The organisation said that 54 of them died after being arrested, 27 died because of poor medical treatment and 23 were tortured to death. The last was Arafat Jaradat, who died in February 2013 under torture after a week of his arrest.
Addameer also said that it documented eight extra judicial killings against Palestinians while Israeli occupation forces were combing Palestinian villages and refugee camps in 2013. It also said that five were killed in the on-going campaign, which started on 12 June to find three missing settlers.
In addition, it said that the prisoners are exposed to different kinds of physical and psychological torture, including sexual violence, solitary confinement, ban of sleeping and food for long periods and preventing them meeting with lawyers for 60 days.
Israeli occupation authorities, Addameer said, are violating the fourth Geneva Convention as they are practicing “collective vengeful” punishment against Palestinian civilians under the pretext of searching for the three missing settlers.
Regarding violations of the right for prisoners to go on hunger strike, the organisation said that the Israeli ratification of the force-feeding bill violates international law and international humanitarian law. It also said that Israeli administrative detention is a violation of article 78 of the Geneva Convention.
The organisation said that Israel had ignored the demands to release 130 administrative prisoners, who went on hunger strike for 63 consecutive days. “It has even increased the numbers to 340 as it is carrying out a search mission for the settlers,” the organisation said.
“This is a violation of the Geneva Conventions and mounts to a war crime and war against humanity as it is used widely and systematically,” it said. “It is a kind of torture.”
Standing in front of a map of what both no doubt hope will one day be Greater Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu and Tony Blair have today given a practical demonstration of chutzpah. Translated roughly as “audacity” (but could also mean “insolence”), the two men with blood on their hands tried to convince the world that the lives of three illegal Jewish settlers – “children,” said the Israeli PM – are worth more than the lives of over 1,300 Palestinian children killed by the Israelis since September 2000 at an average rate of 3 murders per day. This is entirely consistent with the view expressed by at least one extremist Rabbi, Yaacov Perrin, at the funeral of Baruch Goldstein, the terrorist settler who murdered 29 Palestinians while they prayed in Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque in 1984: “Even one million Arabs,” claimed Perrin, “are not worth a Jewish fingernail.”
To the best of my knowledge, Blair has never, even as arguably the most ineffective “peace envoy” the world has ever seen, expressed regrets at the loss of Palestinian lives with as much gravitas as he employed to condemn the kidnapping of the settlers. If, indeed, that is what has happened to them; with no credible claims of responsibility, there is already talk on social media that the three will surface unharmed after spending a few days in a military facility somewhere in Israel having served their purpose of giving Netanyahu an excuse to try to break Palestinian will and the unity government in one brutal step. Israel has carried out false flag operations before, so why might this be any different?
According to statistics supplied by Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, Israel is holding 196 Palestinian children in its jails. Although it regards Israeli citizens as adults from the age of 18, as far as sentencing is concerned, Palestinians aged 12 and over are “adults” in Israeli eyes. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) reports, “Every year between 500-700 Palestinian children, some as young as 12, are detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system.”
There are almost two hundred men held by Israel under so-called “administrative detention”. They have never been charged with or found guilty of any crime and their detention can be extended indefinitely. To all intents and purposes, they have been “kidnapped” by Israel’s occupation authorities.
All of this doesn’t matter, of course. With a compliant media at its disposal, Israel has once again been able to control the narrative so that Palestinian fatalities over the past few days are ignored and the missing settlers grab the headlines. This pattern is repeated in the lack of coverage of the almost daily Israeli military incursions into Gaza and attacks on farmers and fishermen, which go unreported. It is as if they have become so commonplace that they are not newsworthy. The PSC has monitored the BBC for its coverage of the conflict in Palestine: “[The Corporation] has a unique responsibility, enshrined in the BBC Charter, to provide news that is balanced, fair and accurate. In the case of its coverage of Palestine and Israel, this is not the case. Audiences are constantly presented with the Israeli perspective on events, while being kept in the dark about Israel’s atrocities committed against the Palestinians.” It is within that sort of context that we must view displays of solidarity by the likes of Netanyahu and Blair on any issue, not just missing settlers.
