On 17 April, Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network salutes the struggle of 7,000 Palestinian prisoners inside Israeli jails: struggling for not only their own freedom, but for the freedom of the land and people of Palestine. Palestinian prisoners struggle through torture, solitary confinement, abuse, repression, denial of family visits, arbitrary imprisonment and brutal racism on a daily basis. Yet they not only persist and exemplify “samidoun” – those who are steadfast – the Palestinian prisoners are leaders of the Palestinian liberation movement, and of the global struggle for justice and liberation.
Each year, on 17 April, in Palestine and around the world, Palestinians and supporters of justice in Palestine come together to review the situation of Palestinian prisoners and demand their freedom. It is an opportunity to renew our work and our activity to free Palestinian prisoners, and to examine the last year of struggle, inside and outside the prison walls.
Imprisonment has always been a weapon of colonialism in Palestine. From the British colonizers who suppressed Palestinian revolts through mass imprisonment, home demolitions, and execution – and who first imposed the “emergency law” of administrative detention used against Palestinians today – to the Zionist colonizers who for 68 years have imposed a system of occupation, apartheid, criminalization, racism and dispossession upon the Palestinian people, the colonizers of Palestine have imprisoned strugglers, leaders, fighters, and visionaries. Imprisonment targets all sectors of the Palestinian people: workers, strugglers, teachers, journalists, doctors and health workers, farmers, fishers; from Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Occupied Palestine ’48; refugees in the camps inside Palestine and around the world – millions denied their right to return and yet pursued and imprisoned in international jails.
In the past year, as throughout this history of struggle, we have witnessed time and again the resilience, resistance and struggle of Palestinian prisoners. It is not only the case that thousands of Palestinians have been jailed since October 2015 in an attempt to stop the rising intifada in the streets and villages of Palestine; it is also the case that Palestinian prisoners are engaged in daily intifada, daily resistance, behind the prison walls. They are part of the struggle – indeed, leaders in the struggle – confronting occupation, colonialism, settlements, home demolition, land confiscation and extrajudicial executions.
From Palestinian lawyer Muhammad Allan, to Palestinian journalist Mohammed al-Qeeq, to baker and resistor Khader Adnan, to the strugglers of the “Battle of Breaking the Chains” – Nidal Abu Aker, Ghassan Zawahreh, Shadi Ma’ali, Munir Abu Sharar and Badr al-Ruzza – Palestinian prisoners have put their bodies on the line in hunger strikes, demanding not only their own freedom but an end to the system of administrative detention without charge or trial that currently holds approximately 700 Palestinians in Israeli prisons. Today, Sami Janazrah, Fouad Assi, and Adib Mafarjah are on hunger strike against administrative detention. Eyad Fawaghra is refusing food, demanding an end to the denial of family visits. Shukri Khawaja is demanding an end to solitary confinement, joined by up to 88 other Palestinian prisoners expressing their solidarity in daily hunger strikes.
Today, 17 April, thousands of Palestinian prisoners are refusing food in a one-day hunger strike in support of prisoners in Nafha subject to violent attacks by Israeli occupation prison guards and special forces on 14 April. Throughout the prisons of the south, prisoners have joined across political lines in rejection of the violent raids that are a constant of Palestinian prisoner life in Israeli jails.
Statistics: Israeli jails hold approximately 7,000 Palestinian prisoners. These include over 400 children and 70 women prisoners, held in 22 prisons and interrogation centers. There have been 4,800 arrests since October 2015, including 1,400 children and minor teens. Approximately 700 Palestinians are held in administrative detention without charge or trial.
Women Prisoners: The number of women prisoners is now 68, including 17 girls under 18. Imprisoned in Hasharon and Damon prisons, injured women prisoners are being denied access to needed medical services and are instead supported by their fellow prisoners. The longest-serving woman prisoner, Lena Jarbouni, has been imprisoned since 2001. The youngest girl prisoner, Dima al-Wawi, is 12 years old. Khalida Jarrar. Palestinian parliamentarian, leftist and prisoner advocate, serving a 15-month sentence, is also among the women prisoners at Hasharon.
Administrative Detainees: Approximately 700 Palestinians are imprisoned without charge or trial under administrative detention by Israeli military order. Administrative detention orders are issued on the basis of secret evidence hidden from both the detainee and their lawyer. These orders are indefinitely renewable and are often renewed repeatedly over years.
