Every nation has the right to fight for its freedom, for its legitimate rights and for the future of its children. These freedom fighters locked up behind Israeli prison bars also depend on us to fight for them, to carry their fight to the outside world, to remind the world of their suffering and their sacrifices. It is our word they depend upon, our word to inform those at home and those far away, to mobilize people on their behalf, to uncover the crimes being committed against them behind locked doors, and to keep their issue on the top of our national priorities. During the last couple of weeks, several reports and articles were published on the issue of Palestinian prisoners. There were a number of campaigns and a few petitions distributed widely in support of certain cases. While some of these petitions and reports found great resonance on social sites such as facebook, twitter, and some yahoo and google groups, the stories of other prisoners and their suffering were limited to a few websites. And unfortunately, while some arrests make the headlines, tens of other arrests remain sidelines, numbers added to the list of thousands locked up inside Israeli jails. Regardless of the excuses given, ALL Palestinian prisoners deserve our interest and our work and campaigning for their freedom, and they don't deserve to be reduced to a single line added to certain petitions whenever we find it appropriate or necessary.
Last week, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club started a campaign calling for the release of Akram Mansour, 49 years old, from Israeli imprisonment because of his deteriorating health situation. Mansour has been locked up in Israeli jails since more than 30 years now and suffers from several diseases. His complaints were often ignored by the Israeli prison authorities, until one day he collapsed during morning exercise. Despite loss of hearing, the Israeli prison authorities told him there was nothing wrong with him and refused him further medical examination. After several demands that he be thoroughly examined and treated, Mansour was given a CT scan at the so-called Ramleh prison “hospital”, which showed the existence of a mass growing inside Mansour’s head, causing the loss of hearing and other ailments. Mansoor lost both his parents and one of his sisters while in prison, unable to say goodbye to them, and might die in prison without having the chance to see his remaining siblings. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Club
“appealed to all institutions and the authorities concerned with prisoners’ affairs to activate his case for his release and to provide appropriate treatment as well as attention to the issues of sick prisoners, and to raise awareness at all levels and international forums.” (www.ppsmo.org)
Palestinian reports of experiments being conducted on Palestinian prisoners by the Israeli prison authority have always been denied by Israel, claiming as usual that the Palestinians are spreading lies and it being another Palestinian propaganda. Actually, all it needs is a study of the medical status of Palestinian prisoners inside Israeli jails to realize that this is no lie and no propaganda: the number of Palestinian prisoners in need of medical care is on the rise. Those who urgently need medical help have often to wait long before receiving the appropriate treatment, i.e. if they are lucky enough to get any treatment at all, and are often left to die a slow and painful death or are treated with mere painkiller, no matter how severe the case is, while those who suffer from minor ailments end up with severe problems after they get “treated” at the so-called prison clinics. Examples exist of prisoners who needed urgent surgery but didn't receive it, and of others who had to wait years before they were finally operated, with the condition of the patients not getting better after the operation, and others who lost their eye-sight, movement in their limbs and caught serious diseases after being “treated”. There are cases of prisoners suffering from diabetes where the deliberate delay in providing the needed medical help had led to the amputation of their limbs. Several registered cases of mass food poisoning inside the prisons strengthen what many prisoners and prisoner organizations say about Palestinian prisoners being used against their will and knowledge as test persons in medical experiments conducted by the Israeli prison authorities. Also, Palestinian prisoners who need urgent treatment get interrogated in the so-called prison clinics and are blackmailed into giving information or admitting to things they didn't commit. Israeli soldiers comprise the medical staff running these so-called clinics, whereby an Israeli soldier can become a nurse after only 6 months of training. Palestinian prisoners are transferred in vans to the so-called Ramlah prison “hospital” instead of in ambulances and they are hand and leg cuffed, including during the operations which are often conducted without anesthetic.
According to several Palestinian prisoner organizations there are 1500 Palestinian prisoners with medical problems. Many of them suffer from heart diseases, high blood pressure, kidney diseases, diabetes, paralysis, vision loss, dental problems and other chronic diseases. Some suffer from past injuries inflicted upon them by the IOF during their arrest, or by the Israeli prison authority and the Israeli intelligence (Shabak) during interrogation and after it. Today, there are 16 Palestinian prisoners who suffer from cancer, which, according to several reports, is on the rise among Palestinian prisoners inside Israeli prisons. At least 150 Palestinian prisoners suffer from heart diseases and blood pressure problems, tens have become handicapped after being shot at by the IOF just before their arrest, and at least 12 suffer from Hemiplegia. In addition to physical suffering, more than 40 Palestinian prisoners suffer from mental and psychological ailments due to the interrogation methods used by the Israeli Shabak and the Israeli prison authorities, which include torture.