So when the Israeli prime minister declares that the Palestinian Authority should dissolve the newly-created unity government because “they cannot build a government that is backed by the kidnappers of children and the murderers of innocents” he should take a long, hard look at his own record, for that is exactly what his government, and those before it, are guilty of. Never mind the chutzpah, Netanyahu is being a “tsvuak” (hypocrite) of the highest order. Come to think of it, though, I think I prefer plain old schmuck; that suits him down to the ground.
British private security company G4S helps the Israeli government to run prisons at which Palestinian political prisoners are detained.
Right now, there are more than 5,000 Palestinians in Israeli jails, including 183 children. Human rights organisations have documented widespread torture, including of children, and Palestinians are often held without trial indefinitely.
Inside the prisons, Palestinian political prisoners suffer from severe overcrowding, insufficient quality and quantity of food, medical neglect, isolation, and regular attacks from Israeli Special Forces. G4S is at the heart of this system, installing and running security systems at Israeli jails.
In June 2013, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest private foundation in the world, purchased shares in G4S worth $172m, making it one of the company’s biggest shareholders.
The Gates Foundation says that it is “guided by the belief that every life has equal value” and that it uses its investments to fund projects that “help all people lead healthy, productive lives”.
But through its holdings in G4S, the Gates Foundation is legitimising and profiting from Israel’s use of torture, mass incarceration and arbitrary arrest to discourage Palestinians from opposing Israel’s apartheid policies.
Last February, the Israeli military arrested Palestinian student Arafat Jaradat. Arafat was tortured in the Al Jalameh interrogation centre, where G4S installed and maintains the security systems. Just seven days after his arrest, he was found dead in a cell in another prison that G4S helps to run with three broken ribs, severe bruising all over his body and blood in his nose and mouth. He left behind a pregnant wife and two children.
By working so directly in support of Israel’s prison system, G4S is complicit in Israel’s violations of the Geneva Convention, Article 76 of which prohibits the transfer of prisoners from occupied territory into the territory of the occupier.
G4S also provides security for Ofer Military Court in the West Bank, the sole purpose of which is to imprison Palestinians, including hundreds of children and human rights defenders each year. Israel’s military courts have a conviction rate of over 99 per cent and serve an important element in maintaining Israel’s occupation.
All across the world, universities, banks, charities and trade unions have cut links with G4S because of their role in Israel’s abhorrent prison system.
With a personal wealth of $76 billion dollars, Bill Gates was just named the richest man in the world. Surely his foundation can afford not to invest in grave human rights abuses?
Sign the petition to tell Bill Gates to divest now.
More info: http://www.addameer.org/etemplate.php?id=670
JERUSALEM (AFP) — President Mahmoud Abbas said Tuesday that he would extend faltering peace talks with Israel only if it agreed to conditions, including a settlement freeze, which it promptly rejected.
Abbas listed his demands during a meeting with Israeli journalists at his headquarters in Ramallah just a week before a nine-month target for a peace deal.
His comments came as US envoy Martin Indyk went into a new meeting with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in a bid to save the US-sponsored talks from collapse.
Abbas said he would agree to an extension of negotiations beyond the April 29 deadline if Israel frees a group of prisoners as previously earmarked for release and discusses the borders of a future Palestinian state.
“There must be a total freeze of settlements,” by Israel in the occupied West Bank including annexed East Jerusalem, Abbas said.
“The borders between Israel and the state of Palestine must also be defined within a month, two or three,” if the talks are to be extended, he said.
The PLO and the international community have long viewed Israeli settlement construction as a major obstacle to peace talks.
The peace process was engulfed by crisis last month after Israel refused to free a fourth and final group of 26 veteran Palestinian prisoners which would have completed an agreement that brought the sides back to negotiations last July.
“He who makes such conditions does not want peace,” a senior Israeli official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The official said that settlement building in Jerusalem would not be frozen and that Israel had never agreed to discuss the border issue separately from other core issues.
