by Ayman Ahmed (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 50, No. 3, Ramadan, 1442)
Palestinians living on the West Bank, in East Jerusalem or in the tiny Gaza Strip are all prisoners. They face military checkpoints, incessant violence by the illegal Zionist squatters (aka settlers), home demolitions, as well as night raids on their homes by the occupation forces. Israel launched two strikes—one on April 17and second on April 24—on the besieged Gaza Strip.
The Israeli occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza are like vast prisons. But even these prisons do not satisfy the Zionist occupiers’ lust for oppression and the desire to inflict harm. Thousands of Palestinians are held without charge or trial in Israeli prisons. Some have languished for decades.
According to the Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer, there are nearly 5,500 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, including 230 children and 54 women. Of that number, 481 prisoners are held without trial – under the guise of an unlawful practice known as ‘administrative detention’.
Consider just one example, that of two Palestinian brothers, Abdul Jawad, 57, and Mohammed Shamasneh, 51. They entered the 29th consecutive year of detention in Israeli prisons, according to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club report of April 18. The statement further said the prisoners were from the East Jerusalem town of Qatana, adding that they were arrested before the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993. They were repeatedly sentenced to life imprisonment.
Their mother has not been allowed to visit them for “five years due to her health”, adding that Israeli occupiers were continuing “to ban the three children of Abdul-Jawad from visiting him for security reasons.” The younger brother, Mohammed has three daughters. Both are currently being held in the Nafha detention centre.
Since the beginning of 2021, Israeli occupation forces have arrested nearly 1,400 more Palestinians. Given the appalling conditions in Israeli jails, lack of medical facilities as well as proper food, at least 550 inmates suffer from various diseases and require close monitoring and healthcare. There are 10 inmates suffering from cancer, including Fouad Al-Shobaki, 82, the oldest of the prisoners.
The pandemic has further endangered the lives of Palestinian prisoners. There are at least 368 jailed Palestinians infected with the coronavirus. While the Zionist regime continues to deny the vaccine to a large number of Palestinians on the West Bank, in East Jerusalem and by blockading the Gaza Strip, the plight of Palestinian prisoners is worse, given the cramp unhygienic conditions.
Some Palestinians have spent 40 years in captivity with 543 sentenced to several life sentences. On April 5, the Zionist regime released 58-year-old Rushdi Abu Mokh after serving 35 years in prison, a report in the Middle East Monitor said, quoting Anadolu news agency. Detained in 1986 along with three colleagues, they were charged with joining a resistance cell belonging to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). ِAbu Mokh is from the predominantly Arab city of Baqa al-Gharbiyye inside Israel.
The cell was blamed for the abduction of an Israeli soldier and attempting to relocate him outside the Palestinian territories to use him as a bargaining chip in any prisoner swap with Israel. Abu Mokh was handed a life sentence by an Israeli court. Later it was reduced to 35 years.
The plight of child prisoners and women is even worse. Abiding by no laws, international or humanitarian, the Zionist regime continues to mistreat them. The most common practice of the occupation forces is to swarm a young child, slam him to the ground and tie his hands tightly with a plastic band, often cutting into his flesh. He is then dragged, blindfolded and thrown into a military vehicle.
Children are subjected to harsh conditions enduring torture and psychological abuse inside Israel’s notorious prisons. They are interrogated without the presence of their parents or lawyers. Transporting prisoners—any prisoner—outside the occupied territories is illegal under international law. Zionist Israel, however, has never been constrained by law.
Mohammed Munir Moqbel, 16, from Al-Oroub refugee camp in Hebron, was brutally assaulted with the butt of a rifle at the time of his arrest. It resulted in fracturing his jaw and face and general bruises on his body. Israeli occupation forces assault and arrest Palestinian children for merely refusing to leave a particular area when ordered to do so, or for waving a Palestinian flag.
According to the Palestine Center for Prison Studies, Israeli prison administration continues to deliberately deprive children of the necessities of life, and commit arbitrary intrusive practices against them such as searches of their rooms and sections.
For children under the age of 18 in the occupied Palestinian territories (1967), Israel applies the Military Order (132) of 24/09/1967. It defines the Palestinian child as a person under the age of 16, in violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, whereby a child is every person under the age of 18. Israel is a state party to the convention.
Article (79.2) of the First Additional Protocol of the Geneva Conventions 1977 states that cases of detained mothers should be considered a priority. Zionist Israel, however, completely disregards this additional protocol. For the Zionist occupiers, law and international conventions are irrelevant. Their aim is to inflict the maximum amount of harm on Palestinians.
Despite such a horrific record, Western politicians never miss an opportunity to parrot the line that they share many common values with Israel. The latest example of this was the sunny way Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who heaped wholesome praise on the pariah regime and state of Israel on April 15.