Lawyer of the Palestinian Ministry of Detainees, Fadi Obeidat, stated that Israeli physicians at the Ramla Prison Clinic decided to amputate the left leg of detainee Nahedh Al-Aqra’, 41, from the Gaza Strip. The detainee lost his right leg after being shot by the army.
Al-Aqra’ is suffering from very sharp pain in his leg due to infections resulting from his injury and due to the lack of adequate medical treatment as the only medication he received was painkilling pills.
His family has not been allowed to visit him since he was kidnapped while returning from Jordan on July 7, 2000, where he received medical treatment for multiple gunshot injuries in his legs, and was sentenced to three life-terms.
Israel’s recent decision to allow family visits to Gaza Strip detainees did not include detainees who are hospitalized at the prison clinic. Gaza Strip detainees were denied visitation rights after the second Intifada started in late September 2000.
In prison, he suffered various complications, including infections, and his wound became septic; the doctors performed several surgeries but could not save his leg.
Al-Aqra is a father of four children who have not seen him since 2000 despite extensive efforts conducted by the Red Cross.
In related news, the family of detainee Mahmoud Hamdi Shabana, 40, stated Saturday that he is suffering from a sharp pain in his throat, especially the vocal cords, and that he is not receiving any medical treatment.
Al-Aqra’ is held at the Negev Detention Camp; he was kidnapped more than 35 months ago and was confined under repeatedly renewed Administrative Detention orders without charges or trial since then.
- 18 Seriously Sick Detainees Facing Medical Neglect In Israeli Prisons (imemc.org)
- Israel Kidnapped 173 Palestinians This Month (arabworld360.blogspot.com)
Settlers arrive to the Azzeh family land – Photographs by Vicky Blackwell
Today, a group of settlers from the illegal settlement in Tel Rumeida arrived at Hashem Azzeh’s olive grove next to his house, whilst he and his family were harvesting their olives, yelling for everyone to get off of “their” land.
Hasham and his family were on their land harvesting olives for the first time in 5 years after being granted permission from the District Civil Liaison. He was accompanied by several members of his family as well as activists from the International Solidarity Movement. The situation quickly escalated as settlers pushed the Palestinians in order to try and enter Hasham’s house.
Within ten minutes the soldiers arrived and began to separate the Palestinian family and internationals and siding with the Israeli settlers. Arguments continued with both sides yelling “this is my land,” regardless of the fact that Hashem has the deeds to the land. The settlers were also heard shouting “This is not your land, this is the land of the Jewish people.”
At this point around ten more settlers had come down and joined in, shouting abuse at Hasham and his family. The soldiers pushed the Palestinians and internationals back towards Hasham’s house threatening to arrest anyone who did not obey. The soldiers grabbed a young Palestinian man by the name of Ahmad Al Atrash who was video taping standing behind international activists: pushed him against the wall and zip-tied his arms behind his back.
Then they went after an International activist trying to arrest him for taking video footage. While trying to escape they grabbed another of the International activists standing by, put him in a headlock on the ground and arrested him. Jawad Abu Eisheh who had arrived in solidarity with his neighbors was also captured and arrested.
The district of Tel Rumeida is heavily militarized and contains the homes of both Israeli settlers and Palestinians. Hasham’s family moved to Tel Rumeida in 1950 after being forcibly removed from their homes in what is now Israel. The Tel Rumeida settlement was installed in 1984.
In an attack in 2006 the settlers smashed Hasham’s nephews’ teeth in with a stone. That same year his wife (3 months pregnant at the time) was attacked and subsequently miscarried. Again in 2006 she was attacked, this time 4 months pregnant, and again, suffered from a miscarriage due to the attack.
The settlers living directly over Hasham’s house have also in the past raided his house, (bullet-holes near his front door show when the settlers shot live ammunition at his house), they cut his water-pipes and poisoned his water tank, cut his trees down in his garden and have physically attacked and assaulted him and his family as well as breaking-into and vandalizing his house on several occasions.