These include Palestinians refugees, the fate of Jerusalem, security and mutual recognition.
“It is impossible to define borders before an agreement on the other issues,” the Israeli official said.
He also reiterated that Israel planned on expelling to the Gaza Strip, or abroad, some of the last batch of prisoners that Abbas wants freed.
“This has been clearly explained to the Palestinians. Never has Israel committed not to carry out expulsions,” he said.
Israel has announced plans for thousands of illegal settler homes in the occupied West Bank and killed over 60 Palestinians since peace talks began in July.
Israeli officials have also refused to discuss withdrawing Israeli soldiers and settlers from the occupied Jordan Valley, which forms around a third of the West Bank.
Ma’an staff contributed to this report
Israel to extract a heavy price if Palestinians join UN bodies, says minister
US-brokered negotiations with Israel, which started on 29 July 2013 and were to last nine months, are nearing their ignominious end. And Israel, the serial defaulter that it is, has reneged on the agreed release of 104 pre-Oslo prisoners in exchange for Palestine’s postponing joining international organizations to help achieve their long-overdue freedom.
Three phases of the agreed release had taken place, and the final batch of 30 prisoners were due to be handed over on 29 March. When the Israeli government refused to release them the Palestinian embassy in London, on 2 April, announced that President Mahmoud Abbas had signed letters of accession to 15 international conventions and treaties.
We were promised the release of these prisoners, who are dear to our hearts and because of whom we withheld from going to the United Nations organizations. We were told that the Israeli government would convene to announce this final release today, but unfortunately they have failed to do so….
We concluded that if the final phase of the agreed release did not go ahead, then we would begin signing letters of accession to the 63 international organizations, treaties and conventions, which the leadership unanimously approved.
President Abbas explained that the 15 letters are for conventions and treaties that can be joined immediately and do not need further approval.
This is our right. We agreed to suspend this right for a period of 9 months…. for the sake of negotiations. The Israeli side is continuing to procrastinate, therefore we do not have any other choice but to go ahead with plans to join international organizations and conventions.
Abbas’s letter-writing included the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and conventions against torture, corruption and the prevention of genocide.
Palestinian officials also delivered a letter asking to become a party to the Geneva Conventions, and another letter to join The Hague Convention (IV) respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land.
Negotiations a smoke screen
Like all UN Member and Observer states, Palestine is entitled to join the 63 treaties, conventions and agencies and will do so in the best interests of its people and whenever it thinks fit. It doesn’t need US or Israeli permission.
Question: Doesn’t this undermine US and international efforts?
No, the Israelis’ unrelenting settlement construction during this entire process has done that. Israel has tried to use negotiations as a smoke screen behind which it continues to violate human rights, expand its settlement programme and make the two-state solution increasingly impossible.
Question: What does it mean for the peace process? Are the negotiations over?
No. The Palestinians are committed to negotiations until the 29 April, as agreed.
None of the letters so far was addressed to the International Criminal Court, which the Palestinians have been strongly urged to join – a move that would certainly set the cat among Israel’s pigeons. So what could possibly be objectionable about the limited action Abbas has taken?
Nothing. Except that the Israelis are now pushing for an extension of the talks beyond the 29 April deadline before they’ll release the Palestinian prisoners. But the Palestinians see this as yet another ploy to buy more time to establish yet more irreversible ‘facts on the ground’. They made it clear many weeks ago that enough was enough.
It seems likely that when the nine months are up the Palestinians will resume efforts through the UN and the International Criminal Court to bring Israel to book over its illegal settlements and colonisation programme. There are more than 350.000 Jewish squatters living in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and 200.000 more in settlement in and around occupied East Jerusalem. All settlements are illegal under International Law and the Fourth Geneva Convention, to which Israel is a signatory. And transferring part of Israel’s population into occupied territory is regarded as a war crime.
