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Palestinians forever changed by Israeli torture

Former detainees who suffered abuse while in Israeli custody say they are struggling to regain a sense of normality.

Jonathan Brown | 05 Apr 2016 11:48 GMT |

Nour Alyan, 27, who says he was held in stress positions for hours while in Israeli detention, displays the paperwork from his five separate arrests [Edmee Van Rijn/Al Jazeera]
Nour Alyan, 27, who says he was held in stress positions for hours while in Israeli detention, displays the paperwork from his five separate arrests [Edmee Van Rijn/Al Jazeera]

Jalazone refugee camp, occupied West Bank – Abed Abu Sharefa’s hand was on the front door of his home in Jalazone refugee camp as Israeli soldiers worked to break through from the other side and arrest him.

The scar under his left eyebrow, where the metal door blew inwards, is still visible seven years on. Abu Sharefa, 25, told Al Jazeera that his right ear still hurts from the beatings he received at the hands of Israeli interrogators early in the 14-month detention that followed his violent arrest.

Abed Abu Sharefa, 25, says he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after being arrested, detained and tortured by Israeli security forces [Edmee Van Rijn/Al Jazeera]

Abu Sharefa, who has a tattoo of an M16 rifle on his chest, is among dozens of residents of Jalazone refugee camp near Ramallah who say they are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after being arrested, detained and tortured by Israeli security forces.

Residents of Jalazone, which is near the Israeli settlement of Beit El, are often targeted for arrest amid frequent clashes with Israeli soldiers.

Sitting in front of a rusted electric heater, Abu Sharefa takes long draws from a cigarette as he describes being beaten by Israeli interrogators. He reenacts the stress positions he says he was forced into for long hours while detained in the basement of a compound in Jerusalem.

“Even before I was interrogated, I knew detention would be violent; I’d heard about other Jalazone detainees’ experiences,” Abu Sharefa said. “In one way or another, there is always violence in Israeli detention. I’m afraid to be arrested again.”

READ MORE: Report details ‘inhuman’ treatment in Israeli jail

Abu Sharefa, who was detained twice after his first arrest, says he now has difficulty sleeping. He lifts his hands, palms facing out, to show his chewed nails, which he says he bites incessantly and nervously. He says he frequently considers suicide.

“Abed changed completely,” said Tahani, Abu Sharefa’s older sister. “Sometimes when we tried to speak to him, he didn’t respond, like he had experienced some trauma. He’s still nervous and agitated.”

Mohammad Absi, a psychologist with the Ramallah-based Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre (TRC) who has worked in Jalazone refugee camp since 2009, says he has treated around 100 former detainees who experienced torture, abuse or mistreatment while in Israeli detention.

Someone who has experienced trauma is usually helped and supported by their community, but everyone here is psychologically tired.

Nour Alyan, former detainee

Abu Sharefa’s experience was severe, Absi said, but such anxiety upon release is not uncommon. “Individuals who experience psychological torture or severe stressors manifest symptoms like Abed’s,” he said.

According to Addameer, a Palestinian human rights group, there are currently 7,000 Palestinians in Israeli-administered prisons. There have been hundreds of cases of alleged torture over the past 15 years.

Nour Alyan, 27, has been arrested five times and spent a total of eight years in Israeli prison. He recently replaced the front door of his home in the Jalazone camp for a fourth time, after Israeli soldiers broke it down to arrest him in mid-2014. Alyan was most recently released in February.

Alyan said he was held in stress positions for hours, and in solitary confinement for more than two weeks. Many in the camp – including eight of his cousins – who say they were mistreated while in Israeli custody are now struggling with depression and sleeping problems, he said.

“Someone who has experienced trauma is usually helped and supported by their community, but everyone here is psychologically tired,” Alyan told Al Jazeera.

Psychiatrist Mahmud Sehwail, who founded the TRC, said the consequences of this type of torture are “devastating” for communities.

“Torture does not aim to kill an individual; it aims to kill an individual’s spirit. It aims to alter their mentality and character,” Sehwail said. “In reality, though, torture alters not just a victim, but a victim’s family, their community, and their society.”

With limited rehabilitative resources available and dwindling donor funds to organisations like the TRC, some former detainees have turned instead to “smoking drugs, or alcohol”, Alyan said.

READ MORE: Youngest prisoner in Israeli jail is a 12-year-old girl

Israeli human rights groups B’Tselem and HaMoked recently released a reportdetailing abuses against Palestinian detainees at the Shikma facility in southern Israel. Based on affidavits and witness accounts of 116 Palestinians, the report found they were subjected to a variety of abuses, some of which were “tantamount to torture”.