Raid Darabieh, 36 years old, from Jabalya RC, was diagnosed with kidney stones and was operated by the Israeli prison authority 4 times in the back and spine after the discovery of a tumor in the spinal cord. All operations failed, leaving Darabieh with open back-wounds and the loss of feeling in his feet, making him a cripple.
Anas Shihadeh had an Appendectomy without any anesthetic being used. During the operation his heart stopped beating 3 times.
Nur Alasa, 23, suffered from kidney failure and cirrhosis of the liver after being given pills by the Israeli prison authority as treatment for his cold.
Jum’a Muhammad Musa, 66 years old and a father of 8, died on 24.12.2008 in Israeli jails after spending 10 years in the so-called Ramlah prison “hospital”. Musa was given all sorts of medicines causing him only more pain and suffering, and an injection given to him caused paralysis in his left arm and leg.
Mohammad Abu Wahdan was tied to the bed in the “hospital” by his hands and legs and was left to die a slow and painful death.
Avigdor Lieberman, current Israeli foreign minister, stated on 07.07.2003 in front of the Israeli Knesset in a discussion on Palestinian political prisoners that “It would be better to drown these prisoners in the Dead Sea if possible, sine that's the lowest point in the world.” , adding that as transport minister, he would be willing to provide the buses to take the prisoners there.
Tzahi Hanegbi, former Israeli ministry for internal security, said in 2004 after Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails declared a hunger strike against the inhumane prison conditions: “They can strike for a day, a month, until death. We will ward off this strike and it will be as if it never happened. He has ordered large, open grills to be set up to barbecue meat and for bread to be baked just outside the prison doors, to torture prisoners with the smells. Prison guards are encouraged to eat all this in front of the fasting prisoners.” He later said: “for all I care, they can starve to death!”
Commenting on the same issue, Dany Naveh, former Israeli health minister, gave orders preventing Palestinian prisoners from receiving treatment in health facilities: “let them be treated where they lie … we don't want these murderers in hospitals.”
According to reports there are at least 28 Palestinian prisoners who are dying in Israeli prisons.
197 Palestinian prisoners have been killed by the IOF since 1967; 70 as a result of torture, 71 killed in cold blood after being arrested, 49 as a result of medical negligence and 7 being shot dead inside prisons by the Israeli prison authorities.
49 Palestinian prisoners were killed due to medical negligence by the Israeli prison authorities:
Khalil Rashaydeh, Abdelqader Abu Al-Fahim, Ramadan Al-Banna, Omar Awad-Allah, Omran Abu Khalaf, ‘Ajaj Alawneh, Nasser Hweitat, Farid Ghannam, Idrees Nofal, Rasim Halawah, Ali Al-Ja’farai, Anis Dawlah, Salah Abbas, Ali Al-Shatreet, Salim Abu Sbeih, Michael Lazaro, Isaac Maraghah, Mahmoud Najajrah, Qandil Abdel Rahman, Ata Ayyad, Mohammad Hammad, Abdel Min’im Kolek, Omar AlQasem, Muhammad Al-Rifi, Raeq Suleiman, Jasir Abu Rmeileh, Hussein ‘Abeidat, Yahya Natour, Ahmad Ismael, Riyad Udwan, Yousif Al’ar’ar, Mohammad Dahameen, Ahmad Jawabreh, Walid Amr, Bashir ‘Eweis, Fawwaz Al-Balbal, Mohammad Abu Wahdan, Bashar Bani Odeh, Jawad Abu Maghseeb, Suleiman Darabjeh, Rasim Ghneimat, Abdel Fattah Raddad, Jamal Saraheen, Mahir Dandan, Shadi Sa’aydeh, Omar Masalmeh, Fadi AbuRub, Fadil Shaheen, Jum’a Musa.
