Punishing Palestinians Ruthlessly
By Stephen Lendman
Occupation harshness continues unabated. Gaza remains besieged. Multiple West Bank communities are targeted daily.
East Jerusalemites suffer horrifically. Rogue states operate this way. Israel is one of the world's worst.
It's punishing Palestinians ruthlessly. Rule of law principles don't matter. Democracy is pure fantasy. None whatever exists.
Ordinary Palestinians suffer most. Lawlessly imprisoned ones most of all. On April 24, thousands began hunger-striking for justice.
Scores continue doing so. They refused food for over a month. They're punished for resisting courageously.
They're isolated from other prisoners. They're viciously ill-treated.
Their personal belongings were confiscated. They face brutalizing daily strip searches.
They're bound and handcuffed 10 or more hours daily. They're denied essential salt for survival.
Dozens were transferred to Ayalon/Ramleh Prison. They're crammed in overcrowded isolation cells. They're like cages. They remain there 24 hours a day.
In early May, they were severely beaten. Several required hospitalization. Others were transferred to unknown locations.
Mothers, wives and sisters reacted. They petitioned UN and ICRC officials. "We are calling for immediate action to end the harrowing policy of (lawless) detention forever," they said.
"We also express our deep concerns and fears with respect to additional violations perpetrated against the prisoners such as solitary confinement, arbitrary transfers, raids, and strip-searches, all of which are committed by the administration of the Israeli Prison Service."
"We urge you…to take urgent action to save the lives of our children and to pressure the (Israeli) occupation to end its policy of administrative detention against Palestinians, which is direct violation of international human rights."
Mahmoud Shalatwa remains imprisoned for 25 months. He's uncharged without trial. His brother, Muhannad, said his wife and family are denied visitation rights.
"There hasn't been any news about him," he said. "We haven't heard anything." B'Tselem issued a statement, saying:
"Unlike a criminal proceeding, administrative detention is not intended to punish a person for an offense already committed, but to thwart a future danger."
"The entire procedure is secret. Administrative detainees are not told the reason for their detention or the specific allegations against them."
"Since the detainees do not know the evidence against them, they are unable to refute it."
Itiraf Rimawi spent 47 months imprisoned without charge or trial. He and other administrative detainees endured "psychological shock," he said.
They're treated horrifically. They're lied to. They're told they're "endangering the Israeli state or something like this, but (they're not given) any details about why (they're) arrested," he explained.
Family members aren't told where they're held. They're isolated from outside contacts. They're brutally treated.
"They'd often wake us in the middle of the night to count us, or tell us to stand in a different room while they searched (their) cell(s)," said Rimawi.
"When we returned, everybody's stuff would be strewn across the room, all mixed together."
Palestinian hunger strikers redefine courage. Mass willingness to die for justice is unprecedented.
In spring 2012, over 2,000 refused food for weeks. In mid-May, Egypt brokered a deal to end their ordeal.
Israel agreed to charge prisoners or release them at the end of their terms.
No extensions would be imposed. Solitary confinement would end within 72 hours.
Family visit bans would end. The punitive Shalit Law would be revoked. Improved prison conditions were promised.
Straightaway, Israel breached all terms agreed on. It didn't surprise. Its agreements aren't worth the paper they're written on.
Things now are worse than ever. Fundamental rights are denied. Horrific treatment is standard practice.
Hundreds at times are isolated. Essential medical care is denied. Food isn't fit to eat.
Sanitary conditions are deplorable. Families are denied visitation rights. Brutal beatings are commonplace. So is daily harassment. Ill-treatment is standard practice.
Thousands remain lawlessly imprisoned. They're held for political reasons. They committed no crimes.
Dozens of children, a number of women, and Palestinian lawmakers are victimized.
Israel calls challenging occupation harshness illegal. So is belonging to the wrong political party.
Virtually anything can be called terrorism. Life in Occupied Palestine reflects cruel and unusual punishment. Praying to the wrong God is considered blasphemy.
Israel violates virtually all human and civil rights. It does so with impunity. Palestinians are treated like subhumans. They're targeted for being non-Jews.