The report found that that such abuse was facilitated by a “broad network of partners” as Israeli justice officials turned “a blind eye”.

Inside Story: Is force-feeding a form of torture?

Israel’s Ministry of Justice maintains that Israeli interrogations “are conducted within the confines of the law and with the aim of pre-emptively foiling and preventing illegal activities aimed at harming state security, its democratic regimes or its institutions”, noting that detention facilities “are under constant and continuous inspection of several internal and external reviewing bodies”.

Since 2001, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, working in concert with Palestinian and Israeli rights groups, has submitted at least 950 complaints of torture to the Israeli Security Agency, at least 95 percent of which were on behalf of Palestinians.

None have resulted in criminal investigations. “The Israeli system protects torture in Shabak interrogations,” the committee’s CEO, Rachel Stroumsa, told Al Jazeera.

“It legalises these interrogations [and] it exempts interrogators from the rule of law … At stake is whether Israel sees itself as a military society, living in fear, acting out of fear, acting in ways it will not be able to countenance later – or whether we see ourselves as a law-abiding society.”

Follow Jonathan Brown on Twitter: @jonathaneebrown

Source: Al Jazeera

Israel’s prisoner release: From one jail to another

Monday, 4 November 2013

The jubilation over Israel’s release last week of 26 Palestinian prisoners was understandable to an extent. After all, the issue is highly emotive for a people with thousands of loved ones languishing in Israeli jails, victims of a woefully unjust judicial system.

However, that must be tempered by the fact that Israel used the prisoner release as cover to announce 5,000 new settler homes on occupied territory, while Palestinian attention was diverted with celebrations. Israeli newspaper Haaretz described this as “an effort to ‘offset’ the release of Palestinian prisoners.” Indeed, 1,500 of these illegal homes were announced immediately after the release.

The cover may have even been used by the Palestinian Authority. While it has denied Israeli claims that it knew of the settlement announcement beforehand, the fact that it is still partaking in negotiations is highly suspect. So is the fact that almost three-quarters of those released (19 out of 26) are reportedly members of the Fatah party, which is led by President Mahmoud Abbas.

Given that Israel has made a habit out of announcing further settlement expansion along with previous prisoner releases, the PA can hardly claim ignorance. The last such occasion was in August, when Israel released 26 prisoners while announcing plans for more than 2,000 new settler homes.

Israel portrays these releases as painful concessions, while the United States praises them as important confidence-building measures. “The decision to release the prisoners is one of the most difficult I’ve had to make,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week. This, of course, is blatant propaganda aimed at legitimizing settlement expansion as some kind of farcical balancing act or compensatory measure.

Releasing a handful of prisoners, all of them jailed before the 1993 Oslo Accord, while announcing thousands of new settler homes is clearly of far greater benefit to Israel than to the Palestinian people. However, it also benefits the PA, if only in the short term, despite the fact that it cannot be oblivious to Israel’s manipulations in this regard.

The PA uses the prisoner issue cynically, trying to boost its dwindling domestic popularity through such small-scale releases, and appeasing its Fatah support base by ensuring that most of those freed come from its ranks. This achieves quick, easy results, but in the grand scheme of things they are mere breadcrumbs. All the while, Israel arrests Palestinians at a far greater rate than those it releases.

Meanwhile, last week a top official with the Fatah-dominated Palestine Liberation Organization said the current Israeli negotiating position is the worst since before the Oslo Accord was signed 20 years ago. Yasser Abed Rabbo added that there had been “no tangible progress” in talks that resumed in July after a hiatus of nearly three years.

“They want… the borders of the state of Palestine [to] be set out according to Israeli security needs that never end, and that will undermine the possibility of establishing a sovereign Palestinian state,” said Abed Rabbo, secretary general of the PLO executive committee.

Fueling suspicions

Since the latest round of negotiations has been ongoing for months, why is the PA continuing to talk? This lends credence to suspicions that it is bowing to unreasonable conditions, and making concessions that it should not be making. Allegations that the secrecy surrounding the talks is precisely so that such concessions can be made without a public backlash are proving less and less outlandish.

After all, Israel has announced several thousand new settler homes since the talks began – the very antithesis of negotiating in good faith. The PA is simply accepting this by continuing to talk while its people’s lands are relentlessly colonized.

It is playing a dangerous and futile game. The PA cannot indefinitely make small gains to cover up much bigger losses. It also cannot forever dupe the Palestinian people into thinking that its unconditional, supine commitment to negotiations – with a party that has consistently shown its disdain for a genuine peace – is bearing fruit.

There are two further releases of 26 prisoners forthcoming. I will not be celebrating, because this will come at a price that the Palestinians cannot afford to pay, and with the shameful knowledge and acquiescence of their leaders.