70 Palestinian prisoners were killed as a result of torture at the hands of Israeli Shabak and prison authorities:
Yousef Al-Jabali, Mustapha Harb, Fathi Al-Natsheh, Younis Abu Sbeitan, Qasem Abu Aker, Ahmad Abu Amerah, Qasem Abu Khdeirah, Awn Al-‘Ar’er, Othman AlBahsh, Deeb Shtayeh, Hashim Karim, Salim Safi, Mustapha Al-Drabee’, MuhyiIldeen Al’Uri, Mohammad Wishah, Hassan Al-Sawarkah, Issa Abdel Hamid, Mustapha Al-Awawdah, Naser Aldeen Al-Shakhsheer, Fareez Tashtoush, Omar Shalabi, Salem Abu Sitta, Jamil Barakat, Fouad Hmed, Ahmad Dahdoul, Youssef Karim, Nasser Alheb, Said Abu Sitta, Faiz Al-Tarayrah, Salameh Hassouni, Husam Qar’an, Yacoub Dababish, Hamzah Abu Sh’eb, Khalil Abu Khadijah, Mahmoud Freitekh, Ghassan Lahham, Tariq Al-Hindi, Tariq Hammouri, Awwad Hamdan, Khadir Tarazi, Ibrahim AlRa’i, Iyad Aqil, Nabil Ibdah, Hani AlShami, Ibrahim Mutawwar, Mahmoud AlMasri, Jamal Abu Sharkh, Khalid Alsheikh Ali, Abdallah Alawneh, Atiyah Za’aneen, Ali AlShahid, Sami Zu’rub, Mustapha Akkawi, Ahmad Barakat, Samir Omar, Mohmmad Barbas, Haazim Eid, Mustapha Barakat, Ayman Barhum, Samir Salameh, Ayman Nassar, Mohammad AlJundi, Abdel Samad Hreizat, Ma’zuz Dalal, Majid Daghlas, Khalid Abu Dayyeh, Nidal Abu Srour, Ibrahim Abu Hawwash, Ali Abu Alrub, Wael AlQarawi.
71 Palestinian prisoners killed in cold blood by the IOF after being arrested:
Ahmad Al-Nuweiri, Kahlil Syam, Zaki Syam, Ahmad Abu Dayyeh, Yopusef ‘Asaliyeh, Ahmad Afaneh, Haris Abu Alhayyeh, Ali Abu Sultan, Samih Abu Hasaballah, Mohammad Khreizat, Hassan Abu Rukba, Khader Hilani, Bilal Burini, Jamal Qiblan, Mohammad Abu Jami’, Bader Karadah, Ibrahim Barad’ah, Yousef Al-Mughrabi, Hassan Abu Sh’era, Mahmoud Khalil, Jamal Thalji, Mustapha Yassin, Ali Julani, Issa Dabadbeh, Midhat Abu Dalal, Mohammad Hussein, Yousef AlSukarji, Jassir Samaro, Nasim Abu-Alrus, Karim Mafarjeh, Anwar Abdel Ghani, Abdel-Ghani Abu Daggah, Mahmoud Salah, Basim Abu Shihadeh, Khalid Awad-Allah, Ismael Zaid, Said Mahdi, Abdel Rahman Abdallah, Omar Musa, Ahmad ‘Ajaj, Azmi ‘Ajaj, Baha’ Sharqawi, Hazim Qabaha, Ala’ Khadriyeh, Yassin Al-Agha, Jadallah Shokah, Omran Gheith, Faiz Jabir, Mohammad Al’s’is, Jasir Hasaneen, Ahmad Atiyah, Abdel Afu AlQassas, Falah Masharqah, Qasem Al-Ja’bari, Mohammad Al-Khawaja, Walid Srouji, Hisham Abu Jamous, Sufian Al-‘Ardah, Tha’er Al-Mahdawi, Jamal Abu Mallouj, Iyad Al-Khatib, Ali Abu Hijleh, Nassar Abu Slim, Tariq Al-Hindawi, Mahmoud Kmel, Salah Sheikh Eid, Mazin Shabat, Salim AbulHija, Mahmoud Abu Hassan, Fawwaz Freihat, Obeidah Dweik.
7 Palestinian prisoners were shot dead inside prisons by the Israeli prison guards:
Assad Al-Showa from Gaza was killed on 16.8.1988 in Al-Naqab detention camp.
Bassam Al-Somoody from Al-Yamon was killed on 16.8.1988 in Al-Naqab detention camp.
Nidal Deeb from Ramallah was killed on 8.2.1989 in Majido prison.
Abdallah Abu Mahruqa from Deir Al-Balaha was killed on 12.9.1989 in Ansar 2.
Sabry Mansoor from Al-Jeep was killed on 7.7.1990 in Ofer.
Musa Abdul Rahman from Nuba was killed on 18.1.1992.
Mohammed Al-Ashqar from Sida was killed on 22.10.2007 in Al-Naqab detention camp.