“Heavy price” threatened if Palestinians take case to UN
Response from Israel has been swift. Tourism Minister Uzi Landau warns that Abbas’s unilateral request to join 15 international institutions is in breach of peace talk conditions and “will cost the PA [Palestinian Authority] dearly…. They must know something simple: they will pay a heavy price. One of the possible measures will be Israel applying sovereignty over areas which will clearly be part of the State of Israel in any future solution.” He’s referring to areas of the Palestinian West Bank which now have a large Jewish population.
Landau warns that Israel might also “block financial aid” to the the Palestinians.
Of course, what’s he’s proposing is not only hateful but constitutes further breaches of international and humanitarian law, adding to an already long crime-sheet.
Landau’s father, Chaim, was a commander in the Irgun, a Jewish terror organisation that murdered British soldiers of the mandate government and bombed its headquarters in the King David Hotel killing 91. He hailed from Poland so what ancestral link, one wonders, does Landau have to the Holy Land that justifies playing the bully-boy, pushing Arabs off their ancestral lands and stealing their homes, farms, aquifers and offshore waters?
And here’s another of Landau’s pearls of wisdom: “A Palestinian state is not the solution.”
But a Jewish state is? Peace, brother……
Ramallah, Occupied Palestine – This afternoon approximately 500 Palestinian, international and Israeli demonstrators gathered close to Ofer Prison in Ramallah to protest against the refusal of the Israeli state to release the fourth group of Palestinian prisoners. As part of the current round of talks between Fatah (the Palestinian government of the West Bank) and the Israeli government, a series of prisoner releases was promised by the state of Israel, and the fourth was due to be carried out by the end of March, the Israeli government has now refused to honor the final release.
The demonstration began at approximately 12pm, the protests’ aim was to march towards Ofer prison itself, but due to the large number of Israeli forces present, this was not possible. The demonstrators also twice attempted a prayer at the start of the protest, but were unable to due to the high level of aggression from Israeli forces.
As the demonstration was beginning a 53-year-old Palestinian was shot at several times through the window of his car as he was driving away from Israeli forces. One of these rubber-coated steel bullets struck him in the head. The rubber-coated steel bullet broke several bones around his eye, a piece of the bullet was unable to be immediately removed and so he required surgery.
The level of violence escalated from this point as Palestinian youth threw stones at the Israeli military, while they (the military) fired hundreds of tear gas canisters, rubber-coated steel bullets and live ammunition, injuring many demonstrators. At several points during the demonstration, Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters directly at protesters, both highly dangerous and in contravention to Israeli military procedure, which is shooting them up into an arch to lower the impacted velocity.
A full list of all those injured is currently not available, however at least 10 people were transferred by ambulance to a local hospital in Ramallah to seek medical treatment for their injuries and Red Crescent medics at the demonstration treated many others for varying wounds.
Below is a list of specific injuries that were confirmed both at the demonstration and from ISM activists at the local Ramallah hospital:
- A 21-year-old Palestinian activist was injured after being shot from extremely close range with a sponge-tipped projectile in the back.
- Two ISM activists were also both shot from extremely close range with sponge-tipped projectiles in their backs.
- A 20-year-old Palestinian was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the head.
- A 48-year-old Palestinian journalist was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the left shoulder.
- A Palestinian activist was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the foot.
- A 20-year-old Palestinian was shot with two .22 live ammunition bullets in his foot and in his knee.
- A 30-year-old Palestinian was shot with .22 live ammunition in his right hand.
- Another Palestinian was shot with .22 live ammunition in his left foot; the bullet was unable to be removed.
- 36-years-old Palestinian was shot with two .22 live ammunition bullets, both in his left foot.
- A 31-year-old Palestinian was shot in the left leg with .22 live ammunition.
- A 36-year-old Palestinian was shot with .22 live ammunition in the left foot.
- Mohammed Yasin, a photojournalist from Bi’lin who was wearing a press vest, was shot in his face with a rubber-coated steel bullet and also shot in his stomach with a .22 live ammunition bullet. He remains in hospital in serious condition, as the bullet may have destroyed parts of his liver.