Given that the occupation and colonization of Palestine is continuing unabated, releasing prisoners is not granting them freedom if they are simply moving to a larger (though ever-shrinking) jail under the same warden. The only thing worse than the denial of freedom is the illusion of it.


Sharif Nashashibi, a regular contributor to Al Arabiya English, The Middle East magazine and the Guardian, is an award-winning journalist and frequent interviewee on Arab affairs. He is co-founder of Arab Media Watch, an independent, non-profit watchdog set up in 2000 to strive for objective coverage of Arab issues in the British media. With an MA in International Journalism from London’s City University, Nashashibi has worked and trained at Dow Jones Newswires, Reuters, the U.N. Development Programme in Palestine, the Middle East Broadcasting Centre, the Middle East Economic Survey in Cyprus, and the Middle East Times, among others. In 2008, he received the International Media Council’s “Breakaway Award,” given to promising new journalists, “for both facilitating and producing consistently balanced reporting on the highly emotive and polarized arena that is the Middle East.” He can be found on Twitter: @sharifnash

Al Jazeera World – Beyond the Walls

This film tells the story of Arab and Palestinian captives who were detained in Israeli jails and how they had to adapt to a new life after their release. Upon release, the prisoners faced a number of difficulties adjusting to a new life of freedom, albeit within an occupied territory. They explain their mixed feelings to the change in society, and in the political landscape, which they experienced upon being released from the day-to-day monotony of prison life. Beyond The Walls contains beautifully-filmed interviews and novel graphics to provide a moving portrait of the interviewees and the emotions and feelings they are describing.

The 45th birthday of the Occupation

Nurit Peled-Elhanan
9 June 2012

I dedicate my words this evening to three hunger-strikers. Mahmoud Sarsak, who has been striking for 83 days. An excellent football player from Gaza, he was arrested three years ago under the Law against Illegal Combatants, which permits him to be imprisoned for life, without a trial and without charge. Akram Rikhawi, who has been imprisoned since 2004 and has been on a hunger-strike since 12 April, in protest against his not being released despite the fragile state of his health. And Samer al-Barq, who renewed his hunger-strike after he had stopped it, with the signing of the agreement, because like many who were released, he got a new administrative detention order. Those prisoners are still alive because “when freedom takes hold of a person’s soul, even the gods cannot touch him.” (Jean-Paul Sartre) Not the god of Zionist power and not the Israeli angel of death. Those prisoners, and thousands more like them, including more than twenty Members of Parliament including the Chairman of the Parliament, Dr. Aziz Dweik, are being held without justice or trial, under humiliating conditions, for years, without visits or hope. They are the freedom fighters of this country who remind us again and again that we all live under occupation and that only their liberation will restore our freedom to us.

Arab citizens of Israel have been living under occupation for nearly sixty-five years now, and the Jewish citizens of Israel are living under a siege that they have imposed on themselves. We are all subjects of a colonialist regime that includes the appropriation of lands and water resources, ethnic cleansing, destruction of the landscape and destruction of the human spirit. A language and culture of which they have no need except to express their being conquered has been imposed on the Arabs whose language and culture has been deliberately and institutionally removed from the lives of the Jews, so that we cannot teach our children and remind their children that “there can also be a love story between an Arab poet and this country.” (Mahmoud Darwish). Thus since its establishment Israel has been perpetuating, in the manner of oppressive regimes, an alienated society and a culture cut off from this place, its residents, its aromas and its tastes. Even the trees and the flowers in our gardens are alienated, foreign, and do not belong. This alienation testifies again and again that on the day of its founding Israel emblazoned on its flag the symbol of apartheid and racism, and eschewed the symbol of freedom and brotherhood that ensures democracy.
This year the apartheid regime of the State of the Jews proved its complete loyalty to racism and the principles of racism. Twenty-five racist bills were submitted and more than ten racist laws have been passed this year, and hardly any Jewish citizens went out onto the streets. More than three hundred people imprisoned without trial launched a hunger strike to the death for two months and more, and hardly any Jewish citizens went onto the streets. Thousands of children are not going to school in East Jerusalem because the Jewish ministry of education does not allocate classes or because the racist Citizenship Law makes them the citizens on no-place and no one is going onto the streets. The separation of families, the expulsion of residents, the confiscation of lands, children abducted from their beds and cruelly interrogated, families evicted from their homes out onto the street, farmers tortured by kippa-wearing bullies under the protection of the army and on the orders of the government – and hardly anyone goes out onto the streets. That is the peak achievement of the Zionist movement.