A week earlier, on 25.09.2009, it was reported that Palestinian prisoner Sameh Al-Shobaky from Qalqylia had entered his 7th year in isolation in Israeli prisons. Al-Shobaky was transferred to isolation immediately after his arrest and the subsequent interrogation, and he stays in isolation till this very day. Through his lawyer, Al-Shobaky demanded more attention from the media to the situation of Palestinian prisoners, especially those held in isolation, and to inform the world of the daily human rights violations these prisoners are exposed to on a daily basis on the hands of the Israeli prison authority. He “appealed to all the human rights organizations and human rights groups to act on the subject of the prisoners in isolation and raising it to all levels, to get the prisoners out of isolation from the world.” (www.ppsmo.org). Prisoners who are placed in isolation are either locked up in solitary confinement where they neither see nor hear any other human being, or share the same tiny cell with one other prisoner. The Palestinian Prisoners’ Club confirms the existence of
“a phony court where the prisoner is taken every six months and in the event of their being two prisoners they are taken to it once a year. This court obeys the Israeli intelligence court orders “Al-Shabak” and the prisons administration “Al-Shabas”, and often requires the extension of the period that the prisoner is in isolation without giving reasons for it, and it also lacks the bare images and elements of a fair trial.” (www.ppsmo.org)
According to the latest reports, there are at least 50 Palestinian prisoners in isolation, including the two female prisoners Wafa’ Albis and Latifah Abu Thra’ who has been in isolation for more than three years. Prisoners who are placed in isolation remain so for many years and have no access to other prisoners or to news from other prisons. Among those, there are more than 14 prisoners who have spent over five years in isolation such as:
Abdul Nasser Al-halisy and Tayseer Samody: have each spent over 13 years in isolation.
Sameh Al-Shobaky and Mo’taz Hijazy: have each spent 7 years in isolation.
Jamal Abu Al-Hijan, Ahmed Al-Magriby, and Hassan Salameh: have each spent 5 years in solitary confinement.
Other prisoners in isolation include Abbas Al-Sayed, Saeyd Al-Tubasy, Anas Jaradat, Abu Ali Maqadmeh, Thaer Hammad, Ahmed Awaywy and Islam Hadmy.
In isolation, many Palestinian prisoners are subjected to all forms of physical, psychological and emotional suffering. The isolation cells have an area of only 1.8m x 2.7m, including the bathroom, with no room for movement and very bad ventilation. These prisoners are punished further by denying them family visits. Family members, who often make the long and hard trip to the Israeli prisons, are often turned back without being allowed to see their loved ones. Isolated prisoners who have family members also locked up inside Israeli jails are also not allowed to see them. For example, Jamal Abu Heyja “is not allowed to see his wife Asma'a Abu Al Hayja, a former prisoner whose life is withering with cancer. Also, he is not permitted to see his small son and two daughters or to meet any of his three sons who are imprisoned in the occupation jails.” Other punishments include sending the prisoners to the “snooker”, which a very small room (180cm x 150cm). The only facilities in the room are two containers for drinking and washing after urinating. Prisoners locked up here are allowed only once a day to go to the toilet. Here, prisoners are completely isolated, not only from other prisoner, but from any connection to the outside world such as newspapers, radios or even watches to know the time. Mohammed Barash, who is blind and “suffers from the amputation of his left leg and other diseases in his body ... was taken to the snooker and tied by his hands and foot to the bed, and during the night he suffered from suffocation and could not get up because of the restrictions, he had no choice but to scream to get the attention of the nurse.”
As a result of the conditions prevailing in isolation cells, a number of isolated prisoners suffer from diseases and do not receive the needed medical treatment. A report of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club mentions:
Jihad Yaghmoor: ”suffers from severe pneumonia, and has recently been suffering from cases of suffocation at night then he awakens not finding anyone near him, so he knocks on the door shouting to force the nurse to attend.”
Abdul Nasser Al-Halisy: suffers from a difficult mental disorder. He is in isolation since over 13, of them 8 in solitary confinement.
‘Owaydeh Kallab: suffers from mental and physical illnesses, and general weakness, to the extent that “he is unable to prepare himself a cup of tea, previously the Palestinian prisoners prepared food and sent it to him, till the administration prevented the transport between rooms, despite requests by prisoners and his difficult health situation.”
Hassan Salameh: suffers from an injury in the stomach inflicted upon him on his arrest.
Mohammed Jaber Abdoh: suffers from urinary tract problems.
Mo’taz Hijazy: suffers from the brutal assault on him, because of which he was transferred to the intensive care unit. He has been in solitary confinement for the past 8 years.
Hani Jabir and Ahmad Shukry: were brutally beaten.