On May 12, B'Tselem headlined "Israel continues to bar Gazan children from visiting fathers imprisoned in Israel."
It did so as punishment. It followed thousands of Palestinian prisoners hunger striking for justice.
B'Tselem got testimonies from affected children and siblings. Ones interviewed haven't seen their fathers since 2007.
"The basic right of the inmates and of their relatives to family life, including prison visits, is enshrined in both international and Israeli law, which recognizes that people are social creatures who need family and community frameworks," said B'Tselem.
"It is the state's duty to protect the right of every inmate to such visits, regardless of the offense for which he or she was convicted."
Israel breaches international law systematically. It does so with impunity.
Leen a-Saftawi is like many other Palestinian children. She's aged 13. She doesn't know her father.
She never saw him. He's been imprisoned for 14 years. She lives with her mother, brothers and sister in Gaza City.
"I don’t know anything about my father," she said. "I don't remember getting a hug from him like other kids, who feel their parents' love."
"I'm very sad. I have no words to describe how I feel. I feel something is missing in my life, especially on holidays or special occasions."
"It really hurts when I see my cousins hugging their parents and sharing their problems with them and telling them how their day was."
"I try to hide my feelings but sometimes I can't, and then I start crying. I've always dreamed of visiting my father and talking with him, sharing what I’m going through, and telling him about my life."
"I really hope that someday we'll be allowed to visit him at least once a month. I know my father only from photos."
"The last time I got a photo was two weeks ago, when my mom visited him. I was so happy."
"I decorated it and posted it on Facebook and wrote: How is Dad? Does he have any gray hair? Every time I use the computer, I see my father's photo."
Leen is one of five children. "(N)one of us can visit out father," she said. Lawlessly imprisoning Palestinian men punishes family members with them. Cruel and inhumane treatment reflects official Israeli policy.
In late April, Hamas and Fatah agreed to end political divisions. It remains to be seen. Earlier efforts failed. This time may fare no better.
Netanyahu reacted as expected. He demanded Abbas "choose between peace with Israel or peace with Hamas."
He lied saying "(t)here cannot be peace with both because Hamas strives to destroy the state of Israel and says so openly."
He falsely claimed what never was said. He lied. He's a serial liar. He mocks legitimate leadership.
He blames Palestinian victims for his crimes. He retaliated in response to Palestine's announced unity agreement.
He did so multiple ways. Sham peace talks were halted. Threats followed. Tax revenues owed Palestine were withheld. Other punitive measures were promised.
On May 16, Haaretz headlined "Israeli punitive action targets Palestinian banks."
They're prohibited from making shekel deposits in Israel. At the same time, state-owned Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) cut electricity supplied East Jerusalem and West Bank communities.
It's two hours less daily. Allegedly it's because of 1.5 billion unpaid shekels. IEC sued Palestine's Jerusalem District Electric Company (JEDCO).
It did so to recover 531 million shekels. JEDCO said it's paid. According to Haaretz:
The restrictions on Palestinian banking contacts, which have taken place routinely for decades, follow an Israeli inner cabinet resolution from April 24, the day the PA announced its reconciliation pact with Hamas."
"Among other things, Israel is withholding as much as 400 million shekels ($116 million) in tax revenues it collects every month on behalf of the PA."
"Israel never before barred Palestinian banks from depositing funds in Israel."
The 1994 Israeli/PLO Paris Protocol lets the Palestine Monetary Authority (PMA) convert excess cash into foreign currencies.
It's done through the Bank of Israel. Palestinian commercial banks maintain active accounts with Israeli ones.
They regularly transfer funds. They do so to conduct business at home and abroad.
On May 14, Palestinian bankers said Israel wants Palestine's economy strangled. If sanctions continue, PMA officials may abandon shekel transactions altogether.
Ties with the Bank of Israel and other Israeli banks may be cut.
"If the Palestinians lodge a complaint with the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank, it could also place Israel in a difficult situation," said Haaretz.
It remains to be seen what follows. What further punitive measures Israel intends to impose. Its actions reveal its dark side.
Millions of Palestinians suffer horrifically. Israeli ruthlessness punishes them.
Liberation remains a distant dream. Maybe some day. Not now.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.
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