Palestine Update 291
Hamas warns Israel against torture of untried prisoners
Israel has been accused of severely torturing one of its prisoners, Samir Arbid whom it called the leader of a militant PFLP cell. Israel claims that Abird is responsible for a bombing at a natural spring in the occupied West Bank. That attack allegedly killed a 17-year-old Israeli girl and injured her father and brother. At the time when Samir Abird was tortured, there was no conclusive evidence that he was involved. And even if he was, punishments must be according to the rule of law, not left in the hands of soldiers who have no accountability for their barbaric acts.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has said the Israeli State is responsible for Samer Arbid’s life. Haniyeh said: “We hold the Israeli occupation responsible for the lives of the Palestinian prisoner Samer Arbid and his comrades, and we assure that by endangering their lives, the occupation will open the gates of hell,” The PFLP stated. The group called on the Palestinian public to attack Israeli soldiers “in support of our valiant ,, our soldiers on the front lines”. Haniyeh also vowed security prisoners won’t be left ‘to the Zionist sadism’ “We’ll never abandon our prisoners. We’ll never leave them [as] trophies to Zionist sadism and they won’t remain much longer behind the bars of the occupation.”
Israeli systems have no humane considerations whatsoever and torture of all sorts is widely prevalent. Sexual abuse of Palestinian women is common place while children and adults suffer harassment, poor food – qualitative and in quantity, poor health services, pathetic sleeping conditions, and harsh conditions in the winter, and more.
This issue of Palestine Updates focuses on the conditions of prisoners and is prompted by the torture of an alleged terrorist. The victim is, till today, an accused and his guilt has not been conclusively proven. These are crimes committed under a criminal system by the occupier and the first crime, it must be remembered, is the occupation itself. The worse crime is the nature of the crime- colonialist and racist in its treatment of human beings who are mostly innocent.
Prison systems in the US and Israel have something in common
Activists say private companies are profiting from the incarceration of racially profiled groups in the US and Israel
In both the US and Israeli prison systems, commercial interests are laced into the institutional infrastructure, from security and communications to stocking canteens and meal services.
In the US, roughly 4,000 private corporations are believed to profit from the so-called “prison-industrial complex”, according to the advocacy organisation Worth Rises. The US locks up more people per capita than any other country in the world, and there are currently an estimated 2.3 million people behind bars there.
In the US, as in the occupied West Bank, prison commissaries force inmates to spend their own money on their basic needs. In Israel, the private company Dadash Hadarom Distribution has stocked the canteens in all Israeli prisons since at least 2009, providing food and other goods to detainees who can afford to spend their own money there.
A 2013 investigation from Palestinian advocacy organization Palestine Monitor found that prices charged for goods in Israeli prison canteens were sometimes “radically higher” than those charged for the same goods in the Palestinian territories. Two pounds of chicken sold in the Ofer military prison in the West Bank, for example, cost $17.38. The same amount of chicken cost $5.52 in the city of Ramallah.
Nse Ufot, a US activist and the executive director of the nonprofit organisation the New Georgia Project, noted the similarities between prison systems in the US and Israel during a recent trip to the occupied West Bank. “The idea that the Israeli private contractor runs the commissary, that is straight out of the US playbook…The criminal justice system here is similar because of the violence – the unaccountable, unchecked violence, the targeting of minorities, and the insane profit motive that powers all of it.”
Some corporate giants have been profiting from both the Israeli and US incarceration systems. In 2016, the German industrial engineering company Siemens Corp won a $38.6 million contract with the US Federal Bureau of Prisons to implement energy and water-saving measures at two correctional facilities in eastern Kentucky. In Israel, Seimens worked with the Israeli company Orad Group to provide a security system and fire-detection system for a facility used to hold Palestinian prisoners. Data and telecommunications provider Motorola Solutions Inc provides jail and corrections management software to the US prison system and also employs prison labour. In 2015 and 2016, the company sold IPS services and systems worth over $108 million, including equipment for the Ofer military prison in the West Bank, according to Who Profits.
British security giant G4S previously operated in both the US and Israeli prison systems, providing electronic surveillance equipment and ankle monitors, among other goods and services. The new Israeli version of the company, G1 Secure Solutions, continues to provide services – including CCTV monitoring systems – to prisons across Israel and the occupied West Bank.