Previous reports on settler violence against the Azzeh family:
- Israeli army turns Palestinian homes in Hebron into military barracks (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Meet Zionist Miriam Levinger (alethonews.wordpress.com)
A Palestinian hunger striker in Israel’s Ramleh prison was knocked unconscious by prison guards earlier this week in the most recent abuse of prisoners, a coalition of human rights groups said on Thursday.
Hassan Safadi, who has gone 57 days without food, had his head slammed against the steel door of his prison cell during an assault on him and another hunger striker, Samer al-Barq.
The assault occurred after they refused to be transferred to a new cell, Addameer, al-Haq and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel said in a joint statement.
“During the attack, Mr Safadi’s head was slammed against the iron door of the cell two times, causing him to fall to the ground, unconscious. Prison guards then dragged him through the hall to be seen by all the other prisoners,” it said.
Safadi announced after the beating that he would no longer be drinking water.
The two prisoners are refusing food to protest their detention without trial under a system Israel calls administrative detention.
Over 2,000 Palestinian prisoners ended a mass hunger strike in May after reaching a deal with Israel.
The deal specifically stipulated that Safadi would be released following the expiration of his detention order, but the agreement was not upheld.
Two other Palestinian prisoners, Ayman Sharawna and Samer al-Issawi, have also been refusing food for 47 and 16 days, respectively.
Israel’s draconian administrative detention allows for the imprisonment of Palestinians without charge or trial for renewable six month periods.
- Detained Palestinian hunger strikers beaten: NGOs (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)
In June, the UN Committee Against Torture (the Committee) released a list of issues it would like the Government of Israel to address when the Committee reviews Israel’s compliance with the Convention Against Torture (CAT) in 2013. Specific issues raised by the Committee relevant to the continued prosecution of Palestinian children in military courts include:
- What steps has the Government of Israel taken to audio-visually record interrogations conducted by the Israeli Security Agency (ISA) as a further means to prevent torture and ill-treatment? DCI-Palestine further recommends that this inquiry should be broadened to include interrogations conducted by the Israeli police, being the body most likely to interrogate Palestinian children from the West Bank.
- What steps has the Government of Israel taken to ensure that all detainees are promptly brought before a judge and have prompt access to a lawyer? Under military law, Palestinian children are not required to be brought before a judge for 8 days, and can be denied access to a lawyer for up to 90 days. By way of contrast, Israeli children, including those living in the settlements, must be brought before a judge within 24 hours and can be denied access to a lawyer for 48 hours.
- Please indicate how many Palestinian prisoners from the Occupied Palestinian Territory are held in detention facilities inside Israel? Transferring and detaining Palestinian prisoners out of occupied territory violates article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and attracts personal criminal liability under articles 146 and 147 of the same convention.
- Please indicate the measures taken to ensure that the detention or imprisonment of a child is used as a measure of last resort, that solitary confinement is never used as a means of coercion or punishment and that all children receive appropriate education.
- Please also explain the regime applied to children under military detention, in particular if their interrogations are recorded and if their parents or other legal representatives can have access to them. DCI-Palestine recommends that all interrogations of children must be audio-visually recorded and parents must be entitled to accompany their children at all times, as is the right generally afforded to Israeli children. Further, children must be entitled to consult with a lawyer of their choice prior to their interrogation.
The full list of issues released by the Committee is available here.
- UK Foreign Office agrees that imprisoning Palestinian children inside Israel violates international law – but what are they going to do? (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israeli interrogators sexually harass Palestinian children in detention (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- World Psychiatric Association: Enabling Israeli Apartheid? (windowintopalestine.blogspot.com)
- A Seminar on Palestine’s Prisoners: A Lament on Injustice (alethonews.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)
RAMALLAH — The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) arrested 50 Palestinians and blocked the travel of 450 others at the Karame crossing between occupied West Bank and Jordan since the start of 2012.