Sick and ill prisoners: Over 1,700 sick prisoners inside Israeli jails suffer from various diseases, worsened by ill treatment, delay and denial of medical care, and dismissal of medical issues. Dozens of Palestinian prisoners suffer from serious diseases, including cancer, heart disease, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, stomach ulcers and high blood pressure. There are 24 prisoners with cancer in Israeli prisons, and 23 Palestinians permanently confined in the Ramle Prison Clinic, infamous among Palestinian prisoners for its poor treatment. Some of them are unable to move from their hospital beds. Despite severe illness, they are consistently denied medical release or access to private physicians.
Child Prisoners: Over 400 Palestinians under 18 are imprisoned. Many are arrested in traumatic and violent night-time military raids on their homes, and Palestinian child detainees report very high levels of physical and psychological abuse and torture. Six children are held in administrative detention. Several Palestinian children between the ages of 12 and 14 are imprisoned in Israeli jails. Recent reports from Defence for Children International Palestine and Human Rights Watch highlight the abuse of Palestinian children in Israeli detention, interrogation and imprisonment.
Former Prisoners, Re-Arrests and Pursuit: Former prisoners, including over 70 released in the 2011 Wafa al-Ahrar prisoner exchange for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, are pursued for renewed arrest and imprisonment. Under Israeli Military Order 1651, released prisoners in an exchange face the reimposition of their original sentence at any time on the basis of “secret evidence.” As in administrative detention cases, Palestinian prisoners and their lawyers are denied access to this evidence, which can include allegations such as “association” or “support” for a “prohibited organization,” a category which includes all major Palestinian political parties. 47 former prisoners have seen their sentences reimposed under this order. The targeting of former prisoners does not only happen inside Palestine. The pursuit, attempt to extradite, and killing of Omar Nayef Zayed in the Palestinian Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria emphasizes the global nature of this targeting. Rasmea Odeh, Palestinian community leader in the United States, is threatened with imprisonment and deportation on the basis of her imprisonment – and torture – by Israeli forces in the 1960s and 1970s.
Torture is a constant reality of Israeli occupation arrest, detention and interrogation of Palestinians, including beatings, psychological torture, threats and insults, including threats of sexual abuse and violence and threats to family members; forced stress positions and shackling; sleep deprivation; long-term solitary confinement and isolation.
Palestinians are facing ongoing and increasing attacks. The extrajudicial execution of Palestinians under the control of Israeli occupation soldiers – including but not limited to the filmed and photographed executions of Abdelfattah Al Sharif and Hadeel al Hashlamoun – are a new attack on Palestinians that is part and parcel of the same system of terror and repression that carries out mass arrests and violent dawn raids on Palestinian homes. This comes alongside the ongoing imprisonment of the bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli occupation soldiers. Some Palestinian corpses have been held for over 30 years. Today, the Israeli occupation forces continue to withhold 15 bodies of Palestinians. Nearly every week brings news of a new racist and repressive law being considered or enacted by the Israeli occupation: the “Law to Prevent Harm Caused by Hunger Strikers” permitting forced feeding; lengthy sentences for stone throwing; the imprisonment of 12-year-old Palestinians; threats to execute Palestinian prisoners.
The imprisonment of Palestinians is a collective attack on the Palestinian people and their struggle for liberation. These are not individual cases, but part of the comprehensive attempt of a colonial power to erase and suppress the indigenous Palestinian people and their collective struggle. We see this in the criminalization of Palestinian political parties, all declared “prohibited” by military order, and the military courts and trials that convict Palestinians at a rate of over 99% on the basis of these military orders that govern occupied Palestine. We see this in the targeting of Palestinian student organizers and leaders like Abdullah Ramadan, Asmaa Qadah and Donya Musleh, the ransacking of student blocs’ offices and the attempt to disrupt the vibrant political life of Palestinian students on campuses. We see this in the increased threats of arrests or denial of residence made against Palestinian BDS organizers and activists building the international movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. And we see this, of course, in the imprisonment of Palestinian political leaders like Ahmad Sa’adat, General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine; Marwan Barghouthi, Fateh leader; Khalida Jarrar, Palestinian parliamentarian and prisoners’ advocate; Hassan Yousef, Hamas leader and Palestinian Legislative Council member; and the countless local leaders targeted for administrative detention and military trials.
We see this in the imprisonment of over 18 Palestinian journalists – 43 in the past six months – and the forced closure of Palestinian TV and radio stations, and in the targeting of Palestinian researchers and human rights defenders like Eteraf Rimawi of Bisan Center, and also in the administrative detention of teachers like circus trainer Mohammed Abu Sakha, 24, who combined Palestinian identity with circus performance as he taught numerous Palestinian children.