An ISMer who was present at Ofer had this to say: “The Israeli forces present were really violent today. It was impossible to count the amount of tear gas canisters, rubber-coated steel bullets and live ammunition fired; it felt constant for several hours. It became clear many times during the protest that the soldiers were specifically aiming at people, they weren’t trying to ‘end’ the demo, they just wanted to injure as many people as possible. I just don’t understand how people can defend the Israeli state and its military when they use this much violence against unarmed protesters.”
Photo by ISM
- PCHR Weekly Report: 3 Palestinians Killed, 34 Wounded by Israeli Troops (imemc.org)
- Week of protests cross the west bank in solidarity with Gaza (nilin-village.org)
RAMALLAH (AFP) — Israel has told the PLO it will not free the final group of prisoners they had been expecting alongside US-brokered peace talks, a senior Palestinian official said on Friday.
Under the deal which relaunched the talks in July, Israel said it would release 104 Palestinians held since before the 1993 Oslo peace accords in exchange for the Palestinians not pressing their statehood claims at the United Nations.
Israel has so far freed 78 prisoners in three batches but cabinet members had warned they would block the final release, anticipated for the end of March, if the Palestinians refused to extend the talks beyond their April 29 deadline.
“The Israeli government has informed us through the American mediator that it will not abide with its commitment to release the fourth batch of Palestinian prisoners scheduled for tomorrow, Saturday 29,” Jibril Rajub told AFP.
“Israel has refused to commit to the names that were agreed upon of prisoners held by Israel since before the 1993 Oslo agreements,” Rajub said.
Israeli officials had no immediate comment.
But Israeli ministers have said previously that the prisoner releases were always conditional on progress in the talks, which had failed to materialize.
Many also baulked at the inclusion of Palestinian citizens of Israel among the prisoners slated for release.
Rajub called the Israeli move a “slap in the face of the US administration and its efforts,” and said the Palestinians would resume their international diplomatic offensive.
“Not releasing the prisoners will mark the beginning of the efforts in the international community to challenge the legality of the occupation,” he said.
The talks have been teetering on the brink of collapse, with Washington fighting an uphill battle to get the two sides to agree to a framework for continued negotiations until the end of the year.
US Secretary of State John Kerry met Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Amman on Wednesday in a bid to salvage the talks, with US special envoy Martin Indyk meeting the Palestinian leader in Ramallah on Thursday.
Israel’s government has announced the construction of thousands of settler housing units and its army has killed 60 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza since the talks began.
The Israeli government has also insisted that it maintain a military and civilian presence in the occupied Jordan Valley, which forms around a third of the West Bank, and has insisted that the PLO recognize it as a “Jewish state,” despite having already officially recognized Israel decades earlier.
Ma’an staff contributed to this report
Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network | January 26, 2014
On December 2013, the Israel Prison Service (IPS) responded to a freedom of information request by Who Profits, which was submitted three months earlier, regarding twenty-two corporations that provide services to Israeli prisons.
These companies mainly provide security equipment and services to incarceration facilities that hold Palestinian prisoners and detainees inside Israel and in the occupied West Bank. These incarceration facilities hold Palestinian political prisoners in violation of international law, and torture and systematic violations of human rights take place within their walls. According to Addameer’s latest monthly detention report (December 2013), there are 5033 Palestinian political prisoners in the Israeli prisons, 173 of whom are minors and 145 are administrative detainees.
