- Israel treats Palestinian prisoners horrifically. In
detention, interrogations include torture, intimidation and other abuses.
- "Security prisoners" are punitively isolated
for extended periods. Others for any reason or none at all face similar
short or longer-term treatment.
- Administrative detainees are held indefinitely without
charges or trial. Children are treated like adults.
- Horrific conditions include severe overcrowding; poor
ventilation and sanitation; no change of clothes or adequate clothing;
wooden planks with thin mattresses for beds; filthy blankets; inadequate
food in terms of quality, quantity or conformance with dietary requirements;
poor medical care; and hindered access to family members and counsel, among
- Last June, Netanyahu announced plans to toughen conditions
further. Already they violate international law. Now they've gotten worse.
- On September 27, Palestinian prisoners went on hunger
strike against excessive punitive measures. On October 3, Haaretz headlined,
"Palestinian prisoners go on hunger strike, protest worsening Israel
prison conditions," saying:
- Hundreds joined other strikers for better conditions.
Around 500 "refus(ed) to eat, rapidly swelling the ranks of the protest
which began last week."
- Thousands of free Palestinians rallied in support. Many
spent agonizing months or years in Israeli prison hell themselves.
- The Addameer Prisoners' Support and Human Rights Association
said prisoners began striking "on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday
of every week beginning" September 27.
- They also said their disobedience campaign includes "refus(ing)
to wear prison uniforms, participat(ing) in the daily roll call, or cooperat(ing)
with any other IPS (Israeli Prison Service) demands."
- Some prisoners went on open-ended strike against abusive
isolation. Some endure it for years. Ahmed Sa'adat, Secretary-General of
the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), has been isolated
for three years. Sentenced to 30 years in prison in December 2008, his
ordeal shows no sign of ending.
- Palestinians in Ramon Prison began an open-ended strike
to end abusive isolation, collective punishment, harsh restrictions on
family visits, imposition of fines, frequent raids, humiliating searches,
and shackling prisoners' hands and legs during transfer to and from lawyer
- Prisoners also want education privileges restored, better
healthcare, and punitive harsh treatment ended.
- A September 30 Adalah/Al Mezan Center for Human Rights/Physicians
for Human Rights-Israel joint press release said prisoners are determined
to strike "until loss of life" or their demands are met.
- In recent years, bad conditions got worse, especially
under Netanyahu. "Collective abuse of Palestinian prisoners has intensified,
and has been anchored in new legislation and draconian regulations."
- Cruel and unusual treatment includes:
- political leaders, human rights activists and others
subjected to prolonged isolation;
- denial of legal counsel during interrogations that include
torture and other ill-treatment;
- restricted judicial review of arrest and interrogation
- illegally imprisoning Palestinians in Israel;
- preventing Gazan families (as well as some in the West
Bank) from visiting incarcerated family members;
- unreasonable fines;
- daily humiliating cell and strip-searches;
- submitting visiting family members to the same procedure;
- unreasonable hand and leg-shackling, including during
medical care in hospitals;
- denying the right to buy food in prison canteens;
- denying education, proper healthcare and food;
- blocking television channels as well as denying books,
newspapers and other reading material; and
- other forms of abuse and harassment.
- Ma'an News said 20 or more Palestinians in Ashkelon Prison
began striking. All others there will join them in days, as well as Ofer
prisoners for three days a week "before joining the total hunger strike,
according to the Palestinian Prisoners Club."
- Hamas prisoners in Ramon, Eshe, Nafha and Ashkelon are
also participating in what's spreading throughout Israel's prison system.
- "Director of the Abu Jihad center for prisoners
affairs at al-Quds university Fahd Abu al-Hajj said Sunday that the 3,000
or so prisoners would not end the hunger strike until their demands are
met, primarily an end to the policy of solitary confinement in Israeli
- Al-Hajj added that abusive practices escalated under
Netanyahu "to exert more pressure on the Palestinian leadership to
achieve political gains."
- PA Minister of Prisoners Issa Qaraqe announced plans
to hold sit-ins and marches for prisoner rights. Grand Mufti of Jerusalem
and Palestine Sheikh Muhammad Hussein urged Palestinian officials and communities
to lend support.
- Striking for Prison Rights in America
- US prisons are notoriously oppressive. America's media
ignore it. Last spring, California's Pelican Bay State Prison inmates went
on hunger strike against cruel, inhuman, and abusive treatment, especially
affecting isolated SHU-status prisoners. Others did it earlier in 2002.
- On average they're there two years. Some, however, stay
isolated up to 18 years or longer, even decades. No one enduring it comes
out whole. The physical and emotion toll is horrendous.
- On July 1, up to 100 inmates joined other strikers. Thousands
in other California prisoners later joined them. After striking last summer
for nearly a month, negotiations with the California Department of Corrections
& Rehabilitation (CDCR) were held.
- CDCR failed to follow through on promises, so prisoners
resumed striking on September 26, saying they'll continue until vital changes
- Pelican Bay strikers have five core demands:
- (1) End group punishment when one member of a race or
group breaks a rule. Pelican Bay abusively uses this to isolate prisoners
- (2) End debriefing inmates and falsely accusing them
of being active or inactive prison gang members without evidence. Debriefing
involves ratting on others, whether or not what they say is true.
- (3) Comply with 2006 US Commission on Safety and Abuse
in Prisons solitary confinement recommendations to "make segregation
a last resort" and "end conditions of isolation."
- As of May 18, 2011, California held 3,259 prisoners isolated
and hundreds more in Administrative Segregation, waiting for an available
SHU cell. Some inmates stay isolated for decades.
- (4) Provide adequate food in terms of amount and quality,
as well as improved health and sanitary conditions.
- (5) Expand and provide constructive programs and privileges
for indefinite SHU prisoners, including self-help treatment, education,
religious and others. Currently these opportunities are denied.
- Pelican Bay is a California supermax prison. The US Department
of Justice (DOJ) National Institute of Corrections calls the term "supermax"
the most common one to describe "special housing unit(s), maxi-maxi,
maximum control facilit(ies), secured housing unit(s), intensive management
unit(s), and administrative maximum penitentiar(ies.)."
- It describes them as:
- "a highly restrictive, high-custody housing unit
within a secure facility....that isolates inmates from the general prison
population and from each other due to grievous crimes, repetitive assaultive
or violent institutional behavior, the threat of escape or actual escape
from high-custody facility(s), or inciting or threatening to incite disturbances
in a correctional institution."
- Other definitions describe "control-unit" prisons,
or units within prisons providing the most secure levels of custody for
the "worst of the worst" criminals and those threatening national
- They're maximum security facilities or prison wings in
which inmates are held in long-term solitary confinement under constant
surveillance by closed-circuit TV.
- Former inmates call them prison hell. Making oppressive
conditions tougher got Pelican Bay prisoners to stage hunger strikes for
relief so far not gotten.
- Visit Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity for updates on
their status, including a brief history of Pelican Bay.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
- Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and
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