The State of Israel, which was officially declared as an apartheid state, is distinguished by what has always been the most typical and successful method of racism: the classification of human beings. The Hebrew language that keeps getting uglier under the auspices of the army of Occupation and the bureaucracy of Occupation, is full of classifications: there are people who are a cancer in the heart of the nation and there are people who are a security danger, and there are people who are a plague or a demographic nightmare and there are people who are a health risk, all of them classified and categorized in such a way that even the most ignorant and boorish of Israel’s ministers manage to learn this categorization by heart.

We are all subject to classifications. We are all controlled by the racist laws of this place, and voluntarily placed into ghettos. The Zionist ghetto has learned not to see and not to hear anything beyond the walls that surround it: the real walls made of concrete, and the imaginary walls made of obedience, hate and terrible fear. We do not dare protest against the racist laws, we do not dare to defy racist signs, we do not dare to defend tortured children, we do not dare to break the walls of Gaza, and we do not dare go to Hebron and Deheisheh, to Jenin and Ramallah to ask after the neighbours. That is the great victory of the Occupation. Under the cover of the Occupation, we choose again and again to fold under the rule of criminals of every kind, war criminals, ignoramuses and boors. Thus do we punish ourselves for our helplessness and the withering of our spirit. Year after year we take our children to the gates of the schools, let them learn in an education system that burns books of history and citizenship and authorizes books that incite the murder of children. We abandon them to brainwashing and lies about the War of Liberation we won and Jerusalem Day that signifies our conquests, and the parade for Samaria, which is ours, we let them be taken to Hebron, the City of our Patriarchs, and to the City of David – who is not alive and not well. The teachers in that system do not flinch when they are called upon to poison their pupils’ minds with mendacious stories about our historical rights to the neighbours’ lands, about heroism and victory when it was really ethnic cleansing, inspired and planned by the institutions of racism. The entire purpose of Israeli education is to prepare children to be obedient soldiers of the Israel Occupation Force.

We bow our heads when the most institutionalized terrorist organization in the world takes our children from us and enlists them into its ranks and teaches them how to classify people, how to classify children, how to classify babies, how to classify pain and how to classify the dead. All that, in order to harden their hearts and to dull their senses so that they can abuse, destroy and kill with a clean conscience. We are occupied to such a degree that even when the human being turns into blood we continue to classify without understanding that all of us, the dead and the living, are victims of the corrupting Occupation.
We feel the pain of the parents of one captive Jewish soldier and do not let the pain of the parents of thousands of abducted Palestinian children penetrate through to us, parents who are not allowed to visit their incarcerated children for years because the price demanded of them for the visit is collaboration with the oppressor. We ignore the sufferings of the children of Gaza who are living on the margins of death, victims of malnutrition and lack of medical care, without electricity, without the right to education and livelihood, without a chance and without hope.

As everyone knows today, the 1967 war was not a war of no choice. It was a bolting from the corral by young generals, hot-blooded colts who had sprouted and grown up in the Zionist ghetto and learned to dream of conquest. They trained and trained until they could do so no longer and then took advantage of a moment of stupidity on the part of the neighbours to breach every obstacle, to cast off all restraints and to conquer and expand and destroy joyfully, with intoxicated senses, with a feeling of omnipotent supremacy but without any plan for the future, without any thought for the day after and the millions of human beings who became subjects overnight. In order to justify the devastation and the destruction, the official mythologists were mobilized to affix a scriptural verse to every profane killing and an entire nation was swept into the stream of plunder and exploitation, surpassing themselves every year, because the Jewish genius, from the moment it was enlisted for the task of ruin and devastation, destruction and killing, has not stopped taking out ever more patents.

Today, when the Occupation is beginning to show its effect on the quality of life of the ruling nation, they are rising up and demanding social justice. But social justice too is classified. Social justice is for residents of this ghetto, not of that ghetto. Residents of that ghetto will only spoil our social justice if we include them in our demands, if we give them a forum, if we let their voices be heard in demand of what is theirs. Because that ghetto is there for security reasons and its residents are not victims of injustice and racism but are a security problem, each and every one of them. And when they are killed it is not from racism but from political considerations and we don’t get involved in politics. Therefore that movement for social justice, the failure of which was written on the wall upon its inception, is the most spectacular product of the Israeli education system.

Woe to us that the criminals of the Occupation today are our children, woe to us that we have so succumbed to racism, that we have thus permitted the apartheid criminals to occupy our spirits and to cut us off from everything that is human, from everything that is just, from everything that is peace and quiet, good neighbourliness, love of humanity, mercifulness and compassion, in order to achieve their base objectives. The spirits of the hunger-striking prisoners in their cramped cells are breathing freedom and liberty, and our spirit is oppressed and expiring.

