Deceased Palestinian prisoner Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh had been stricken with cancer for ‘years’ and was treated with improper medication, official doctors from the Palestinian Authority and Jordan have found.
Israeli doctors did not stop Abu Hamdiyeh’s cancer from spreading, although he had been complaining of bodily pains since 2003, Palestinian Prisoner Affairs Minister Issa Qaraqe said Thursday as he announced the results of an autopsy.
The 64 year old former Fatah member succumbed to oesophageal cancer on Tuesday. More than 6,000 Palestinians, reported to include all factions, poured into the streets of Hebron for his funeral.
Prison authorities disclosed his diagnosis in February, and said they tried to secure his release shortly after.
A statement from the Israeli Prison Service after his death said: “The prisoner was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in February and was under the medical supervision of experts at the hospital. About a week ago, after being diagnosed as terminal, the IPS appealed to the release committee to secure his early release, a process which had been started but not yet concluded.”
Lawyers and relatives report that prison doctors ran biopsy tests on him in 2012 but refused to inform him of his disease.
“Instead of providing him with the correct treatment, the doctors gave him flu shots that caused severe pain in his chest, which he could hardly sleep after,” said Abu Hamdiyeh’s lawyer al-Alami.
His sister Itidal told an online magazine that she visited him in January, one month before his official diagnosis, and found that his voice was completely gone.
Angered by Abu Hamdiyeh’s death, the entire Palestinian prisoner population refused their morning meal Wednesday, according to a statement by the IPS, and the Palestinian Authority announced a three-day general strike across the West Bank.
Abu Hamdiyeh is the second Palestinian to die in Israeli custody this year. Arafat Jaradat, 30, died after an interrogation session in February. Palestinian officials said he had been tortured, an allegation Israel denied.
Two Palestinian youths shot dead
Israeli troops shot dead two Palestinian youths in Tulkarem, officials said Thursday, heightening tension ahead of Abu Hamdiyeh’s funeral.
Palestinian security officials said Amer Nassar, 17, was killed by shots to the head. According to AFP, the body of his 18-year-old cousin, Naji Balbisi, was discovered at the site at dawn on Thursday with wounds to the chest.
However, Palestine’s Ma’an News Agency reports that Israeli forces detained Balbisi’s for several hours, and then at 4 a.m., handed the body to a Red Crescent ambulance.
Both teenagers were to be buried after midday prayers.
The Israeli army said troops opened fire at rioters who hurled petrol bombs at a military post at Tulkarem late on Wednesday, as violent protests erupted in the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority called for a general strike Tuesday after the death of Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh in an Israeli jail.
Following mass protests in the West Bank over the death of Abu Hamdiyeh, Israeli planes had gone into action on Tuesday, targeting what the military described as “two extensive terror sites in the northern Gaza Strip.”
Hours after it launched its first air strikes in the Palestinian enclave in four months, the Israeli military said two rockets fired from the Gaza Strip struck the southern town of Sderot on Wednesday morning, causing no casualties.
Fighters in the Gaza Strip early Thursday fired a mortar shell across the border, the army confirmed, adding that there were no casualties or damage.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had issued a stern warning, saying: “If calm is disrupted, we will respond forcefully.”
- Gaza fighters launch retaliatory strikes over prisoner’s death (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Human rights groups in Israel released a statement on Wednesday condemning the “outrageous mistreatment” of hunger striking Palestinian prisoners by the Israeli Prison Service (IPS), including physical beatings.
“We are outraged by the mistreatment and violent attacks on Palestinian prisoners in general, and especially in the cases of these fragile hunger strikers,” said a joint press release from Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Al-Haq and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-IL).
“We urge the international community to intervene with Israel on behalf of these detainees before their conditions deteriorate even further.”
Doctors and lawyers from the groups who visited the prisoners in Ramleh prison medical center expressed particular concern for the lives two administrative detainees, Samer al-Barq and Hassan Safadi, who have been subject to consistent mistreatment by the IPS.
“There is reason to believe that in the future the health of the two strikers will deteriorate, and therefore their condition requires special attention and close monitoring,” said a doctor from PHR-IL following his visit to the prisoners.
The two detainees are now refusing vitamins and minerals in protest at “humiliating and violent treatment by IPS staff.” He called for the patients to be examined once a week by an impartial doctor without the need for a court order.
PHR-IL doctors also reported that the tiny 1.5 by 1.8 meter cell shared by the two prisoners has no space for the wheelchairs they require for every day activities such as going to the toilet and the shower.
According to the groups, Barq, who is currently on his 78th day of a renewed hunger strike, having already completed a 30-day hunger strike, was violently beaten during his transfer from Ramleh to Ofer military court on July 31.
IPS special forces are renowned for their particularly brutal treatment of prisoners during transfers.
Safadi, who is now on his 48th day of renewed hunger strike, following his previous 71-day hunger strike, recounted similar stories of abuse by IPS staff who regularly carry out violent searches of their cell.
In one such raid they insulted and beat him all over his body leaving him with an injured leg.
In June, Israel broke a deal reached with the Palestinian prisoners’ committee that ended a mass hunger strike by renewing the detention of Hassan Safadi for another six months.