The following table is an English translation of information provided by the Israel Prison Service to Who Profits, regarding twenty-two corporations that provide services to Israeli prisons and detention facilities.
|Company Name||Characteristics of Contract||End of Contract||Comments||Financial Scope|
|G4S||Maintaining supporting management systems, magnetometer gates, scanning machines and ankle monitors||During the fiscal year 2015||According to an IPS tender||Tens of millions of shekels|
|3M||Based on occasional bids|
|MOTOROLA SOLUTIONS ISRAEL||Maintaining wireless systems and lighting bridgesRepairing wireless devices||During the fiscal year 2016||According to an IPS tender||Tens of millions of shekels|
|HEWLETT- PACKARD (HP)||PrintersMaintaining HP systems and central servers||During the fiscal year 2016||Tenders by the Accountant General + tenders by the IPS||Tens of millions of shekels|
|MERKAVIM TRANSPORTATION TECHNOLOGIES||Based on occasional bids|
|MAYER’S CARS AND TRUCKS||Based on occasional bids|
|VOLVO GROUP||Based on occasional bids|
|Biosense||Supplying and maintaining a dog-bark identification system||During the fiscal year 2014||According to an IPS tender||Hundreds of thousands of shekels|
|Myform||Based on occasional bids|
|MIRS COMMUNICATIONS||Purchase of battery servicesProviding wireless services||During the fiscal year 2016||Tenders by the Accountant General + Tenders by the IPS||Hundreds of thousands of shekels|
|AFCON HOLDINGS||Installing, providing year-round service and maintaining fire detection systems||During the fiscal year 2015||According to an IPS tender||Tens of millions of shekels|
|Contact||Based on occasional bids|
|SHAMRAD ELECTRONICS||Relocating communication infrastructureSupplying electronic equipmentRepairing sound system||During the fiscal year 2015||According to an IPS tender||Tens of millions of shekels|
|B.G. ILANIT GATES AND URBAN ELEMENTS||Based on occasional bids|
|Dadash Hadarom Distribution||Purchase of canteen products||31/07/14||According to a tender|
|Shekem||Based on occasional bids|
|Shiran||Based on occasional bids|
|S.I.R.N.||Based on occasional bids|
|Shekel||Based on occasional bids|
|ASHTROM GROUP||Based on occasional bids|
|Lymtech||Based on occasional bids|
Who Profits also provides documentation and research on several of these companies at the links below:
Palestine Center for Prisoners’ Studies revealed that many Palestinian prisoners including women and children have been subjected to torture in Israeli jails and interrogation centers.
Israeli torture techniques include beating, blindfolding, hanging, strip search, Shabh (stress position) where prisoners are made to sit on a small chair with their head hooded and hands tied behind their back, pouring hot or very cold water over the head, according to the report.
The human rights center documented several cases of tortured prisoners who were deprived of sleep and forced into painful positions for long periods in addition to many practices that violate Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The report revealed that Israeli doctors are involved in torture practices against prisoners through submitting false medical files that deny torture crimes before courts.
Amjad Abu Asab, a spokesman for a committee that represents Jerusalemite prisoners, told Ma’an that Israel agreed to free a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and a former Minister of Jerusalem Affairs.
Abu Asab said that lawmaker Muhammad Tutah and former minister Khalid Abu Arafah have been detained for two years on the charge of entering Jerusalem “illegally,” after Israel revoked their Jerusalem IDs.
Both Tutah and Abu Arafah have also been accused of being leaders of the Hamas movement in the Jerusalem area, Abu Asab said.
The Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the 24-month imprisonment was sufficient punishment, and that the two should be released, giving the Israeli military prosecution a week to respond, he said.
The response came Wednesday that the prisoners would be released but would have to leave Jerusalem.
The two were detained by undercover Israeli forces on Jan. 23, 2012, from offices of the International Red Cross Committee in Jerusalem, Abu Asab said.
Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1980 in a move never recognized by the international community.
Today, the Palestinian population numbers 293,000 in a city which counts roughly 800,000 residents, UN figures show.
In 2012, Israel’s Interior Ministry revoked the residency status of 116 Jerusalem Palestinians, bringing the total number over 46 years to more than 14,000 people, according to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.
BETHLEHEM – Conditions attached to the release of Palestinian prisoners prove that Israel is not serious about the peace process, the director of rights group Addameer said Monday as 26 Palestinians prepared to be freed from Israeli jails.
Israeli authorities are expected to release the veteran Palestinian prisoners after midnight in the third stage of a phased agreement to free 104 detainees in line with commitments to US-brokered peace talks, which began in July.