We are living in a ghetto that has no city and no homeland, the language of which is not the local language, a ghetto that has no place to open onto except the bypass roads that pass by everything that is alive.

The time has come when we must join our neighbours all over the Middle East, to sing the praises of the true rebellion, to declare the opening of the borders and the breaking of the barriers, to break down the doors of the prisons, to return the olives and the vineyards to their owners, to return the Children of Palestine to their borders and their land and to try to recover what was lost and trampled under the hobnailed boots of the fat bullies. Only then, if the true children of this country will permit us to learn how to live in it, we too may be able to liberate ourselves from the Occupation and be free from fear, because as Menachem Begin said: “The essence of freedom is freedom from fear, because fear is no less terrible a ruler for its being concealed.”

Among us the fear is overt; among us fear is the motivating force behind every action. Fear of refusal to serve in the Occupation army, fear of supporting a justified boycott of the produce of the settlements, fear of visiting the neighbours. Kindergarten children who arrived here from Ethiopia a few months ago already know whom to hate and whom to fear. They are struck with terror and fear of “the Arabs” they have never seen in person. They are sure that it was the Arabs who burned the Temple, who murdered Jews in Germany, who detained them in Gondar, who are lying in wait for them on all sides. We must liberate our children from the walls of fear and teach them the bases of liberty and responsibility, and explain to them and to ourselves that a person who obeys restrictions that prevent him from going wherever he wants, even if it is Hebron or Jenin or Ramallah – is not a free person but a conquered person. A person who invents laws that restrict the ability of their neighbours to get an education and make a living is a repressed person, a person under siege. That siege can be lifted only by resistance of the type that we see in Bil’in and Ni’lin, Babi Salah, Maasara and through courageous civil disobedience, with a blanket “no” – as our neighbours are doing.

I will conclude with a few lines written by Almog Behar, who wrote the following to Mahmoud Darwish:

To my brother Mahmoud Darwish: who made our history conflicted
And placed me among the high towers
Standing watch over the heavy gates of Gaza
Observing the windows of houses through the sights of rifles?
Who erected between us walls of concrete and iron and the eyes of cameras
And divided us into conquerors and conquered
When we should be brothers?

<i>Translated from Hebrew by George Malent</i>

Source : facebook Nurit’s page

Rudd seeks action on torture allegations involving Palestinian children

by John Lyons

The Australian

17 December 2011

AUSTRALIA will raise concerns with Israel about its juvenile military court system, which has been accused of jailing and torturing Palestinian children as young as 12.

Following a report in The Weekend Australian Magazine three weeks ago, Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has instructed Australian diplomats to visit the juvenile military court.

The diplomats have been told to report to Mr Rudd on the conditions they find at the Ofer military prison, near Jerusalem.

According to a statement from Mr Rudd’s office, he has also instructed Australian officials to initiate a meeting with Israeli authorities to raise concerns about the system under which Palestinian children are tried.

Sixty of Israel’s leading psychologists, academics and child experts have written to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying that “offensive arrests and investigations that ignore the law do not serve to maintain public order and safety”.

The Weekend Australian Magazine reported that allegations included : a boy kept in solitary confinement for 65 days ; other boys in solitary confinement with the lights on 24 hours a day ; a seven-year-old boy in Jerusalem taken for interrogation who says he was hit during questioning ; three children being given electric shocks by hand-held devices to force them to confess ; dog’s food being put on the head and near the genitals of a blindfolded boy and a dog being brought in to eat it while his interrogators laughed.

The magazine reported that, since January, 2007, Defence of Children International has collected and translated into English 385 sworn affidavits from Palestinian children held in Israeli detention who claim to have suffered serious abuse : electric shocks, beatings, threats of rape, being stripped naked, solitary confinement, threats that their families’ work permits will be revoked and “position abuse” – which involves a child being placed in a chair with their feet shackled and hands tied behind their back, sometimes for hours.

A 10-year-old boy testified : “A soldier pointed his rifle at me. The rifle barrel was a few centimetres from my face. I was so terrified that I started to shiver. He made fun of me and said, ’Shivering ? Tell me where the pistol is before I shoot you’.”

A 15-year-old boy testified that he was tied to a metal pipe and beaten by a soldier and that an interrogator placed a device against his body and gave him an electric shock, saying : “If you don’t confess I’ll keep shocking you.” He said the interrogator gave him another electric shock, at which point he could no longer feel his arms or legs, felt pain in his head and confessed.

Gerard Horton, an Australian lawyer dealing with many of the cases in his role at DCI, said one Israeli interrogator working in the settlement, Gush Etzion, “specialises in threatening children with rape” to get confessions.