Safadi has been held since 29 June 2011 and the renewal of his detention was a violation of the agreement between the prisoners’ hunger strike committee and Israeli officials.
The mass hunger strike of over 2,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails earlier this year was a protest against Israel’s draconian administrative detention policy, as well as harsh conditions imposed on them during imprisonment.
The strike aimed to put pressure on Israel to drop administrative detention, but the Jewish state has resisted calls to change the policy.
The law dates back to the British mandate era of historic Palestine and allows Israel to detain Palestinians without charge for renewable six month periods.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have previously condemned the policy as a violation of international humanitarian law.
Two other Palestinian political prisoners are also currently on hunger strike: Ayman Sharawna and Samer Al-Issawi, on 38 and 7 days respectively. Both were released in last October’s prisoner exchange deal and subsequently rearrested.
Israel has been accused by activists of implementing apartheid policies towards indigenous Palestinians.
- #PalHunger | Doctor and lawyer visits to hunger strikers reveal mistreatment by Israeli Prison Service (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
- #PalHunger | Hunger strikers Samer al-Barq and Hassan Safadi severely assaulted by Israeli prison authorities (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
- Outrage as Israel breaks prisoner agreement (altahrir.wordpress.com)
UK Foreign Office agrees that imprisoning Palestinian children inside Israel violates international law – but what are they going to do?
In a letter dated 29 June 2012, the UK Foreign Office responded to concerns raised by a group of UK lawyers about the forcible transfer of Palestinian children to prisons located inside Israel. The transfer of Palestinian prisoners (adults and children) to detention facilities inside Israel violates article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention for which personal criminal liability applies.
In the letter, the UK Foreign Office responded that:
“The British Government shares your concerns about the treatment of Palestinian children detained in Israeli prisons and we have a continual dialogue with the Israeli authorities on this question. […] The Government agrees that Israel has legal obligations as an Occupying Power with respect to the Occupied Palestinian Territories under applicable international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention. […] We agree with you that Israel’s policy of detaining Palestinians within Israel is contrary to Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and that domestic law cannot be used as a justification for violations of international law.”
According to Israeli Prison Service figures released in June 2012, 85 percent of Palestinian prisoners, including children, were detained inside Israel. Given that this violation has continued for decades, questions need to be asked as to what additional steps the UK Government is considering to ensure that it complies with its own legal obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention, as dialogue does not appear to be working when it comes to the forcible transfer of prisoners.
- Israeli interrogators sexually harass Palestinian children in detention (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- UK Report finds Israel breaches International Law in treatment of Palestinian children (alethonews.wordpress.com)
BETHLEHEM – Detainees on Monday signed a deal with the Israeli prison authority to end their mass hunger strike, officials told Ma’an.
Prisoner representatives from each of the factions agreed to the deal in Ashkelon jail, prisoners society chief Qaddura Fares said in a statement.
Israel’s internal security service Shin Bet confirmed the deal, the Israeli news site Ynet reported.
Senior Hamas official Saleh Arouri, who was a member of the negotiations team, said Israel agreed to provide a list of accusations to administrative detainees, or release them at the end of their term.
In comments to the Hamas-affiliated new site Palestine Information Center, he said that under the Egypt-brokered deal Israel agreed to release all detainees from solitary confinement over the next 72 hours.
Israel will also lift a ban on family visits for detainees from the Gaza Strip, and revoke the “Shalit law,” according to the official.
The “Shalit law” restricted prisoners’ access to families and to educational materials as punishment for the five-year captivity of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Shalit was freed in October in a prisoner swap agreement.
All or nothing
Ofir Gendelman, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told Ma’an that all prisoners must end the hunger strike within 72 hours, and not later refuse food, for the deal to hold.
Around 2,000 prisoners joined a mass hunger strike launched on April 17 to demand fair prison conditions, according to prisoners groups’ estimates.
Another group of prisoners held in administrative detention launched an earlier strike in protest at their detention without charge, including Bilal Diab, 27, and Thaer Halahla, 33, who have gone for 77 days without food.
Their lawyer Jamil Khatib told Ma’an that Diab and Halahla were informed of the deal earlier Monday. They were told the agreement includes their release at the end of their detention term but both refused to stop their strike unless they were immediately released, Khatib said.
On Monday evening, a relative of Halahla said the long-term hunger-strikers were still deciding on next steps. Prisoners society lawyer Jawad Bulous is heading to the prison hospitals to discuss the deal with hunger-strikers, minister Issa Qaraqe told reporters.
Power of non-violence
PLO official Hanan Ashrawi applauded the deal and said it proved the power of non-violent resistance.
“The Palestinian prisoners in facing the Israeli Prison Authority is a victory not only for them and their families, but also for the millions of Palestinians living in the occupied Palestinian territory and in exile,” Ashrawi said in a statement.
“The hunger strikers’ courage is magnificently inspiring, and their selflessness deeply humbling,” the official added.
She also thanked Egyptian mediators, the international community “and people of conscience worldwide” for supporting the strikers.
