Tensions rise as Palestinian prisoners face collective punishment | Israeli-Palestinian conflict News

Ramallah, Occupied West Bank – Tensions have reached a boiling point in several Israeli jails holding Palestinian prisoners, with human rights groups saying authorities are holding a number of detainees, many of them injured by Israeli forces, in conditions unknown.

“The situation in the prisons is critical and very dangerous,” Milena Ansari, head of international advocacy for Addameer, a prisoner rights group based in Ramallah, told Al Jazeera, citing the continued closure of Hamas prisoner sections. amid recent collective punishment measures.

Tensions escalated on December 14 in Damon North Prison, where three inmates and representatives of the other inmates refused to leave their cells in a nighttime raid due to the cold outside, according to the human rights group. Ramallah-based Addameer prisoners. Israeli officers then cut off the power in their section, beat them and transferred one of the prisoners, Shurooq Dwayyat, to solitary confinement, Addameer said.

The other two, Marah Bakir and Muna Qaadan, were placed in solitary confinement the next day after protesting by knocking on cell doors. Their rooms were also searched and the three prisoners refused their meals until they were all returned to their cells. During the raids, a number of other women were beaten by Israeli special forces, including one to the point of unconsciousness, according to a statement from the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) monitoring group. Some have also had their headscarves forcibly removed.

When the news reached Nafha prison in southern Israel, a Palestinian detainee affiliated with Hamas, Yousef Mabhouh, from the Gaza Strip, stabbed an Israeli prison guard in the face with an improvised weapon, slightly injuring him. according to the Israeli Prison Service (IPS). Hamas said in a statement that the incident was “a natural response to the escalation” facing the prisoners.

The section where the attack took place was then raided by special forces who removed 80 prisoners from their rooms, “handcuffed them for hours in the freezing cold and beat some of them.” Mabhouh was subjected to severe assault, after which he was transferred to hospital by helicopter, ”Addameer said.

The PPS said several prisoners in Nafha were seriously injured in the raids and none of the seriously injured received medical treatment. Among the injured was Khaled Abu Joudeh, who suffered a wound in his right eye; Ziad Awad, injured in the face after being attacked by police dogs; and Ihab Saad, whose nose was broken, among others.

Meanwhile, all inmates at Damon Prison have been barred from family visits and access to the canteen for the past two weeks, with some also facing fines.

Addameer said prisoners held in solitary confinement are completely cut off from the world. “They are being held in an empty cell containing only a mattress and a blanket. Other than their clothes, they are not allowed to take anything with them in solitary confinement, including reading materials, a television or a radio, ”he added, noting that the rooms do not contain a toilet.

The PPS and Addameer accuse Israel of a deliberate news blackout following the events of this month.

“We do not know the state of health of some of the prisoners or what happened to them,” Addameer’s Ansari said, alleging a “cover-up”. “We were unable to access the prisons where this is happening and document the events. The lawyers were also denied access.

The PPS, meanwhile, urged the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit the prisoners and verify their conditions.

Al Jazeera has contacted IPS for comment but has not received a response at the time of publication.

Milena Ansari from Addameer. Group says Israel imposed a media blackout on the condition and fate of several Palestinian prisoners who were beaten and isolated [Al Jazeera]

Prisoner on hunger strike

Simultaneously, Palestinian hunger striker Hisham Abu Hawwash, who protests his “administrative detention”, was transferred to an Israeli hospital and is on the verge of death, unable to speak or move after 135 days of hunger strike. and her weight dropped from 89 to 37 kilograms (196 to 82 pounds).

The Red Cross noted last week that Abu Hawwash’s health was in critical condition and required “expert clinical monitoring”.

The 40-year-old, from Dura near Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank, was arrested by Israeli soldiers in October 2020 and placed in administrative detention, a procedure used by the IDF to detain Palestinians on “secret information”. without charging them or allowing them to be tried.

Since then, the six-month administrative detention order has been arbitrarily renewed twice, most recently on October 25. Earlier this month, Ofer’s military court dismissed an appeal filed by his lawyer and instead renewed the order for another four months.

Hisham's wife and childrenHisham Abu Hawwash’s wife, Aisha, 30, and two of his children, Saba, 2, and Izzedin, 6. None of them were able to visit their father in hospital or in prison. [Al Jazeera]

Friends and family protested outside Red Cross offices in Hebron on Monday, calling for international intervention.

“Several days ago, the IPS refused to transfer my brother to hospital even though his condition had deteriorated considerably,” his brother, Emad Abu Hawwash, told Al Jazeera.

“It was only when his situation became critical that they agreed to have him transferred to hospital because the IPS did not want to be responsible for his death if he were to die in prison,” said Emad, adding that Hisham’s wife and children had been barred from visiting him. hospitalized him because the Israeli authorities refused to give them entry permits to Israel.

“We are now engaged in a letter-writing campaign to various international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, calling for help. “

Speaking to Al Jazeera from the protest in Hebron, activist Hisham Sharabati said supporters of the hunger striker also launched a digital petition to Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz demanding his freedom.

As the situation in Israeli prisons continues to worsen, the Hamas leadership has threatened a group of prisoners with a hunger strike as a first step in protesting Israel’s treatment of prisoners, and further action will follow. .

The Palestinian public has also taken to the streets to support prisoners with protests taking place in many West Bank towns.

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About Jonathan J. Kramer

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