In October, Israel released a group of 26 Palestinians detained before the 1993 Oslo Accords, while a first group was freed on Aug. 13.
Sahar Francis, general director of rights group Addameer, said that while any release of prisoners is welcome, strict Israeli conditions on freed detainees undermine “hope” and “trust” in the peace process.
“Israel has showed it is putting conditions on prisoner releases and the US supports these conditions. Prisoners held before 1993 should have been released 20 years ago, and not today,” she told Ma’an.
Francis says that Israel restricts the freedom of movement of Palestinians freed as part of political agreements, with residents of East Jerusalem banned from visiting the West Bank or Gaza Strip following their release.
West Bank residents are banned from leaving their district for months, and in some cases up to a year, following a return to civilian life, while released prisoners are also prohibited from leaving the country for varying periods of time depending on their sentence, with some permanently banned.
Any involvement in political activities can be also grounds for rearrest and imprisonment by Israeli authorities.
“These practices show that the Israelis are not really seeking justice and a lasting peace with the Palestinians,” Francis said.
“If the Israelis really had good intentions to end the conflict and grant Palestinians basic rights under international law they should release all Palestinian prisoners and stop arresting Palestinians in the occupied territories.”
Israel treats Palestinians like ‘terrorists’
In past prisoner releases, Israel has rearrested dozens of ex-detainees under Military Order 1651, which Francis says violates the most “basic rights” of Palestinian prisoners.
The order, which was implemented in 2009, allows for an Israeli military committee to sentence detainees to serve the remainder of their previous sentence under secret information not made available to lawyers.
Francis says the order was implemented by Israel to prepare “legally” for the release of prisoners which Israel would be reluctant to free and to impose conditions which would allow them to be rearrested in the future.
Israel has also violated international law by stipulating that freed detainees be deported to the Gaza Strip, or abroad, as part of the conditions of their release, Francis said.
Both Samer Issawi and Ayman Sharawna were rearrested by Israel under Military Order 1651 after being freed in the 2011 prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hamas, with Sharawna eventually deported to Gaza for 10 years after agreeing to end hunger strike action.
Hana Shalabi was also rearrested under the military order and subsequently deported to Gaza for three years under the conditions of her release.
These new procedures represent “serious violations” of human rights and prove that the Palestinian community can see little hope in the future of the peace process, Francis says.
Furthermore, Israel continues its policy of daily arrests in the occupied West Bank, which has increased in recent months, and has never committed to stopping the mass arrest of Palestinians while negotiations are taking place, Francis says.
“Israel recognizes Palestinians as terrorists and not as people seeking their independence and self determination, and this makes the whole difference in the treatment of prisoners in the political channel.”
“We are happy that these 26 prisoners who spent years of their life in jail are being freed, of course the sadness is in thinking of the remaining 5,000 prisoners who are suffering behind bars.”
One can only imagine the looks on the faces of Israeli settlers living in Masharef Mountain, near the Hebrew University that overlooks Issawiya, as they watched the celebrations welcoming back Palestinian prisoner Samer al-Issawi.
Issawi returned victorious to his village despite Israel’s desperate attempts to ban celebrations. The occupation forces delayed his release for about 10 hours last Monday, December 23, and erected military checkpoints near the village, but young men and Palestinian mothers insisted on welcoming their hero.
Following his nine-month hunger strike amid the “battle of the empty stomachs,” Issawi was released along with 1,026 other Palestinians in an exchange for the return of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
He wished to remain loyal to those who lost their lives while planning and conducting the Shalit kidnapping, and didn’t want the Israelis to arrest the liberated prisoners all over again, forcing them to serve the rest of their sentences.
From the first intifada until the mid-1990s, Issawi, born 1979, resisted Israeli occupation by setting settler cars of fire and throwing Molotov cocktails. He told Al-Akhbar that he was careful not to be arrested because he wanted to support his family, since his four brothers – Raafat, Medhat, Firas, and Fadi – were held by the Israelis. But all that changed when his brother Fadi was killed in clashes that erupted in Issawiya, following the Hebron massacre in 1994.