We also see the targeting and imprisonment of Palestinians and strugglers for Palestine in international courts and prisons. Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, Lebanese Arab communist struggler for Palestine, has been imprisoned in French jails for 32 years, despite being eligible for release for 16 years. Hillary Clinton – today a US presidential candidate – personally intervened to pressure the French state to overturn its own judiciary to keep him imprisoned. The interior minister who agreed to do so, Manuel Valls, today threatens and supports the prosecution of dozens of Palestine solidarity activists across France for calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions against the Israeli state for its ongoing crimes against Palestinians. In the United States, the Holy Land Five are serving lengthy sentences for fundraising for charity for Palestinians among the Palestinian community. Rasmea Odeh, torture survivor and community leader, is facing imprisonment and deportation because of her time in Israeli prisons. Omar Nayef Zayed was pursued in Bulgaria for extradition and renewed imprisonment over 25 years after he escaped Israeli prisons, only to be found dead inside the Palestinian Embassy in Sofia, where he had taken refuge, on 26 February.
Just as imprisonment is a collective experience, the resistance struggle for the liberation of the prisoners is also collective. As the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council noted in their statement for Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, “The issues of prisoners transcends one of individual human rights; it is also one of collective rights of an entire people – the Palestinian people, who continue to be deprived of the right to self-determination and sovereignty.”
And so the struggle to liberate Palestinian prisoners – and all political prisoners – is not simply a struggle for an individual human right, but for collective liberation from occupation, apartheid and settler colonialism. This is one reason why this struggle finds such resonance with other struggles for justice and liberation, linked in collective confrontation of oppression, imperialism, settler colonialism, Zionism and racism.
The movement to boycott G4S, the British-Danish security conglomerate that provides security systems, equipment and control rooms for Israeli prisons, checkpoints and police training centers – and youth imprisonment, migrant detention and deportation contracts in the US, UK and Australia – has grown even more in the past year. Palestinian prisoners and Palestinian civil society organizations joined with hundreds of international organizations to demand the UN stop doing business with G4S, a demand that has achieved clear victories in Jordan and elsewhere. In the United States, prison divestment movements challenging the mass incarceration of Black youth and other oppressed communities in the US have won divestment from G4S and the cancellation of its contracts at multiple universities. Indeed, the collective movements against G4S have garnered so much strength that the corporation announced that it would be selling off its Israeli subsidiary and exiting other “reputationally damaging” industries like youth incarceration in the US and UK within the next one to two years. At the same time, on a daily basis, G4S and its “security” technology continue to contribute to the insecurity and oppression of Palestinians and other oppressed people. The struggle to boycott G4S must continue until it is out of occupied Palestine and the prison business.
Palestinian prisoners called for “the inclusion of our cause, as prisoners of freedom and fighters for the freedom of our people, human dignity, and the right to a dignified life, within the program of the boycott movement as a major issue of paramount importance.” The struggle of Palestinian prisoners is an essential and powerful part of BDS and boycott struggles, and builds our solidarity and our responsibility to act in support of other oppressed peoples and communities.
As the Black4Palestine statement highlighted, “Israel’s widespread use of detention and imprisonment against Palestinians evokes the mass incarceration of Black people in the US, including the political imprisonment of our own revolutionaries. Soldiers, police, and courts justify lethal force against us and our children who pose no imminent threat. And while the US and Israel would continue to oppress us without collaborating with each other, we have witnessed police and soldiers from the two countries train side-by-side.”
The United States, European Union and Canada are complicit in the imprisonment of Palestinians, funding Israel and its military, supporting its military research and development and defending it in international bodies from prosecution or condemnation for its oppression of Palestinians. At the same time, these states are responsible for the detention and incarceration of migrants, the mass targeting, criminalization and oppression of Black communities, police repression, racist incarceration in countries throughout Europe, and the colonial repression of Indigenous people and communities. These policies represent one logic, that of imperialism.
At the same time, these forces are confronted by a growing movement of joint struggle against racist imprisonment and mass incarceration, in North America and around the world. Black communities, migrant justice movements, Indigenous movements and others have been leading powerful upsurges against the state repression, violence and incarceration targeting entire communities and oppressed peoples. Palestinian and pro-Palestinian activists and organizations are involved – and must be more deeply so – in all of these critical struggles.
These powerful grassroots movements – including the movement for justice in Palestine – are witnessing breakthroughs on a popular level, witnessing real, mass public demand for an end to the policies of mass incarceration and the state violence of imprisonment and police repression. Prison divestment and abolition movements and demands are growing, gathering allies and support.
