Palestine Prisoners Day

Palestine Update  133

Palestine Prisoners Day

 Palestine Prisoners Day was observed on 17th April 2018. Protests were staged inside and outside prisons on a mass scale. The rejection of ‘Administrative detention’ is one of the sore points in the struggle for justice in the prison system. Administrative detention is incarceration without trial or charge, alleging that a person plans to commit a future offense. It has no time limit, and the evidence on which it is based is not disclosed. Israel employs this measure extensively and routinely, and has used it to hold thousands of Palestinians for lengthy periods of time. While detention orders are formally reviewed, this is merely a semblance of judicial oversight, as detainees cannot reasonably mount a defense against undisclosed allegations. Nevertheless, courts uphold the vast majority of orders. Addameer has demanded Addameer release of all administrative detainees and for them to be dealt with under international law.  Human rights organizations around the world are also being urged to demonstrate solidarity with administrative detainees. Currently, there are over 427 administrative detainees in Israeli jails including 7 PLC members.

This edition of Palestine Updates is dedicated to the thousands upon thousands of Palestinians who have offered enormous sacrifices to resists the occupation. They now face the trauma of cruel prison conditions and prospects of seemingly never-ending jail terms. Many have probably never even committed a crime, but may have exercised their fundamental right to dissent. Addameer states, “Israel arrests thousands of Palestinians in an attempt to suppress the will to self-determination and continue its colonization. The result: approximately 800,000 Palestinians arrested since 1967”.Equally tragic is the detention of children in massive numbers. Between 2015 and 2018, the number of Palestinian minors moving in and out of Israeli detention centers doubled, according to Addameer. But nothing tangible has changed despite some improvements in policy and practice and the maltreatment of minors remains widespread. There is a pattern of cruel and inhumane treatment of Palestinian minors in the Israeli prison system.

Another year has passed and those in prison will ponder when they will released, what life is really like for their families and friends, and above all, when freedom and liberation for all will come.

We have selected three important items of news. We urge you to view the link below for more:

Ranjan Solomon

On Palestinian Prisoner’s Day the boycott remains defiant

On the occasion of Palestinian Prisoners Day, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association salutes the continued struggle of the over 6,000 Palestinian political prisoners currently being held in Israeli prisons. Every year Israel arrests thousands of Palestinians in an attempt to suppress the will to self-determination and continue its colonization. The result: approximately 800,000 Palestinians arrested since 1967.

Addameer reiterates total support for the ongoing boycott of all court proceedings regarding administrative detention. The commitment of the prisoners and their lawyers has been unwavering since the action began on 15 February 2018. A statement asserted that “the core of resisting the policy of administrative detention comes from boycotting the Israeli legal system.” Administrative detainees also stated that “[W]e put our faith and trust in our people, their power and institutions, and in the civil society which will not leave us alone in this fight. This is a national patriotic act that should not be violated by any individual or institution. As such, we call on the Palestinian Authority to make a submission to international criminal court on the issue of administrative detention as soon as possible.”

Addameer calls on all Palestinian human rights organizations to adopt one clear plan with the aim of supporting administrative detainees in their coming steps as to ensure their success. Such support requires national and international solidarity campaigns in order to amplify the voice of the prisoners.  While they may be trapped in cells, we are able to ensure their message is spread far and wide. Additionally, we urge the activation of international accountability measures against the Israeli occupation’s violations of international humanitarian law.

Finally, Addameer calls for release of all administrative detainees and for the occupation to recognize their rights, as specified in the relevant international legal instruments. We also ask all human rights organizations around the world to support and show solidarity with our administrative detainees. Currently, there are over 427 administrative detainees in Israeli jails including 7 PLC members.

Palestinians mark Prisoner’s Day in the West Bank and Gaza

Thousands of Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) mobilized on Tuesday, April 17, to mark Palestinian Prisoner’s Day. According to prisoner’s support and human rights group, Addameer, as of March 1, 2018, “there were 6,500 Palestinian political prisoners being held in Israeli prisons” and detention centers, including 356 children, seven members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, and 427 administrative detainees incarcerated without legal proceedings. Since the beginning of 2018 alone, 1,928 Palestinians have been detained by Israeli occupation forces, as reported by the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society.

For Palestinians, Prisoner’s Day honors political prisoners held by Israel and demonstrates Palestinian-wide solidarity and resolve. This year, those who are being administratively detained by Israeli occupation forces have understandably been at the center of commemorative efforts. In February, Palestinian prisoners launched an open-ended boycott of all (Israeli) military court proceedings. The boycott remains on-going, with widespread popular and institutional support; plans for “escalatory steps,” including a renewed hunger strike, were recently suspended, however, as prisoner representatives have been discussing prison conditions and the policy of administrative detention with the Israel Prison Service (IPS).

Palestinian child detainees have also been highlighted by this year’s Prisoner’s Day event. A 2017 report from Defense for Children International, showed that in the fall of 2015, “the number of Palestinian children detained in the Israeli prison system skyrocketed” amid “heightened violence” and a wide-scale crackdown on Palestinian protests. Between 2015 and 2018, the number of Palestinian minors moving in and out of Israeli detention centers doubled, according to Addameer. Following sustained pressure from rights organizations, which had documented Israel’s prosecution of children as young as twelve in the same military courts as adults, the (then) Israeli head of the Central Command in the West Bank, Gadi Shamni, issued a military order in July 2009 establishing juvenile military courts in the oPt, with the stated aim of “improving the protection of minor’s rights.” The order came into effect in September of that year.