The day Samer saw his brother in a pool of his own blood was the last straw.
Issawi was first arrested in 1998 and sentenced to a year and a half in prison for throwing a Molotov cocktail. He was later sentenced to six months in jail for beating up an Israeli soldier, then he was imprisoned again in 2000 for 15 days at the beginning of al-Aqsa intifada. He was later arrested for six months without charges.
“Israeli military attacks escalated during the second Intifada, and we began to hear about airstrikes on Gaza,” said Issawi, revealing that on the first day of his release he joined the ranks of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. He formed a five-member cell with friends and conducted 11 shooting operations targeting Israeli vehicles in the Ma’ale Adumim settlement, seven kilometers east of Jerusalem.
These shootings caused material damages and injured one Israeli officer. Once Issawi’s role was revealed, the Israelis hunted him down for a whole year and finally arrested him during the 2002 Operation Defensive Shield in Ramallah.
Issawi refused to appear before the Beit Eil military court and rejected the presence of an attorney because he didn’t acknowledge the legitimacy of the court. He told the judges that it was more of a traveling circus that the Israelis brought along to every territory they occupied.
Issawi was sentenced to 30 years in jail. He wasn’t surprised. Usually sentences in such cases are life in prison, even though no injuries were caused.
He said he was confident he wouldn’t serve his entire sentence, and told the judge, “I will be out before 30 years.” Ten years later, Issawi was released within the “Loyalty to the Free Men” prisoners’ deal.
Issawi as Art
Occupation forces arrested Issawi again on 7 July 2012. His interrogation continued for 30 days, following which he was accused of planning to kidnap Israeli soldiers. Meanwhile, the head of Israeli intelligence in the West Bank threatened to send him back to jail to serve the remaining 20 years of his sentence.
Issawi realized that he was in a serious situation. Hence, on July 27, he started returning two of his meals and settling for a simple one of two slices of bread and a spoonful of labneh and jam.
He maintained this diet for 19 days and was transferred to Nafha Prison. On August 24, he started training his body for an open hunger strike. He wrote a letter to prison services and informed them about his escalation. Back then, he settled for a glass of juice or milk or soup until he cut off food completely and started his open hunger strike on September 14, which also included a strike on water from time to time.
Finally, Issawi reached an agreement with the Israelis last April allowing him to return home to Jerusalem within eight months.
Israelis resorted to different tactics to try and exhaust Issawi into giving up his hunger strike. They sent him on prisoners’ buses to courts and moved him from prison to prison, forcing him to wait for hours for his jailers. They demolished his brother Medhat’s house and attacked him and his family in court despite his deteriorating health.
Samer dropped to 99 pounds and suffered attendant health risks. “When I slept on my right side, I felt numb, and the same with my left side. I also couldn’t sleep on my chest because I had a broken bone,” he said.
With His Family
“Every time I heard about Palestinians and freedom-loving people around the world joining this this battle, I forgot my own pain, mainly after the martyrdom of Mahmoud al-Titi and Mohammed Asfour. There was nothing I could offer them, just insisting on the goals that we put together before the hunger strike. I was also moved by young men protesting for the first time in front of Jerusalem Magistrates Court,” he said.
Issawi said, “The anger I saw in the eyes of the jailers after seven months of the hunger strike proved to me that we succeeded in raising the voices of prisoners and revealing Israeli violations of the prisoner swap deal, while preserving Palestinians dignity. All the goals were accomplished and the only thing left was me going back home.”
On the Palestinian official position, Samer said, “Let’s be honest, all of us Palestinians, from the president to common citizens, can’t even move from one region to the other without Israeli authorization. We don’t count on the official position as much as we count on the will of the people to exercise pressure to force politicians to take more serious steps. A Palestinian negotiator can sign a deal, but it would not be applicable on the ground without popular support.”