One woman involved in the YMCA’s rehabilitation program for children who have been under Israeli detention, Fadia Saleh, told The Australian as part of its investigation : “Last week, one boy described to me how dogs were present in the army jeep. In those jeeps, you have chairs on each side and an empty space in the middle – the children are put there, on the floor. Sometimes soldiers step on them.

“Every time the child moved, one of the dogs would bite him. When he arrived at the interrogation centre, his arm was bleeding. It was a short trip but he felt like (it was) a year.”

The Weekend Australian Magazine reported that, while diplomatic and parliamentary missions from many countries had visited the juvenile court, Australian diplomats had appeared to show no obvious interest in the court.

Mr Horton said Australia had been “conspicuously silent” about possible human rights abuses against Palestinian children.

He told the magazine : “It is disappointing that, of all the diplomatic missions in the region, Australia has been conspicuously silent on the issue of the military courts.”

Australia’s Ambassador to Israel, Andrea Faulkner, was told of the treatment of children more than a year ago.

Although informed of the issue, neither Ms Faulkner nor any other Australian representative has visited the court.

The Weekend Australian Magazine was given rare access for the media to the court – it was allowed to visit on three separate occasions over the last year, with the Israeli Defence Forces, as part of this investigation.

This week, an Australian official has begun meetings on the issue in preparation for a visit to the juvenile court by Australian diplomats.

Most of the children before the military court are charged with stone-throwing and sentenced to prison terms ranging from two weeks to 10 months.

The Israeli Defence Forces reported at least 2766 incidents of rock-throwing against them or passing cars this year.

Israeli police say a crash in September in which a man and his infant son were killed may have been caused by a rock hitting their car.

Authorities in Israel did not want to discuss individual cases of children but the country’s international spokesman Yigal Palmor said there were “many things” that needed to improve and that Israel was working with human rights groups and making “slow reform and improvement”.

The treatment of Palestinian children in the West Bank, which is under Israeli military occupation, is in contrast to the treatment of children in Israel.

In Israel, a child cannot be sent to jail until the age of 14, while Palestinian children are being jailed from the age of 12 ; in Israel a child cannot be interrogated without a parent present ; in Israel a child cannot be interrogated at night, while most of the Palestinian children being taken from their homes are detained between midnight and 5am ; in Israel the maximum period of detention without access to a lawyer is 48 hours, while in the West Bank it is 90 days.

In recent times, the military court has been visited by diplomats or parliamentary delegations from the UK, the US, the European Union, the Netherlands, France, Spain, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Cyprus and the United Nations.

Mr Horton says that before most cases are taken up, DCI requires a sworn affidavit.

He told the magazine of the common treatment for many children : “Once bound and blindfolded, the child will be led to a waiting military vehicle and in about one-third of cases will be thrown on the metal floor for transfer to an interrogation centre.

“Sometimes the children are kept on the floor face down with the soldiers putting their boots on the back of their necks, and the children are handcuffed, sometimes with plastic handcuffs, which cut into their wrists. Many children arrive at the interrogation centres bruised and battered, sleep-deprived and scared.”

Mr Horton said the whole point of this treatment was to get the children to confess as quickly as possible.

In one case, even though a child insisted that a confession he had signed was not true, as he had signed it only after pressure, he was convicted on the basis of the confession.

A spokeswoman for Mr Rudd said that, during Israel’s last appearance before the UN Universal Periodic Review Working Group, Australia questioned Israel about reported mistreatment of detainees.

She said the government universally opposes the detention of minors.

“The Australian government’s long held view is that all children, regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender or other differences, should enjoy the same legal and human rights protections,” she said.

17 décembre 2011 – The Australian – available to subscribers only

Families Of Former Detainees Prevented From Visiting Them In Exile

author Saturday November 12, 2011 11:55author by Mais Azza – IMEMC & Agencies

The Israeli authorities are preventing dozens of Palestinian families from travelling to meet their sons, who were released from the Israeli jails last month under the Gilad Shalit prisoner-swap deal, and were sent into exile in Syria, Turkey, Qatar, and the Gaza strip, the Palestine News & Info Agencies (WAFA) reported.

Image by
Image by

The European Network to support the rights of Palestinians prisoners, UFree, issued a statement revealing that the Israeli army prevented Palestinian men, women and children from travelling through the Allenby crossing connecting Palestine with Jordan, whilst trying to visit their recently-released family members.

UFree added that Israel prevented the families of the former detainees of Mahmoud Qawasmeh, Ayman ‘Qfesheh, ‘Ala ‘Qfesheh, Murad Al-Rajoub , Majdi al-Jo’ba, Saed Shallada, Abdullah ‘Arra, Iyad ‘Obeyyat, and ‘Ubadah Bilal, from travelling to visit their released family members.