Prison systems in the USA and Israel- similarities –Read more
Rights group demands immediate release of unconscious detainee
Palestinian rights group Addameer called upon the Israeli occupation authorities to release Samer Arabeed, 44, immediately, after an interrogation during which he fell unconscious. “All confessions taken under torture and ill-treatment are illegal and cannot be taken as evidence in court,” Addameer pointed out. “Taking those confessions means the right to a fair trial is violated and thus the detention is arbitrary.”
Addameer noted that its lawyer had been allowed to meet Arabeed inside an Israeli hospital, where he found him “unconscious”. According to the rights group, “He was rushed to hospital in Israel after suffering some serious deterioration in his health due to torture and ill-treatment during interrogation.” Samer Arabeed was arrested September, by a special unit of the Israeli occupation forces. During his arrest, he was beaten harshly by the forces using their guns.
Read more from Middle East Monitor
Dehumanizing Palestinians in Israeli jails
A nearly three-day-long journey in a metal box-like van tied to a metal chair. Hands and feet cuffed. As hot as a sauna in the summer, and as cold as a refrigerator in the winter. No toilet. No food. Hours and hours spent collecting other sick prisoners before finally arriving at Ramleh prison hospital, where inmates with severe health conditions go for treatment. And even there, the sick prisoner continues to wait — sometimes for days — for the right doctor to see him. As Qaddoura Fares, president of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club, described the trip in what is called a “bosta” or bus to Ramleh clinic, he mentioned how most ailing prisoners reject making the journey because of the transport conditions and complicated procedures. “A lot of prisoners refuse to get out because they understand what is waiting for them,” Fares said. Currently, more than 5,000 Palestinians are held in Israeli jails with 700 suffering from poor health and 297 of those in critical condition, according to 2019 statistics from Palestinian non-governmental organization The Center for Defense of Liberties and Civil Rights “Hurryyat.”
Read more in Palestine Monitor
Statistics on Palestinian minors in custody of Israeli security forces
At the end of August 2019, 185 Palestinian minors were held in Israeli prisons as security detainees and prisoners, including two under the age of 14. Another 2 Palestinian minors were held in Israel Prison Service facilities for being in Israel illegally. The IPS considers these minors – both detainees and prisoners – criminal offenders. In addition, a small number of minors are held in IDF-run facilities for short periods of time. The following figures were provided by the Israeli military and the IPS.
DCI-Palestine works to end abuse of children’s rights
Israel is the only country in the world that automatically prosecutes children in military courts that lack basic and fundamental fair trial guarantees. Since 2000, at least 8,000 Palestinian children have been arrested and prosecuted in an Israeli military detention system notorious for the systematic ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian children.
Around 500-700 Palestinian children are arrested, detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system each year. The majority of Palestinian child detainees are charged with throwing stones, and three out of four experience physical violence during arrest, transfer or interrogation.
In no circumstance should children be detained or prosecuted under the jurisdiction of military courts. However, as a minimum safeguard while Palestinian children living under Israeli military occupation continue to be arrested and prosecuted within the Israeli military court system, Israeli authorities must respect and ensure basic due process rights and the absolute prohibition against torture and ill-treatment. From the moment of arrest, operations and procedures must be carried out in accordance with international juvenile justice standards, specifically the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, including:
Detention must only be used as a last resort, and only for the shortest appropriate time;
Children must not be subjected to physical or psychological violence;
Children must have access to legal consultation and parents prior to and during interrogations;
Children must only be arrested during daylight hours;
Children must be properly informed of their right to silence;
Children must not be blindfolded or painfully restrained;
Children must not be subjected to coercive force or threats;
All interrogations must be audio-visually recorded;
Any incriminating evidence obtained during interrogation where a child was not properly and effectively informed of his or her right to silence must be excluded by the military courts;
Any statement made as a result of torture or ill-treatment must be excluded as evidence in any proceeding;
The practice of using solitary confinement on children in Israeli military detention, whether in pretrial detention for interrogation purposes or as a form of punishment, must be stopped immediately and the prohibition must be enshrined in law;
The practice of using administrative detention orders against Palestinian children must stop immediately and the prohibition must be enshrined in law;
All credible allegations of torture and ill-treatment must be thoroughly and impartially investigated in accordance with international standards, and perpetrators brought promptly to justice; and
Children must not be transferred out of the West Bank in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.