Since the introduction of juvenile military courts, a number of complimentary military orders have been issued, which have led to some notable changes in the detention and prosecution system. For example, in September 2011, Military Order 1676 “raised the age of majority in military courts from 16 to 18 years.” Another order (1685) in August 2012 reduced the amount of time a minor could be detained before appearing in a military courtroom for the first time from eight days after arrest to four.

On the whole, however, the abuse of minors remains rampant. Since 2009, international and regional rights groups, including UNICEF, Military Court Watch, Addameer, Al-Mezan, Defense for Children International, and Save The Children, have documented a continuing pattern of cruel and inhumane treatment of Palestinian minors in the Israeli prison system. Testimonies recently collected by The Palestinian Committee of Prisoners and Released Prisoner’s Affairs have corroborated these reports and shown that Palestinian children continue to be subject to systematic abuse during arrest and interrogation. More recently, in March 2018, Israeli rights group B’TSelem released a report entitled “Minors in Jeopardy: Violation of the Rights of Palestinian Minors by Israel’s Military Courts.” In it, the organization demonstrates how changes made since 2009 have had a “negligible impact on minors’ rights,” and only “improved appearances.”

Most notably, the post-2009 amendments only address military courtroom proceedings, and “do not deal with the crucial stages of arrest and interrogation.” This is the most important issue to tackle, because it is during these initial phases of arrest when “confessions” and testimonies are extracted for later proceedings against the detainee. The report shows that during these phases, minors are isolated from both their parents and legal counsel.

As the B’TSelem report notes, even the changes to courtroom proceedings are limited. For example, the report states that the jurisdiction of juvenile courts “does not extend to minors’ remand hearings,” even though these are a significant part of court proceedings. These hearings continue to take place in regular military courts. In addition, since most cases involving minors are settled through plea bargains that occur “between the defense and the prosecution,” juvenile courts do not protect minors as much as they approve plea bargains already reached.
Whether for minors or adult detainees, true justice will come not through reform, but through dismantling the occupation. For ostensibly this reason, the hashtag #BornaPrisoner has been trending online to mark Prisoner’s Day. It illustrates how the Israeli occupation is designed to make it “a matter of fate for a Palestinian to become a prisoner.” This is a sentiment worth remembering as those of us outside of Palestine consider the best ways to advocate for the rights of Palestinians prisoners and, indeed, all Palestinians.

Israel isolates hunger striking Palestinian prisoners

A leader of a sweeping hunger strike of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails was put in solitary confinement as Israel was seeking to break the protest. The hunger strikers will be “disciplined said Israeli authorities.”

Marwan Barghouti, was transferred from the Hadarim Prison in central Israel to the Kishon detention center in the north. Barghouti is a leader of one of the largest protests in Israeli jails in recent years, where some 1,200 detainees in several prisons announced on Monday an indefinite hunger strike until Israel accepts their demands to improve incarceration conditions. Dozens of other prisoners the Prison Service considers leaders of the protest were also transferred to other jails, according to local media. Prison Service “has started taking disciplinary measures against the strikers, and some prisoners have been transferred to separate wings.” Prison service does not negotiate with prisoners, Israel says.

Barghouti, who is seen by some as a potential successor to President Mahmoud Abbas, published an Op-Ed article in the New York Times. Under the title “Why we are on hunger strike in Israel’s prisons,” Barghouti wrote that 50 years of Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip has proved that Israel has been using an “inhumane system” incarceration to break “the spirit of prisoners…by inflicting suffering on their bodies, separating them from their families and communities and using humiliating measures to compel subjugation…As part of Israel’s effort to undermine the Palestinian struggle for freedom, an Israeli court sentenced me to five life sentences and 40 years in prison in a political show trial that was denounced by international observers,” he wrote. “Israel has tried to brand us all as terrorists to legitimize its violations, including mass arbitrary arrests, torture, punitive measures and severe restrictions.”

He promised that the new hunger strike “will demonstrate once more that the prisoners’ movement is the compass that guides our struggle, the struggle for Freedom and Dignity, the name we have chosen for this new step in our long walk to freedom.” The article riled the prisons authority. The Hebrew-language Ynet news website reported that the Prison Service launched an investigation to find out how Barghouti “smuggled” the article outside the jail.

The prisoners’ 13-item demands list includes visitation rights, installing public telephones and air conditioning systems, allowing prisoners to keep books, newspapers, clothes and food as well as stopping administrative detentions, an indefinable incarceration without charges for renewable periods of six months, and solitary containment.

According to figures provided in February by Israel’s Prison Service, at least 6,820 Palestinians, including hundreds of minors, are incarcerated in Israeli prisons. Most of them are jailed for participating in the struggle against the Israeli control over the West Bank and Gaza, lands that Israel seized in the 1967 Middle East War and where the Palestinians wish to establish their future state.

Don’t befriend me for a day, and leave me a month. Don’t get close to me if you’re going to leave. Don’t say what you don’t do. Be close or get away.
لا تصاحبني يوماً .. لتهجرني شهراً ولا تقربني .. لتبعدني .. لا تقل ما لا تفعل كُن قريباً .. أو ابتعد.
Mahmoud Darwish.