1600 Palestinian political prisoners, held by Israel, declared they will be starting an open-ended hunger strike on April 17th in protest of their illegal detention, and demanding basic rights.
Palestinian Minister of Detainees in the West Bank, Issa Qaraqe’, stated that the situation of the detainees in Israeli prisons is very difficult, and dangerous, especially amidst the ongoing Israeli violations and attacks against them.
Qaraqe’ added that the detainees are fighting a battle to defend their dignity and to improve their living conditions.
He further called for massive solidarity campaigns, and called for declaring April 17, Palestinian Prisoners Day, a day for solidarity and massive nonviolent protests in all parts of the occupied territories.
The Maan News Agency reported that a committee formed by the Israeli Prison Authority, headed by Yitzhak Gabai, visited a number of detention facilities, listened to the demands of the detainees, and “promised” to respond to these demands this coming week.
Some of the demands presented by the detainees are;
1. Ending Administrative Detention.
2. Ending Solitary Confinement.
3. Reinstating the right to education.
4. Halting all invasions targeting detainees’ rooms and sections.
5. Allowing family visitation, especially to detainees from the Gaza Strip.
6. Improving medical care to ailing detainees.
7. Halting the humiliation, and body-search of the families of the detainees.
8. Allowing the entry of books and newspapers.
9. Halting all sorts of penalties against the detainees.
Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons are subject to harsh and illegal treatment that violates International Law and the Fourth Geneva Convention to which Israel is a signatory.
Palestinians started marking April 17 as the Palestinian Prisoners Day, on April 17, 1974, the day Israel released Mahmoud Bakr Hijazi, in the first ever prisoner-swap deal.
202 Palestinian detainees have died after being kidnapped by Israeli forces since 1967, following Israel’s occupation to the rest of Palestine (The West Bank, the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights).
Hundreds of detainees died after they were released suffering from serious illnesses and medical conditions resulting from extreme torture and abuse in Israeli prisons.
70 detainees died in prison due to extreme torture, 74 were executed by the soldiers after being arrested, 51 died due to the lack of medical treatment, 7 detainees died due to excessive force by soldiers and after being shot while in prison, former political prisoner, head of the census department at the Ministry of Detainees, Abdul-Nasser Farawna reported.
- Thirty Palestinians killed by Israel in March, 300 imprisoned (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Palestinian Detainees To Hold Hunger Strike (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Minister of Detainees Calls for Boycott of Military Courts (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Detained journalist boycotts Israeli military court (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- B’Tselem reports sharp increase in the numbers of Palestinians being held in administrative detention (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Netanyahu Refuses EU Demands To Release Political Detainees (alethonews.wordpress.com)
B’Tselem reports sharp increase in the numbers of Palestinians being held in administrative detention
An Israeli human rights organization has stated that during 2011, the number of Palestinian administrative detainees held by the Israel authorities increased sharply.
B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, noted that according to figures received from the Israel Prison Service, the number of Palestinian administrative detainees being held in Israel increased from 219 in January 2011, to 307 in December. In a press release published on its website, B’Tselem also noted that, “At the end of 2011, Israel was holding one minor in administrative detention.”
“Twenty-nine per cent of the detainees had been held for six months to one year; another 24 per cent from one to two years. Seventeen Palestinians had been in administrative detention continuously for two to four and a half years, and one man has been held for over five years.”
The organization stated that 2011, “marks the first time since 2008 that there was an increase in the number of administrative detainees after the number had fallen from 813 in January 2008, to 204 in December 2010.”
“Administrative detention is detention without trial, intended to prevent a person from committing an act that is liable to endanger public safety. … [Un]like a criminal proceeding, administrative detention is not intended to punish a person for an offense already committed, but to prevent a future danger. The manner in which Israel uses administrative detention is patently illegal. Administrative detainees are not told the reason for their detention or the specific allegations against them. Although detainees are brought before a judge to approve the detention order, most of the material submitted by the prosecution is classified and not shown to the detainee or his attorney. Since the detainees do not know the evidence against them, they are unable to refute it,” B’Tselem further stated.
The organization’s website also pointed out that the detainees also do not know when they will be released, although each detention order is specified for a year and a half maximum, but detention orders can be renewed indefinitely.
“Over 60% had their detention extended at least once beyond the first detention order. Administrative detention violates the right to liberty and the right to due process, since the detainee is incarcerated for a prolonged period on the basis of secret evidence, without charge or trial.”
The organization noted that over the years, Israel has held thousands of Palestinians in administrative detention for periods ranging from a few months to several years. There were times during the second intifada that Israel held over a thousand Palestinians in administrative detention. “Under international law, it is permissible to administratively detain a person only in exceptional cases, to prevent a grave danger that cannot be prevented through less harmful means. Israel’s use of administrative detention blatantly breaches these rules.” It called on the Israeli army to release all the administrative detainees or prosecute them.
- Minister of Detainees Calls for Boycott of Military Courts (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Raymond McCartney, former Irish hunger striker in message of support to Khader Adnan (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Speaker Of Palestine Parliament Receives Six Months Administrative Detention (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Carter Center calls on Israel to release or charge hunger striker (jta.org)