Among the over 11,650 Palestinian prisoners locked up inside Israeli jails, there are 325 “veteran prisoners”. The “Veteran Prisoners” is an expression used by prisoner movements and organizations to refer to Palestinian prisoners who have been locked up in Israelis jails since before the signing of the so-called peace agreement between Israel and the PLO in 1993. There are 108 Palestinian prisoners who have spent more than 20 years inside Israeli jails. These prisoners are called the “deans” of Palestinian prisoners. According to Abdel Nasser Farawna, a Prisoner Affairs expert, 20 of those belonging to “deans of prisoners” list are from Jerusalem, 16 are from the Palestinian Territories occupied in 1948 and 72 are from the Occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Among the Palestinian “deans of prisoners” there are 13 prisoners who are in Israeli prisons since more than 25 years. These prisoners are:
Na’il Saleh Al Bargouhti, 52 years old, Ramallah, in prison since 04.04.1978 (31 years, 6 months) and is thus the longest-standing political prisoner in the world.
Fakhri (Asfour) Abdallah Al Bargouthi, 55 years old, Ramallah, in prison since 23.06.1978 (31 years, 4 months)
Akram Abdel Aziz Mansour, 47 years old, Qalqilya, in prison since 02.08.1979 (30 years, 2 months)
Fouad Qasem Al-Razem, 51 years old, Jerusalem, in prison since 30.01.1981 (28 years, 8 months)
Ibrahim Fadel Jaber, 55 years old, Hebron, in prison since 08.01.1982 (27 years, 9 months)
Hasan Ali Salma, 51 years old, Ramallah, in prison since 08.08.1982 (27 years, 2 months)
Othman Ali Misleh, 57 years old, Nablus, in prison since 15.10.1982 (27 years)
Sami Khaled Younis, 77 years old, from ‘Ara, in prison since 05.01.1983 (26 years, 9 months)
Karim Yousif Younis, 51 years old, from ‘Ara, in prison since 06.01.1983 (26 years, 9 months)
Maher Abdel Latif Younis, 52 years old, from ‘Ara, in prison since 20.01.1983 (26 years, 9 months)
Salim Ali Al Kayal, 56 years old, from Gaza, in prison since 30.05.1983 (26 years, 4 months)
Hafith Qundus, 46 years old, from Yafa, in prison since 15.05.1984 (25 years, 5 months)
Issa Abed Rabbo, 46 years old, from Dheisheh RC, in prison since 20.10.1984 (~ 25 years)
I am not a full-time writer and can only write in my free time, and sometimes it takes me weeks to finish a paper. While writing this one, almost every single day there were news and reports of new arrests, of more suffering inside Israeli jails, of more horrors and new crimes being committed against Palestinian prisoners by the Israeli prison authority. No matter how many times we raise the issue of Palestinian prisoners, we will not do them justice. Those who are locked up behind bars are denied the sight of the green meadows of Palestine and the smell of the Taboon bread, solely for their love of Palestine, and for their fight for freedom, which is a legitimate right. They are denied the sight of their families, the hug of their mothers, the talk with their fathers. And they are denied the chance to say goodbye to those family members who die while waiting and hoping. And as long as there is still one single Palestinian in Israeli jails, it is our duty to talk about them, to write about them and demand their release, every single one of them! It is our duty to mobilize local and international support and efforts for their protection and release. It is our duty to expose the crimes committed against them and the daily violation of their human rights starting with their right to be free. Their struggle is our struggle, their captivity is our captivity and their freedom is our freedom. We are their voice and they depend on us to keep their issue alive and not forgotten.
According to latest statistics there are:
Some 11,650 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails
326 Palestinian children inside Israeli jails
32 Palestinian women inside Israeli jails
50 Palestinian prisoners in isolation cells
1500 Palestinian prisoners in need of medical care
16 Palestinian prisoners suffer from cancer
150 Palestinian prisoners suffer from heart diseases and blood pressure problems
12 suffer from Hemiplegia
40 Palestinian prisoners suffer from mental and psychological ailments due to the interrogation methods used by the Israeli Shabak and the Israeli prison authorities, which include torture
197 Palestinian prisoners have been killed by the IOF since 1967: 70 as a result of torture, 71 killed in cold blood after being arrested, 49 as a result of medical negligence and 7 being shot dead inside prisons by the Israeli prison authorities
325 Palestinian “veteran prisoners” have been locked up in Israelis jails since before 1993
108 Palestinian “deans of prisoners” have spent 20+ years inside Israeli jails
13 Palestinian prisoners are in Israeli prisons since more than 25 years
Some 500 Palestinian administrative detainees