Threats of Escalated Retaliatory Action: PCHR Condemns Israeli Attacks on Palestinian Prisoners
Date: 14 September 2021
Time: 10:06 GMT
The Israeli occupation has subjected four Palestinian prisoners to assault and torture, denied their lawyers and their families visitation rights after the Israeli forces re-arrested them on Saturday, 11 September 2021, after they managed to escape Galboa prison along with two others on 6 September 2021. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights condemns the Israeli practices against the prisoners and asserts that they amount to war crimes. PCHR also condemns the occupation’s hysteric reaction following the escape, and the collective punishment measures taken against all Palestinians in Israeli jails, amid threats of escalating their retaliatory action.
Following an intense security operation, the Israeli police rearrested Yakoub Qadri and Mahmoud Arda on Saturday dawn near Nazareth. A few hours later, the Israeli police rearrested Zakaria al-Zubeidi and Mohammed Arda near Shibli-Umm al-Ghanam town in the Lower Galilee. Signs of beating and torture were visible on Zakaria al-Zubaidi’s face in the video released by Israel of his arrest along with Arda; both of them were handcuffed and blindfolded in the video.
All four of the captured prisoners were presented for a hearing before the Nazareth District Court the following day where their arrest extended 9 additional days allegedly for: “Escape, aiding and abetting in an escape, conspiracy to commit an attack, and membership in a hostile organization and providing services to it.” The Israeli occupation denied Palestinian lawyers and human rights organizations from visiting the 4 arrestees and refused all petition for visitation and for updates on their humanitarian conditions. The occupation also censored all information pertaining to their situation inside the prison and did not supply any information to their families or lawyers. This situation has induced suspicions of retaliatory action being taken against them, including physical assault, solitary confinement, and denial of their basic rights. There has also been news from associations specialized in the situation of prisoners that indicate they were subjected to assault and torture; it was also reported that Zakaria Zubeidi was transported to Rambam Hospital, Haifa for treatment.
On another note, the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) adopted a series of retaliatory measures and actions against Palestinian prisoners after the group of 6 jailbroke from Galboa, including wide-scale transfer and solitary confinement against large groups of prisoners, putting many under interrogation, and raiding prisons. The collective punishment and retaliatory actions escalated to a complete ban on all visits to prisoners until the end of September.
IPS announced top-tier alert across all prisons and adopted a series of retaliatory measures against Palestinian prisoners, particularly at Galboa, including raids and searches of prisons. IPS transferred hundred of prisoners from Galboa, 16 were sent to Negev prison and 34 others were sent to Ofer prison. Additionally, several prisoners affiliated with the Islamic Jihad Movement were interrogated and some were subjected to torture and degrading treatment. IPS deprived prisoners of some features including TVs, shortened break time, shut departments and facilities, including the washers and cantina; these measures were accompanied with threats of additional punitive measures. Also, both Ramon and Negev prisons were raided and searched.
The Israeli occupation’s retaliatory actions did not spare the families of the 6 prisoners as the Israeli occupation forces raided their families and relatives’ homes, interrogated them, and abused them in an attempt to pressure the escaped-prisoners.
Meanwhile, the prisoners protested against the retaliatory measures and against transporting and distributing the Islamic Jihad prisoners to other prisons; they set fire to many cells in section 6 in Negev Prison, so the Israeli authorities referred prisoners in Section 6 to other sections and raided the other sections in Negev prison. IOF carried out raids into Ramon Prison and called for backups from the Special Units to put the situation in the prison under control. Gilboa Prison has witnessed the most violent clashes among all prisons after one of the prisoners poured hot water on a jailer’s face in response to the Prison Service’s retaliatory measures. Also, ‘Ofer Prison witnessed clashes and tensions between the Prison Service and the inmates.
Moreover, 6 prisoner continue their hunger strike in protest against their administrative detention; including one who has been on hunger strike for 2 months. The Israeli authorities refused to respond to their demands to release them and took retaliatory measures against them, including banning their lawyers to see them. In the same context, the Prison Service on 09 September prevented PCHR’s lawyer from visiting his client, Hisham Abu Hawwash, from Dura in Hebron, who went on a hunger strike in mid-August, in protest against his administrative detention ongoing for a year. It should be noted that Abu Hawwash is under solitary confinement in ‘Ofer Prison, west of Ramallah.
Amid fears for the lives of more than 5000 prisoners in the Israeli jails facing the cruelest retaliatory measures, Palestinian prisoners’ associations, human rights organizations and NGOs sent urgent an urgent appeal to the United Nation (Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian Territory, Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; Special Rapporteur on the right to physical and mental health; and the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention); and to the diplomatic delegations in order to provide protection for the Palestinian prisoners. The organizations reviewed the measures taken against prisoners since 06 September 2021.
PCHR highlights the black history of the Israeli occupation in terms of the violations committed against the Palestinian prisoners since 1967 and the cruel and degrading treatment that inflected tens of deaths among prisoners either under torture or during the recurrent suppression of the prisons’ sections, including shooting, teargassing and brutal beating and assaults.
PCHR warns that lives of around 5000 Palestinian prisoners are at risk amid the Prison Service’s growing threats and increasing retaliatory measures as well as taking away their privileges they have fought for decades with their bodies, souls.
PCHR calls upon the international community to oblige the Israeli authorities to respect the rights of prisoners and provide them protection as well as treating them according to the international law.
PCHR calls upon the international community to practice pressure on the Israeli authorities to allow the 4 prisoners’ lawyers to visit them and check their conditions, making sure they were not subject to retaliatory measures and enabling them to meet their lawyers before appearing at the court; a moment the prisoners need the most. There is nothing that would prevent a lawyer from attending the hearing or talking with and seeing his client to check his health situation closely.
PCHR also calls upon the International Committee of Red Cross to fulfill their responsibilities and visit the four prisoners as soon as possible to check on them and inform their families of their health conditions as they are extremely concerned and fearing for their sons’ lives.