The movement to free Palestinian political prisoners – and to free Palestine – is a movement to confront settler colonialism, Zionism and imperialism. It is connected deeply to movements to free international political prisoners imprisoned by the same forces: Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier, Oscar Lopez Rivera, Ricardo Palmera, the political prisoners of the Philippines, of the Black Liberation Movement, and all prisoners jailed for their struggle for justice.
On 17 April 2016, Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, it is critical to escalate the struggle; to consolidate and build on the victories achieved in the G4S campaign; to deepen our collective movements against mass incarceration, racism, police repression and state violence; to raise high the voices, ideas and visions of imprisoned Palestinians, leaders in the struggle for a free and liberated Palestine; and to do everything we can, at grassroots, popular and official levels, to support the demands of the Palestinian prisoners, to seek the freedom of the Palestinian people, and to hold accountable and prosecute the Israeli officials responsible for their oppression and torture in all international arenas, from prosecutions in the International Criminal Court to the international grassroots isolation of settler-colonial Israel through BDS campaigns.
We invite activists and organizations to build on and intensify their work on Palestinian prisoners in the coming year, as we seek to do this in our own organizing. We invite organizers to form Samidoun chapters in your own cities and areas, or to form Samidoun committees and subcommittees to work on Palestinian prisoners in your existing organizations. To join us, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
RAMALLAH – Four Palestinians arrested this week for Facebook posts have spoken of physical assault during their detention and interrogation, in the latest evidence to emerge of abuse that rights groups say is systemic in Israel’s jails.
The testimonies were collected by the Palestinian Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs and relate to four Palestinian youths, including at least two teenagers detained overnight Tuesday.
Hussein al-Sheikh, a lawyer with the committee, said 19-year-old Sameh Abu Sel was “seriously assaulted” when Israeli forces stormed his home in al-Arrub refugee camp north of Hebron on Tuesday.
The youth was tied up and left outdoors in cold weather for more than 10 hours, al-Sheikh said, noting that the mistreatment left him sick.
Meanwhile, al-Sheikh said that 18-year-old Ahmad Raed Jadallah, from Beit Ur at-Tahta in Ramallah district, was physically assaulted by Israeli forces during the four-hour drive to the Etzion detention center after he too was detained Tuesday.
The lawyer also cited two other recently detained Palestinians — Muhammad Mahmoud Othman and Muhammad Samer Othman — who also spoke of being physically assaulted in the Etzion detention center, although no further details were provided.
All four detainees were charged with “inciting violence” against Israel in posts made Facebook, al-Sheikh said.
In recent months, Israeli has detained scores of Palestinians for social media activity, alleging that a wave of unrest that swept the occupied Palestinian territory last October was encouraged largely by “incitement.”
Palestinians have instead pointed chiefly to the frustration and despair brought on by Israel’s nearly 50-year military occupation of the Palestinian territory and the absence of a political horizon.
Those detained for Facebook posts join an estimated 7,000 Palestinians currently inside Israeli prisons, where reports of mistreatment and torture is common.
Earlier this year, Israeli rights group B’Tselem released a report documenting “systemic” torture in Israel’s Shkima prison, which they said was taking place with total impunity.
Nidal Abu Aker, Munir Abu Sharar, Badr al-Ruzza, Ghassan Zawahreh, and Shadi Ma’ali are engaged in the “Battle of Breaking the Chains” for the seventeenth day, continuing in their hunger strike to demand the end of administrative detention. All five are imprisoned by the Israeli military without charge or trial on the basis of “secret evidence” and have launched a hunger strike to demand not only their freedom personally, but an end to the policy that has been used against them.
Several more Palestinian prisoners have joined in the hunger strike and its demands: Bilal Daoud Saifi, who like Abu Aker, Zawahreh and Ma’ali is a Palestinian refugee who lives in Dheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem, who started his strike on 30 August; Suleiman Eskafi of Al-Khalil, an administrative detainee on strike since 1 September; and Amir Shammas of Al-Khalil, an administrative detainee who previoulsy engaged in a hunger strike, had been promised that his detention would not be renewed, but since has had his detention renewed. In addition, Noor Shoukri Jaber, a Palestinian prisoner sentenced to life imprisonment, began a hunger strike on 2 September in protest of lack of medical care and his arbitrary transfer.
All of the striking prisoners have been thrown into isolation in an attempt to pressure them to end their strike and to stop other prisoners from joining the strike.