The Network slammed Israel’s claims for preventing a child identified as Sara Ayman ‘Qfesheh, 14, from travelling to see her father for what Israel labelled as “security concerns”. Sarah has never met her dad, and only knows him from photos.

The child said that she hopes she will finally be allowed to travel with her family in order to visit her father. She also voiced an appeal to human rights groups for help and assistance to enable her to finally meet her father.

Mother still restricted from visiting son after his release from prison

Jillian Kestler-D’Amours

18 October 2011

Rawda Odeh carries a photograph of her son, who is being released from prison — not back home to his family in Jerusalem, but to Gaza, “a big jail,” she said.

SHEIKH JARRAH, East Jerusalem (IPS) – Rawda Odeh had mixed feelings when she heard the news that her son, 33-year-old Loai Mohammad Ahmed Odeh, was going to be released from prison as a result of the recently brokered prisoner exchange agreement between Israel and Hamas.

“I was hoping that I would hug my son when he will be released and I was waiting for this ten years. But when I heard that he would be released to Gaza, I was disappointed. I found out that he would be deported to Gaza forever. He will not return back home,” Odeh, whose son was arrested in 2002 and sentenced to 28 years in prison, said.

Sitting in the East Jerusalem compound of the International Committee of the Red Cross, where she and two others were on hunger strike in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners who remain in Israeli jails, Odeh explained that she doesn’t know if she will be able to travel to Gaza or elsewhere to see her son.

“Up until now, I don’t know when I will see my son. Maybe the United States is closer [for us to meet] than Gaza,” Odeh said. “It was mixed, my feelings, because freedom is the most beautiful thing in the world. I think that my son got his freedom, even if Gaza is a big jail. I was disappointed a little bit but I’m happy that he gets his freedom.”

Mediated by Egyptian security authorities, Hamas and Israel reached a deal on 11 October for the release of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

The Palestinian prisoners will be released in two waves: a first group of 477 were released beginning on Tuesday, and another 550 will be freed in about two months time.

According to a list provided by Israel Prison Service on 15 October, of the 477 Palestinian prisoners to be released first, 41 prisoners will be deported to countries abroad, 146 — including Odeh’s son — will be sent to Gaza permanently, and 18 will be sent to Gaza for three years.

Thousands continue to suffer

“Prisoners are protected persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention and cannot be deported from their homes or their homeland. By emphasizing deportations, Israel is continuing its policy to deport Palestinians,” said Shawan Jabarin, director general of Al-Haq, a Palestinian human rights organization based in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.

“Because of the deportations, the transfer of the prisoners, many people can’t be unified with their family members because of the Israeli restrictions on movement,” he added.

Jabarin said that while he welcomed the release of Gilad Shalit and the 1,027 Palestinian prisoners, thousands more Palestinians remain in Israeli jails and continue to suffer from difficult and inhumane conditions.

“If more than 1,000 Palestinians were released — which is a good thing for their families, their society and for themselves as human beings — the problems still continue [in the prisons]. You have around 5,000 prisoners who will stay in the prison and suffer without fundamental rights,” he said.

Thousands of prisoners from across all major Palestinian political factions have been participating in an open-ended hunger strike, which began on 27 September in protest against deteriorating prison conditions and a lack of basic rights in Israeli jails.

However, on Tuesday, prisoners announced that they had temporarily suspended their hunger strikes for three days after the Israeli Prison Service agreed to end solitary confinement policies.

Hunger strikers’ demands so far unrealized

In June, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he was imposing harsher restrictions on Palestinian prisoners, due to the fact that captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was still being held by Hamas in Gaza. It remains to be seen if these conditions will remain in place following Shalit’s release.

Now into their third week without food, the hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners are not only demanding an end to Israel’s use of solitary confinement, including that of Ahmad Saadat, general secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), but also an end to acts of collective punishment, such as restrictions on access to education, family and lawyer visits, and healthcare.

“The Israeli authorities are dealing with them not as prisoners, but as people without rights, and they are using their situation for political reasons. After this exchange, I hope that things will improve in a good way, even if I have doubts because the Israelis have used this policy for so long; it’s not just in relation to Shalit,” Jabarin said.

In a statement released on 9 October, the Israeli Prison Service described the condition of the Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike as “satisfactory” and said that they are under daily medical supervision and have received visits by members of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Palestinian human rights groups, however, have reported that prisoners have been regularly denied lawyer visits and water, and that the Israeli prison authorities have beaten and attacked prisoners in an effort to stop the hunger strike.

“It’s a dangerous moment. There’s a danger to the prisoners’ lives. I think that if the Israelis continue to ignore their demands and their requests, the situation will maybe deteriorate not just in the prisons, but outside the prisons also. If someone dies, then the situation may deteriorate outside and the Israelis should be aware of that,” Jabarin said.

Back in East Jerusalem, Rawda Odeh said that despite the release of her son and the more than 1,000 other Palestinian prisoners, continuing to apply pressure on the Israeli authorities to improve prison conditions and to respect international law is crucial.

“I’m not on hunger strike for only my son; all the prisoners are my sons,” Odeh said.

“All the world knows the name of Shalit but they don’t know any names of our prisoners who are in jail, so I’m on hunger strike. I have two cancers, one in my breast and one in my liver. I have diabetes. I have many health problems but I decided to be with the prisoners. I’m supporting them because it’s my duty to be with them. We are in the same struggle and we’ll be together always.”

All rights reserved, IPS – Inter Press Service (2011). Total or partial publication, retransmission or sale forbidden.


“I was 1-day-old when my father was jailed”

Shahd Abusalama

18 October 2011

Emotional scenes as Palestinian prisoners reunited with their loved ones today.

A very confusing feeling passes through me after hearing about the exchange of 1,027 Palestinian detainees for the only Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, who was held captive by the Palestinian resistance fighters. I don’t know whether to feel happy or sad.

Gazing at the faces of the prisoners’ families in the solidarity tent in Gaza City, I see a look that I have never seen before: eyes glittering with hope. These people have attended every event in solidarity with our detainees, have never given up hope that their freedom is inevitable someday, and have stayed strong during their loved ones’ absence inside Israeli cells. Thinking about those women whose relatives are most likely to be released and seeing their big smiles makes me happy. But at the same time, thinking about the other 5,000 detainees who will steadfastly go on with their resistance in the prisons makes my heart break for them.

Hearts aching for those still in jail

When I arrived at the tent on 12 October, the wife of the prisoner Nafez Herz, who was sentenced to life-long imprisonment and has been jailed for 26 years, shook hands with me and said very excitedly that she had heard that her husband would be freed. Then she said, “But you can’t imagine how much my heart aches for those families whose prisoner will not be released in this exchange deal. All prisoners’ families have become like one big family. We meet weekly, if not daily in the Red Cross, we share our torments, and we understand each other’s suffering.” I grabbed her hands and pressed them while saying, “We will never forget them, and God willing, they will gain their freedom soon.”

While I was writing this article among the crowd of people at the Red Cross building, I suddenly heard people chanting and clapping and could see a woman jumping with joy. While on the phone, she said loudly, “My husband is going to be free!” Her husband is Abu Thaer Ghneem, who received a life sentence and spent 22 years in prison. As I watched people celebrating and singing for the freedom of the Palestinian detainees, I met his only son, Thaer. He was hugging his mother tight while giving prayers to God showing their thankfulness. I touched his shoulder, attempting to get his attention. “Congratulations! How do you feel?” I asked him. “I was only one day old when my father was arrested, and now I am 22-years-old. I’ve always known that I had a father in prison, but never had him around. Now my father is finally going to be set free and fill his place, which has been empty over the course of 22 years of my life.”

His answer was very touching and left me shocked and admiring. While he was talking to me, I sensed how he couldn’t find words to describe his happiness at his father’s freedom.

The celebration continues for an hour. Then I return to my former confusion, feeling drowned in a stream of thoughts. The families of the 1,027 detainees will celebrate the freedom of their relatives, but what about the fate of the rest of the prisoners?

Don’t forget the hunger strike

I have heard lots of information since last night concerning the names of the soon-to-be-released prisoners, but it was hard to find two sources sharing the same news, especially about Ahmad Saadat and Marwan Barghouti and whether they are involved in the exchange deal. I’ve always felt spiritually connected to them, especially Saadat, as he is my father’s friend. I can’t handle thinking that he may not be involved in this exchange deal. He has had enough merciless torment inside Israeli solitary confinement for over two and a half years.

Let’s not forget those who are still inside the Israeli occupation’s prisons and who have been on hunger strike, as this hunger strike wasn’t held for an exchange deal, but for the Israeli Prison Service to meet the prisoners’ demands. The people who joined the hunger strike in Gaza City has included those with loved ones in prison. We have to speak out loudly and tell the world that Israel must address our living martyrs’ demands. We will never stop singing for the freedom of Palestinian detainees until the Israeli prisons are emptied.

Shahd Abusalama is an artist, blogger and English literature student from the Gaza Strip. Her blog is called Palestine from My Eyes.

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