The Palestinian prisoner’s committee said in a statement on Friday that most of those arrested in the first half of this year were young men or university students.
It noted that students and sick and elderly people were among the 450 citizens banned from travel.
The committee charged that the measure ran contrary to laws and norms, noting, meanwhile, that those allowed to travel are almost always delayed for no justified reason while some of them are questioned by the IOA intelligence.
The committee asked world organizations and human rights groups to intervene and put an end to such practices that violate the freedom of movement.
- #Norway | Israeli Occupation troops block entry of Norwegian solidarity delegation into Jenin (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
- CPR calls for an international investigation into death of Palestinian prisoners (altahrir.wordpress.com)
You may not know much about G4S, but they almost certainly know something about you. The world’s largest security firm, operating in over 125 countries and employing over 650,000 staff worldwide, are believed to be the second largest private employer worldwide, behind only Walmart. Globally they are responsible for security at over 150 airports, countless private companies, they do police work in the UK and are the main security firm for the 2012 London Olympics – so they make it their business to know who you are.
Known for their ruthless competitiveness, the British-Danish firm have recently been seeking to expand outside of their traditional base in Europe and the US. The Middle East is one of their main targets, with operations in the region worth $410 million and with just shy of 50,000 employees.
The contracts the secretive company have officially declared include private security for airports in Iraq, the UAE, and Qatar, while they are also known to guard US and European Embassies in countries across the Arab world, as well as in Afghanistan.
But G4S has a far darker side than the official brochures would have you believe. First there were the accusations that they were involved in the abuse of British detainees. More recently there has been damning evidence of their role in the illegal Israeli occupation of the West Bank.
A report from the WhoProfits? group, which aims to draw attention to the private companies making money from the ongoing occupation of historic Palestine, identifies four key roles that G4S carries out in the West Bank.“First, the company has provided security equipment and services to incarceration facilities holding Palestinian political prisoners inside Israel and in the occupied West Bank. Second, the company offers security services to businesses in settlements. Third, the company has provided equipment and maintenance services to Israeli military checkpoints in the West Bank. Finally, the company has also provided security systems for the Israeli police headquarters in the West Bank.”
Of these the first – their role in Israeli prisons both in the West Bank and Israel – has attracted the most criticism. Sahar Francis, head of the Palestinian prisoners’ charity Addameer, points out that the prisons in Israel and support for such institutions, are illegal under international law.
“According to the fourth Geneva Convention the occupying state cannot move occupied people – which means here the Palestinians – from the Occupied Territories to inside the occupying country,” she says.
Francis describes the conditions that Palestinian prisoners are often subjected to inside these prisons. “They face strip searches, isolation, attacks, and bans on buying stuff from the canteen,” she said. “Since last year they totally cancelled all the education systems – they are not allowed to study now and they can’t get books easily – and they are often banned from family visits, especially those from Gaza,” she added.
Europe Fights While Arabs Stay Silent
It is perhaps surprising that it is European politicians, rather than Arab ones, the majority of whom officially boycott Israel, who have led the campaign against G4S’ involvement in the occupation.
Until earlier this year G4S were responsible for the security of the buildings of the European Parliament but following a campaign led by Danish MEP Margrete Auken the contract was given to a rival firm. Officially the deal was not renewed, but Auken thinks the movement raised the profile high enough that the decision was inevitable.“I think it was clever of parliament officials to use this argument (that it was not renewed), otherwise they could have run into lots of court cases. I think that they would have hated to renew the contract with G4S after the campaign,” she tells Al-Akhbar.
While the company’s 2011 annual report acknowledges “criticism” of their role in the West Bank, Auken says she was amazed by the lack of interest from senior figures at G4S in their role in aiding an illegal occupation.
“We had meetings with G4S and they could not see the problem. It was as if they were not really aware that the settlements were illegal,” she says.
“When we told them ‘you are working for an occupying power in an occupied territory’ it was as though they thought it was open to political debate. But according to international law and EU law they (the settlements) are illegal. The EU considers the occupation illegal, the settlements illegal, the wall is illegal and having Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons is illegal,” she says.
The EU campaign stands in stark contrast to the silence of Arab states, even those that supposedly boycott Israel. The company’s annual review boasts about its role in Iraq, saying it is proud to have won a huge government contract to provide aviation security for the airport in Baghdad. In fact the Middle East is identified by the group as one of its key areas of growth in coming years.
“In the Middle East there was double-digit organic growth (excluding Iraq) – an excellent performance across the region. Qatar and Egypt performed particularly strongly, with Qatar helped by the new airport contract…In UAE, the business is being challenged by a shortage of labor supply and the general business environment in Dubai which has impacted our security systems business, but was successful at winning contracts such as Dubai Airport and in event security,” it says.
While Egypt, Jordan, Qatar and others have normalized relations with Israel to a greater or lesser degree, Lebanon is one of the few countries in the region that supposedly maintains the Arab League boycott of Israel with any severity. The terms of the boycott declare that businesses in non-Arab countries that operate in Israel should be prevented from doing so inside Lebanese borders.
While this rule is often largely ignored for Western conglomerates, Haitham Bawab, from the Lebanese Ministry of Economy’s Boycott department, thinks the nature of G4S’ involvement in Israeli jails means they should not be allowed to operate in the country.
“Allowing G4S to operate in Lebanon goes against Lebanon’s boycott rules. Following our investigations, we sent the main office a letter, asking for the banning of the company to be discussed during the upcoming Boycott Conference.”
Asked what sanctions were under consideration, Bawab said they “would include banning G4S from working on Lebanese territories and prohibiting Lebanese public and private companies and the government from working with G4S. In addition, no G4S products would be allowed to enter Lebanon.”
If a unity agreement were reached then it would be seriously damaging to G4S’ business across the Middle East, with countries such as Iraq being forced to change their policies.
But here’s the rub. The boycott conference is usually held in Damascus every six months. The ongoing political turmoil in the country has forced all such events aside, with the conference due to take place in April being canceled. There are further complications as if it were to be hosted elsewhere several countries would be likely to prevent Syrian delegates from attending for political reasons, sparking a crisis with Damascus. As yet there is no set date for the next conference.It seems that Lebanon is the only country which has pushed for G4S to be considered abusers of the anti-boycott laws, and a proposal sent last year to the Central Boycott Committee has only recently been considered, with no other countries adding their input.
“We have enough information about G4S and the boycott rules apply to it. So there would be no need to postpone making a decision which will, most probably, be made during the upcoming Boycott Conference,” Bawab says optimistically.
Yet Bawab may even find opposition inside Lebanon against cutting back on the lucrative business. The scale of the work G4S do in Lebanon is unclear, with even Bawab saying he didn’t know exactly what they did in the country. But the head of a rival private security firm says they have “a couple of hundred guys” in the country, and it is not uncommon to see men in clothes with the company’s logo guarding private companies in Beirut’s Hamra.
Al-Akhbar discovered that the firm carried out a security review for the country’s preeminent university, the American University of Beirut. The 60-page confidential document details potential improvements that could be made to security and recommends that G4S operatives take over the running of the university’s security. It calls for much tighter security on the open-plan campus, with visitors to the site facing more strict regulations. The proposed changes, it says, will “significantly improve the interaction between AUB and G4S.”
In fact the company is backed by major political figures including the former Youth and Sports Minister Sebouh Hovnanian. Speaking to Al-Akhbar Hovnanian confirmed that his son had shares in the company but said he was not directly involved in the running of the company. He declined to comment on the company’s role in the West Bank.
- 178 International Decisions in Condemnation of Israel’s Mistreatment of Palestinian Prisoners (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
- Security company’s loss of EU contract shows penalty of occupation (jfjfp.com)
- Palestinian minister calls for UN boycott of Israel over torture claims (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)