The “Battle of Breaking the Chains” is sparking actions of support in various cities in Palestine. A permanent tent of support has been set up at the main entrance of Dheisheh refugee camp, where four of the strikers – and three of its leaders – live, and demonstrations of support have been organized in Nablus, Al-Khalil, Bethlehem city, and Ramallah, among other cities.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network expresses its strongest solidarity with the striking prisoners, and calls for international actions, mobilizations and events to demand their freedom. We cannot wait until these brave strugglers are facing death to act and demand not only their freedom as individuals, but the abolition of administrative detention – on the road to freeing every Palestinian prisoner held in Israeli occupation jails. It is not the case that Israeli military courts are any more legitimate, fair or acceptable than administrative detention – they are just as arbitrary, racist and illegitimate. But administrative detention is a weapon of mass terror used against the Palestinian people, and it is critical to bring this practice to an end. These Palestinian prisoners have put their bodies on the line in order to end administrative detention – and it is imperative that we act to support them. These prisoners’ struggle is not only about their individual freedom – it is part of their struggle for return and liberation for Palestine.
1. Sign on to this statement in support of the prisoners’ demand to End Administrative Detention. Organizational and individual endorsements are welcome – and organizational endorsements particularly critical – in support of the prisoners’ demands and their actions. Click here to sign or sign below:http://bit.ly/EndAdministrativeDetention
2. Send a solidarity statement. The support of people around the world helps to inform people about the struggle of Palestinian prisoners. It is a morale booster and helps to build political solidarity. Please send your solidarity statements to email@example.com. They will be published and sent directly to the prisoners.
3. Hold a solidarity one-day hunger strike in your area. Gather in a tent or central area, bring materials about Palestinian prisoners and hold a one-day solidarity strike to raise awareness and provide support for the struggle of the prisoners and the Palestinian cause. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to inform us of your action – we will publicize and share news with the prisoners.
4. Protest at the Israeli consulate or embassy in your area. Bring posters and flyers about administrative detention and Palestinian hunger strikers and hold a protest, or join a protest with this important information. Hold a community event or discussion, or include this issue in your next event about Palestine and social justice. Please email us at email@example.com to inform us of your action – we will publicize and share news with the prisoners.
5. Contact political officials in your country – members of Parliament or Congress, or the Ministry/Department of Foreign Affairs or State – and demand that they cut aid and relations with Israel on the basis of its apartheid practices, its practice of colonialism, and its numerous violations of Palestinian rights including the systematic practice of administrative detention. Demand they pressure Israel to free the hunger strikers and end administrative detention.
6. Boycott, Divest and Sanction. Hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law. Don’t buy Israeli goods, and campaign to end investments in corporations that profit from the occupation. G4S, a global security corporation, is heavily involved in providing services to Israeli prisons that jail Palestinian political prisoners – there is a global call to boycott it. Palestinian political prisoners have issued a specific call urging action on G4S.
Senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Zahar said on Monday that the United States is a partner to the Israeli occupation and its crimes committed in the Gaza Strip.
Speaking to the Palestinian Al-Quds television, he said: “We mean the US administration, not the American people, who took to the streets in large rallies against Israel’s crimes.”
He explained that lifting the Israeli siege of Gaza is not a demand, but a right. “We have the right to exist and lifting the siege is one of our rights,” he said, “it has to be lifted without a price.”
Regarding the Israeli soldiers who were abducted during Israel’s latest invasion of the Gaza Strip, he said their price is the release of the Palestinian prisoners. “This is our policy, which the enemy knows very well,” he said.
He continued: “There are two kinds of prisoners: MPs, former ministers, Hamas leaders and those prisoners freed in previous swaps; and the prisoners who are spending long terms in Israeli jails.”
The first kind should be released without a price, he asserted, while “the Israeli prisoners in our hands” are the price for the second kind of prisoners.
He also spoke about the seaport and airport that Hamas insisted on during the ceasefire talks in Cairo. “The airport was built during the time of late Yasser Arafat, but the occupation forces demolished it,” he said. “It is our right to rebuild it.”
“The seaport was supposed to be built in Gaza’s central port, but the occupation forces have stopped any positive measures from happening in the Strip, including the seaport,” he explained. “The Palestinian Authority was too weak to defend establishing the seaport. It is our right, which we seek to achieve. Whoever attacks us, we will attack them.”
Al-Zahar stressed that the Israeli occupation has to be prosecuted before the International Criminal Court (ICC). If the Palestinian Authority does not carry out this mission, individuals in Europe and Latin America and every free country should pursue Israeli criminals at the ICC.
He concluded by comparing negotiations and resistance as methods to gain Palestinians rights. “There are diplomatic negotiations, which supporters think will gain a Palestinian state,” he said. “However, they have now failed and its supporters warn that they are going to join international organisations if negotiations are not revived.”
Meanwhile, he said the resistance programme is more “successful” and it insists on not making any concessions on Palestinians’ rights.
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: