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Israeli Forces Kill 2 Palestinian Civilians and Armed Group Member and Wound 12 Civilians in Jenin Refugee Camp

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights | March 23, 2014

In excessive use of force, on Saturday, 22 March 2014, Israeli forces killed, 2 Palestinian civilians and a member of a Palestinian armed group and wounded 12 civilians and a member of the Palestinian National Security Forces in Jenin refugee camp, west of the northern West Bank town of Jenin. Israeli forces claimed via the Israeli media that they killed 3 Palestinians during armed clashes in the aforementioned refugee camp. However, investigations conducted by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) investigations refute the Israeli claim and confirm that the two civilians were killed as Israeli forces opened fire heavily at dozens of civilians who were trying to pull and carry the militant’s body to the centre of the camp.

According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 02:00 on the Saturday, 22 March 2014, an Israeli special military force from “Alimam” Unit in the Israeli military, which is described as “an anti-terrorism unit” infiltrated into the south of Jenin refugee camp, west of Jenin. The Israeli force surrounded a two-story house belonging to the family of ‘Azmi Mohammed Mahmoud al-Hasaniyah (67) in Tal’et al-Ghabes area. Israeli forces then sent large military back-ups, which were deployed throughout the camp while Israeli drones were hovering overhead. Israeli snipers ascended roofs of nearby houses after they received information that Hamzah Jamal ‘Abdel Salam Abu al-Heijah (22), the local leader of the Izziddin al-Qassam brigades (the armed wing of Hamas), was in the house.

After the military back-ups had arrived, Israeli forces blew up the main door of the houses and opened fire. They then yelled at residents of the house to get out. When the residents were about to come out and Mohammed (23), the son of the house’s owner who is member of the Palestinian National Security Forces, opened the external door, he was shot in the left shoulder. Amidst the screams of his family, the shooting stopped and the residents began to get out one by one while Abu al-Heijah stayed in a room on the second floor. Israeli forces arrested Mohammed and his brother, Majd (18), and took the rest of the family members to a nearby house. They then entered a tracker dog into the house, but Hamzah killed it and this made the Israeli forces certain that he is in the house. As a result, Israeli forces showered the house with live bullets and shells fired by machine guns and then used shoulder-fired missiles. As a result, the house was partially destroyed. Meanwhile, armed clashes broke out between Palestinian militants, who were stationed in the areas of al-Sahah and Abu Thahir Mountain areas, and Hamzah from the house from one side and the Israeli forces, which were surrounding the house, from the other side. Hamzah took advantage of this and jumped from one of the western windows of the house. As soon as he stepped a few meters, snipers opened fired and immediately killed him. They left him for two hours and he bled to death in the alley. Young men then tried to pull his body, and Israeli forces opened fire at them. However, they managed to pull it. When they were passing by al-Sahah area, Israeli forces opened fire killing two of them: Yazan Mahmoud Basem Taha “Jabarin” (20) who was hit by a bullet to the chest; and Mahmoud ‘Omer Saleh Abu Zeinah (24), who also was hit by a bullet to the chest. When the news of the death of 3 persons spread out, the camp residents started coming out of their houses. Immediately, the Israeli snipers opened fire at these civilians wounding 11 of them, including a 65-year-old woman. Thus, the number of wounded persons mounted to 12 civilians. It should be mentioned that Hamzah Abu al-Heijah is the son of Jamal Abu al-Heijah, who is serving a sentence of 9 life imprisonments in the Israeli jails. Hamzah had been subject to several extra-judicial execution attempts, the last of which was on 18 December 2013 when an Israeli special unit targeted him. However, he managed to escape and Nafe’a Jamil Nafe’a al-Sa’adi was killed.

PCHR strongly condemns this crime, which further proves the use of excessive force by Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians in disregard for their lives. PCHR calls upon the international community to take immediate and effective action to stop Israeli crimes and reiterates its call for the High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligations under Article 1; i.e., to respect and to ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances, and their obligation under Article 146 to prosecute persons alleged to commit grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention. These grave breaches constitute war crimes under Article 147 of the same Convention and Protocol (I) Additional to the Geneva Conventions.

March 24, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

G4s annual meeting stormed by human rights activists

Press TV – June 7, 2013

Pro-Palestine campaigners have staged a protest at the annual meeting of shareholders of disgraced security firm G4S in London, calling for an end to the firm’s Israeli prison contracts.

G4S meeting on June 6 was twice disrupted by protesters, who voiced their anger against the private company’s provision of expertise and security systems to Israeli prisons, and its complicity in the detention and torture of Palestinian children.

The demonstration was organized by the Innovative Minds (inminds) and Islamic Human Right Commission (IHRC) campaign groups.

“G4S cannot expect to do business as usual whilst it equips Israeli prisons which hold Palestinians in breach of the Geneva Convention,” said Sarah Colborne, director of Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

G4S faces criticism for its cooperation with the Israeli regime, including providing equipment and services to Israeli checkpoints, illegal settlements, the apartheid wall and jails where Palestinian political prisoners are subjected to mistreatment and torture.

June 7, 2013 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Abla Saadat: A Palestinian Stateswoman marked by “Terrorism”

By Christof Lehmann | No Spin News | September 24, 2012

Abla Sa’adat, the Chairwoman of the Palestinian Women Organizations and wife of the Secretary General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) visited Denmark. I met Abla Sa’adat at a meeting where she told a group of mostly young Danes about Palestine. Had one expected an Abla Sa’adat who conforms with the dehumanizing stereotyping of Palestinians by Israeli and western politicians and main stream media, one would have been surprised by the depth and complexity of Abla Sa ‘adat, her perception of the Palestinian problems and possible solutions.

Behind the veil of the “terrorist” stereotype one discovers an Abla Sa’adat who is a true stateswoman, humanist, human rights advocate, an advocate for international law, justice and peace, the wife of a long term prisoner of war and political prisoner, as well as a mother and grandmother who puts the systematic dehumanization and stereotyping of Palestinians to shame.

In spite of the Hamas – Israeli negotiated prisoner exchange earlier this year, Abla Sa’adat states, more than 5.000 Palestinians remain in prison under administrative detention. She is active in organizations which advocate Palestinian prisoners rights. It is not for personal reasons, so she states, that she is using her husband, PFLP Secretary General Ahmad Sa’adat as an example for how Israel systematically terrorizes politically active Palestinians and their families, but because due to her own experience she knows his case best and because his case is representative of those of thousands of other prisoners and their families.

On the other hand, who would blame Abla Sa’adat for wanting to advocate for her illegally detained husband, the father of her children and grandfather to her grandchildren. At a recent appearance of Ahmad Sa’adat in an Israeli court he was denied physical contact with Abla and his newborn granddaughter Mayar. The destruction of politically active Palestinian families family ties and the destruction of Palestinians’ family systems is systemic and systematic.

After the PLO signed the Oslo Accords and the Palestinian Authority (PA) was established, the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories within the 1967 borders has not improved and the Israeli governments have systematically avoided adhering to the provisions of the Oslo Accords. Contrary to improvements, the reality of the matter is that: Israel has confiscated more land, increased its infringements on Palestinians’ water rights, built more settlements and settler only roads and railways, built the so called “security wall” which isolates Palestinian West Bank villages in micro enclaves, continued a policy that devastates Palestine’s economy; Israel continues to illegally arrest and detain Palestinians under illegal forms of imprisonment, the use of torture is endemic, the use of disproportionate military force is well documented, and these items only touch the surface of the daily violations of the Oslo Accords. According to the Oslo Accords Palestinian prisoners should have been released from prison. Israel did not adhere to this provision either.

What Palestinians gained by signing the Oslo Accords can be described with a few words. The right to establish a Palestinian Authority, which is utterly dependent on the goodwill of Israel. The political factions have gained the privilege to compete with each other for the Presidency over the self-administrated Zionist genocide on themselves while splitting the PLO, rendering it in a state of internal conflict rather than fighting for the liberation of Palestine. In other words, the PLO was entrapped in the glory of Presidency over its own destruction and the destruction of Palestine.

It is within this context one has to understand the arrest and detainment of Ahmad Sa’adat. Israel demanded that the Palestinian Authority arrest him for “terrorism,” and the Fatah led PA made sure that he was arrested and detained. The tragic irony of the situation is that the Oslo Accords resulted in the Palestinian Authority arresting and detaining the Secretary General of the PFLP Ahmad Sa’adat on behalf of Israel, and that Israeli pressure and US and British complicity since have resulted in Sa’adat being imprisoned in an Israeli prison and not, as initially, in a Palestinian prison with US and UK military guards. In fact each and every detail of Ahmed Sa’adat’s imprisonment is in violation of the Geneva Conventions, the Conventions against the use of Torture and other bodies of international law. Ahmed Sa’adat was sentenced to thirty years in prison for being the Secretary General of the PFLP, which is designated as a “terrorist organization” by the USA, Israel and the E.U. He has spent years on end in isolation.

Prior to his arrest Ahmed Sa’adat was elected to the Palestinian parliament. Abla Sa’adat explained that 22 members of parliament are currently imprisoned in Israeli prisons, many of them in isolation. The occupation is in fact preventing the functioning of Palestine’s democratic institutions.

Isolated prisoners are locked up for 23 hours a day. For one hour they can leave their cells and spend their time in an indoor yard, in shackles and hand-cuffs, without the possibility to exercise. There is absolutely no contact to other prisoners. Ahmed Sa’adat was isolated for three years before he was granted ” the privilege” to have his first visitor. Other families, Abla Sa’adat said, have been waiting ten years before they could see their imprisoned husband or father for the first time. Many can not even visit their relatives even if they are granted permission because road blocks and bureaucracy make it impossible to get to the prison and back.

Both Amnesty International, the Red Cross and lawyers complained that this form for imprisonment constitutes torture as well as a breach of the Geneva Conventions, but to no avail. Israel disregards these organizations and laws as well as it has disregarded almost any of the UN Resolutions pertaining Israel, Palestine or the Situation in the Middle East. Ironically, Israel is claiming the legitimacy of the state of Israel from the very organization whose resolutions it systematically disregards.

The impact of isolation and sensory deprivation on prisoners is well documented in numerous and comprehensive scientific studies. Even short term isolation for one to two weeks has a significant impact on a prisoners ability to concentrate, on memory, and general psychological well-being. Longer term and long term isolation for months to years on end have a devastating effect on the human being. Already after a few weeks most isolated prisoners experience several of the following symptoms.

  • Loss of the ability to concentrate

  • Loss of the ability to think coherent thoughts.

  • Loss of short and long-term memory.

  • Visual, auditory and tactile hallucinations, such as the sensation that the entire cell is driving like a train carriage or rotating.

  • Severe mood disorders.

  • Severe dissociative symptoms or dissociative disorders.

  • Suicidal ideas and increased prevalence of suicide attempts and death due to suicide compared to non-isolated prisoner populations.

  • Symptoms of learned helplessness.

  • Inability to participate as an active part of a legal defense.

  • And a cohort of other, severe symptoms.

It is for very good, science-based reasons that long term isolation is internationally recognized as torture. Israel is systematically using isolation to psychologically and physically destroy politically active Palestinian prisoners.

While the systematic and wide spread use of long-term isolation has a devastating effect on the prisoners themselves has a devastating effect on the isolated prisoners family systems as well. Spouses who have not seen one another for years on end risk growing strangers to one another. Children who are infants when a parent is imprisoned often see their father or mother for the first time when they are teens. It is impossible to remedy the lack of early attachment and the lack of a possibility to to know ones parents or ones children intimately or at least to such a degree as a normal imprisonment allows, which is devastating enough.

One of the long term prisoners, Nabeel Barghouti was imprisoned for 30 years. His wife who was pregnant when he was imprisoned gave birth to a son, Fahdi. At the age of 16 his son decided that the only way to see his father was to become a prisoner. After his arrest and imprisonment he fought for the right to be imprisoned under conditions that made it possible for him to see his father. Incidents like these are not extraordinary, although they are extraordinarily tragic.

At a visit, Ahmad Sa’adat would have been unable to recognize his own son on a photograph had it not been for the fact that the boy held a trumpet and that he knew that his son is playing the trumpet. Abla Sa’adat’s worst concern about her husband, she said, is not that he is breaking down mentally. Naturally the long term isolation has set its marks but he is determined in his struggle for liberation. What concerns her most is that she can see, that her husband is suffering the physical effects on the body which long term prisoners in Israel are suffering.

It took a months long hunger strike of Palestinian prisoners to finally end all long-term isolation of Palestinian prisoners in Israel’s prison industry; and it is a prison industry, in the literal sense of the word. E.U. Subsidies per prisoner exceed Israel’s costs per prisoner per day, and there are other methods such as fines which make it a lucrative business for Israel to hold as many prisoners as possible.

Years ago, Abla Sa’adat recalled, she was arrested while her husband already was imprisoned. Who would take care of the children? Israel is systematically using illegal forms of arrest and imprisonment to terrorize and destroy politically active families, and those who help targeted families in coping risk being targeted too.

The Stateswoman in Abla Sa’adat came out when she raised concerns about the targeting and imprisonment of Palestinian children. Stateswoman in the true sense of the word, as a politician, a revolutionary, as well as a mother for her own children, and a politician who has a motherly love for the plight of the children of Palestine and families with children.

Children are regularly arrested, beaten, shot at and killed for protesting the occupation. Many of them are provoked into conflicts with the occupation forces. Tanks rattling near school buildings for hours, stressing the children and making it impossible for them to follow a normal schedule are just one of hundreds of ways to provoke the throwing of a stone. The response can be everything from being beaten, arrested and imprisoned, injured or killed.

Abla Sa’adat draws attention to the fact that the international conventions and laws which regulate the rights of imprisoned children are also systematically circumvented or ignored by Israel. Besides that the child prisoners have become a lucrative form of income for Israel. The fines are high and children are often not released before the fine is paid.

Another way of destroying Palestinian family systems is the placement of children who are sentenced to house arrest with family members so far away from their parents that road blocks and daily chicane makes it impossible for the parents to maintain contact with the children.

Abla Sa’adat is drawing attention to the fact that the prevalence of psychological disorders among Palestinian children is extremely high. In fact, the prevalence of psychological disorders is extremely high in the general Palestinian population, regardless which age group one studies. Many of these psychological problems are caused by the occupation, and the prevalence of trauma-related problems is staggering.

A 1996 Study by Save the Child documented that most children internalize the conflict with the occupation. The violent problem-solving models are then transferred into the family system and into school teacher relations, leading to immense pedagogical problems. The violent problem solving models are also transferred to child on child relations. Children growing up under such conditions are, as adults, prone to use violent problem solving models. The effect is not only felt in the resistance against the occupation. In fact, the effect is more likely to manifest in spousal abuse, child abuse, proneness to the use of violence to settle family disputes, political disputes, financial disputes, and so forth. This internalization during childhood has an all pervasive and devastating effect on all levels, individual, family, community level, and in the halls of government.

The Oslo Accords, says Abla Sa’adat, have not brought any improvements for Palestinians and the debate among Palestinian factions to abandon the Oslo Accords and all subsequent agreements is finally being seriously debated among the factions.

Abla Sa’adat made a point of clarifying that she has nothing against Jews in Palestine or anywhere else. Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Secular people have been living in Palestine for centuries. The often used propaganda, that Palestinians want to drive the Jews back into the sea, she states, has nothing to do with reality. Her cause and the cause of the Palestinian liberation is not directed against Jews but against Zionism and Zionists. There is a difference, she states, between Jewish families who have been living in Palestine for centuries, and those who came and still are coming to Palestine to steal Palestinian land and evict or murder Palestinians.

A two State solution, says Abla Sa’adat, is the very minimum and it would be difficult to implement. She asks, if a Palestinian state should be established within the borders of 1967, what about those families who have been refugees since 1948? The most realistic solution would be, she said, to establish one secular state in all of Palestine. One secular, democratic state for Jews, Christians, Muslims and Secularists within all of the Palestinian territories. The greatest obstacle to the establishment of such a state is, that Zionists insist on a Jewish State, where Muslims, Christians and Secularists alike have no place, and if at all, then as second class citizens.

With a Middle East on fire, with a Libya that has fallen into the hands of Islamic extremism, and with Syria under attack from western sponsored extremists and Al Qaeda associated organizations from throughout the world, with Qatar, Jordan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E., the USA, NATO member states and Israel sponsoring and backing the extremists’ subversion of Syria, Abla Sa’adat, who is widely decried as “terrorist,” sounds like one of the most reasonable Middle Eastern voices of moderation I have heard since the onset of the so-called Arab Spring. If Abla Sa’adat is marked by terrorism, it is because a lifetime of enduring the terror of the Zionist occupation is as imprinted in her as it is in every Palestinian.

* Dr. Christof Lehmann, a life time peace activist, psychologist, and advisor in behavior, finance, economics and politics.

September 25, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

UK government authorized ‘war crimes’ in Iraq

Press TV – June 24, 2012

New explosive revelations show British soldiers tortured Iraqi civilians who were hooded, stripped-naked and assaulted in secret black jails under direct authority of the Ministry of Defense and in blatant violation of Geneva Conventions on rights of victims of war.

The shocking abuse, sanctioned by the senior Ministry of Defense (MoD) lawyers, was carried out in a network of secret prisons in Iraq, including at a deserted phosphate mine site, after the US-led invasion of the country in 2003, in blatant breaches of international and human rights law.

The torture led to the death of at least one civilian who was beaten to death aboard an RAF helicopter while 63 others remain missing after being flown to a “black site” prison at an oil pipeline pumping station, The Daily Mail reported.

The chief British Army lawyer in Iraq during the 2003 invasion, Lieutenant Colonel Nicholas Mercer, who should have been informed of the tortures, but was kept “totally in the dark” said the incidents in the secret prisons amount to “war crimes.”

“The allegations are blatant violations of the Geneva Conventions and UN Convention Against Torture. If indeed prisoners were rendered beyond Iraq’s borders, then this is potentially one of the most serious war crimes under the Rome Statute,” Mercer said.

Mercer added that the “prisoner facility operated entirely outside the normal chain of command” and warned the government can deny all charges related to the facility if it manages to get its controversial secret justice plans into the law.

The government is now pushing the Justice and Security Bill through the Commons that allows confidential documents offered by the security services in the courts in defense of itself to be withheld from other parties.

The coincidence of the revelations by a number of victims of the abuse in the secret prisons who are taking legal action with the government’s secret justice plans has raised fears that officials can bury their flagrant violations of human rights and the international law forever.

“I find it remarkable that I knew nothing about it at the time. What is clear now is that, if the Justice and Security Bill does become law, the truth may never come out,” Mercer said.

“These are alleged war crimes, but what Britain did may never be disclosed. Indeed, the Bill may be specifically designed to prevent such allegations ever coming to light,” he added.

June 24, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Comments Off on UK government authorized ‘war crimes’ in Iraq

Guantanamo’s Goon Squads Still Torturing Under Obama

By Sherwood Ross | Aletho News | June 17, 2012

Despite President Obama’s pledge to end torture, the brutalization of Muslim prisoners at Guantanamo prison continues under his regime.

Guantanamo is where a thug squad called the Immediate Reaction Force (IRF) tortures inmates while pointing their required video cameras at the floor to hide their beatings.

In illegal and cowardly assaults on tied-up inmates that violate the Geneva Conventions, five or more Pentagon IRF MP’s will spray Mace in a prisoner’s face and then gang-beat him. The MP’s are known to break bones, gouge eyes, squeeze testicles, inject disease, force the prisoner’s head into a toilet or bang it on a concrete floor, smear the prisoner with feces, douse him with noxious chemicals, urinate on him and even sodomize him. A prisoner may also be virtually buried alive in total darkness underground for as long as three weeks, during which he is denied adequate food and sleep. Prisoners have also been hog-tied in painful positions for hours on end. In short, Guantanamo’s prisoners have suffered tortures far worse than France’s notorious Devil’s Island.

The above facts about Guantanamo are according to distinguished investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill in an article published for “World View News Service.” He quotes Michael Ratner, president of the Center For Constitutional Rights (CCR) as saying: “They (the IRF) are the Black Shirts of Guantanamo. IRFs can’t be separated from torture. They are part of the brutalization of humans treated as less than human.” Adds Scott Horton, a leading expert on the U.S. military and constitutional law, “They (the IRF) were trained to brutally punish prisoners in a brief period of time, and ridiculous pretexts were taken to justify” the beatings. (One prisoner said he was beaten for feeding crumbs to some lizards.)

“I have seen detainees suffer serious injuries as a result of being IRF’ed,” said David Hicks, an Australian citizen held at Guantanamo. “I have seen detainees IRF’ed while they were praying or by refusing medication.”

In his book, “An Innocent Man in Guantanamo,” (Palgrave/macmillan), Murat Kurnaz, held there for five years even though it was clear to U.S. authorities he was innocent, writes, “Blows from the IRF team were the basic form of punishment at Camp X-Ray… beating us and then chaining our hands and feet, connecting those chains with a third one. You couldn’t move your arms, they were pressed to your body. Then they’d leave you sitting there like that and take away your blanket and the thin mattress. It could take days before they’d unshackle you… ” Perhaps the ultimate in sadism, Kurnaz recalls, “fathers had to watch as their sons were beaten, and vice versa.”

Kurnaz writes that when General Geoffrey Miller took over Guantanamo in 2003 the plight of the prisoners “dramatically worsened.” “The interrogations got more brutal, more frequent, and longer. The first order General Miller issued was to commence Operation Sandman, which meant we were moved to new cells every one or two hours. The general’s goal was to completely deprive us of sleep, and he achieved it.” Kurnaz said that if he dozed off an IRF guard would punch him in the face.

The CCR has called upon the Obama regime to immediately end the use of IRF teams at Guantanamo. One Guantanamo defense lawyer said that after Obama took office his clients reported “a ramping up in abuse.” Horton says, “detainees should be entitled to compensation for injuries they suffered,” reports Scahill.

“As Commander in Chief of United States Armed Forces under the terms of the United States Constitution, President Obama has an absolute obligation to terminate torture and war crimes committed by the IRFs on Gitmo,” says Francis Boyle, professor of international law at the University of Illinois, Champaign. “Failure to do so renders him liable for these international crimes under international criminal law, U.S. domestic criminal law, and U.S. Army Field Manual 27-10 on the Law of Land Warfare under the doctrine of Command Responsibility. The best way to do this would be to terminate the IRFs on Gitmo.” Boyle is author of “Tackling America’s Toughest Questions” (Clarity).

Scahill says that while Barack Obama, almost immediately upon taking office, issued an executive order saying he was going to close down Guantanamo within a year and that he was going to respect the Geneva Convention while his administration reviewed Guantanamo, the (IRF) force under Obama has continued to torture prisoners.

~

Sherwood Ross formerly worked as a reporter and columnist for major dailies and wire services. He currently heads a Miami, Florida-based public relations firm for worthy causes. Reach him at sherwoodross10@gmail.com.

June 17, 2012 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , , , , | 9 Comments

A Seminar on Palestine’s Prisoners: A Lament on Injustice

By Felicity Arbuthnot | Dissident Voice | May 26th, 2012

Israel is a parliamentary democracy represented by a very large number of parties, with universal suffrage for all citizens, regardless of race, religion or sex …

— CIA World Fact Book, 2011

This week a sobering and highly informative closed door seminar was held on the plight of Palestinian Prisoners in the elegant surroundings of London’s Westminster Central Hall, a stone’s throw away from the Houses of Parliament and the 11th century Westminster Abbey, the all affirmation of stability and continuity — in starkest contrast to testimony at the proceedings of the meeting.

The seminar, hosted by Middle East Monitor, had been planned and organized at the height of the Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike. Although most prisoners are reported to have ended their desperation-driven fasts following a deal with the Israeli authorities, the issues surrounding their shocking treatment and imprisonment are unchanged.

Sabah al Mukhtar, President of the Arab Lawyers Association, who chaired the gathering, opened by reminding that, “A basic right of a people under occupation is to resist.”

Further, that the Fourth Geneva Convention is specific as to the treatment of prisoners, with absolute outlawing of abuse and stipulation of legal conditions which must include humane treatment, being regarded as innocent until proven guilty and speedy access to legal representation — a far cry from the conditions for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

Lord Alf Dubs, who serves on the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights, talked of a visit to the West Bank last year. Unable to visit a prison, he did attend an Israeli Military Court and was shocked at what he witnessed.

Remarking on security so tight that not even business cards were allowed in, he was struck by the age of the prisoners. Many were children, including one of fourteen. A fifteen year old was in tears in the dock, a sight Lord Dubs found profoundly disturbing.

The majority of children, he learned, were picked up in the early hours of the morning and incarcerated with no access by parents, no lawyer until they were in the dock, thus no explanation of procedures, discussion of case and, above all, semblance of reassurance. Handcuffs were taken off as they came through the door of the Court, but all were in shackles in the dock. Most defendants were: “just throwing stones.” The Court had no cctv; thus, no record of any miscarriage of justice.

Parents are often denied access to detained children for at least two months. Article 77 of the Geneva Convention states that: “Children shall be the object of special respect (and provided) with the care and aid they require.” The reality, concluded His Lordship, was “a stain” on the Israeli establishment.

Chairman of the UK-based charity, Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights, Tareq Shrourou, stated that at every stage childrens’ rights are abused “from detention to incarceration, to release.” Sixteen and seventeen year olds are still treated as adults in detention. In the West Bank it is not the police, but the army who conduct arrests, whether of children or adults.

Children, as are adults, are blindfolded, in addition to being handcuffed and shackled. Blindfolding is also in defiance of the Geneva Convention.

“That the military might of Israel is threatened by children throwing stones is laughable”, commented al Mukhtar, adding that the whole concept of Military Children’s Courts were legally “outlandish.”

“In the past eleven years alone, around seven thousand five hundred children, some as young as twelve years, are estimated to have been detained, interrogated, and imprisoned …”1

It should be noted that a Palestinian detainee can be interrogated for a period of one hundred and eighty days, during which he or she can be denied a lawyer for ninety days. During interrogation a detainee can be subject to varying levels of torture, physical and/or psychological.

This was graphically described by an urbane, quietly spoken man (name withheld by request) who described the reality of being detained for the first time at fifteen years old.

“I was imprisoned in 1987, 1988, 1990 and 1992 then deported to South Lebanon.”

In 1987, as a student, he had been one of a number who were taken from their school by the authorities, to a detention centre. He was, he said, punched, interrogated, beaten for two months, then released for lack of evidence of any wrongdoing.

In 1988, he stated, in the night, his home “was stormed.” Soldiers rushed to his bedroom pointing guns at him as he awoke and struggled up. He was taken, blindfolded, his hands tied with plastic cuffs.

In prison he was “put in a yard. There were eight rooms on one side and cells on the other. In each room there was a different torture. I visited all eight.”

His head, he said, was banged hard against the wall, on the table as he sat; he was near choked by extreme pressure on his throat; a ruler was banged hard on his nose “in a way that makes you lose control of your head.” Eventually he lost consciousness.

Made to raise his head, stunning blows under the chin resulted.

He described a “breaking chair fall” after which “you are punched whichever way you move.”  And, he recounted, “female soldiers practice sex in front of you. Even as a child I knew how to keep a blind eye.” Shades of Abu Ghraib.

Failure to confess resulted in threats of death, “But I had nothing to tell.” He was finally released after sixty-four days due to no evidence.

He was arrested and released without charge again in 1990. In 1992 he was deported to Lebanon.

He was just twenty years old, with a life’s horrors already lived and childhood’s chrysalis years of discovery and approaching adulthood lost to Israeli jail’s nightmares.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Israel is a signatory, is specific:

In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.

Article 37(b) of the Convention adds:

The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child… shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time.2

The anomaly of the uniqueness of the military court system in Israel was addressed in detail as “an exception under all laws. A military court must deal with military people, not civilians, not minors.” A further anomaly is that there is no legal appeal system. An appeal is “an administrative decision, made usually not by a judge, or even a lawyer.”

Khaled Almudallal, representing Ufree, the European network to support the rights of Palestinian Prisoners, reminded that, incredibly, there are twenty-seven Palestinian parliamentarians of the Palestinian Legislative Council and two Ministers being held in detention.

A near forgotten tragedy has an equally forgotten background:

As candidates prepared for elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) in 2006, the Israeli authorities began a campaign of detention and imprisonment  … The 2006 Palestinian elections were overseen by international observers who declared them to be free and fair (thus) Hamas (became) the democratically elected Palestinian government.

Wrong kind of democracy, thus the democratically elected remain illegally detained by representatives of a people who, ironically, were given by James Arthur Balfour, a “national home” within “Palestine.” The famed letter has no mention of a “State”.  This “home”, it specifies, is conditional on:

 … it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine …

The injustices of historic enormity, legal and territorial, in violation of human rights under a swathe of international legislation, continue unabated – to be met by “the silence of the world”, commented al Mukhtar, adding, regarding the prisoners: “As far as I know, Middle East Peace Envoy Tony Blair, has been equally silent.”

However, the international community is not silent. The Boycott movement gains massive strength. Coincidentally, on the day of the Seminar, the Israeli Ambassador to South Africa had been due to address the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The event was cancelled by the University’s Deputy Vice Chancellor, Joseph Ayee, at twenty-four hour’s notice, due to the “likely reputational damage” it would bring the university.3

Politics Professor, Lubna Nadvi, said the university’s decision represented the general sentiment among students and staff. “Israel is fast becoming a pariah state, like Apartheid South Africa did, that no one really wants to be associated with, including academics and students,” the Professor is quoted as saying.

Yet destruction of Palestinian lives and history, sacred to all nations, is ongoing and six thousand prisoners remain in jail, and in beyond anything that would be recognized as a justice system in a functioning democracy.

In spite of the hunger strike agreement, there is so little progress from Israel, that there are fears that the only negotiating tool those held have – their lives – may be again put on the line.

Organizations represented at the Seminar are working closely with those involved in the Northern Ireland hunger strike to devise a way forward for both sides.

One suggestion, from British MP Jeremy Corbyn, is forming an international friendship network with prisoners, especially corresponding.

At a “Special Session on Children” at the United Nations on May 9. 2002, the Israeli Minister of Justice stated, in a lengthy address, Israel’s commitment to:

Extending the hope and promise of childhood to the millions of children that continue to suffer, even in an era of unprecedented global prosperity, means reducing poverty, protecting children from the scourge of war and violence … providing all children with adequate healthcare, clean water, basic education, and a nurturing and protective environment in which they can grow and thrive.

The yawning chasm between fine aspirational statements and reality on the ground could hardly be starker. For every child taken into custody, childhood dies at that moment.

For every parent arbitrarily held, they know not when they will see their children and family again. Some have shared none of their children’s formative years at all.

“Our revenge will be the laughter of our children”, wrote Ireland’s Bobby Sands, who died on the 66th day of his protest hunger strike, on May 5. 1981, four days short of his birthday. When there is nothing left to lose to achieve justice, those deprived will eventually sacrifice the last tragic bargaining tool in humanity’s creative box to achieve it.

Since the guests became occupiers, Palestine’s children and their parents have now waited sixty-four years to laugh freely.

  1. Graham Peebles, “Confined cruelty: Israeli treatment of Palestinian minors“, Middle East Monitor, March 26, 2012
  2. Shazia Arshad, “Child Prisoners“, Middle East Monitor, November 9, 2011
  3. Raphael Ahren, “Jerusalem slams Pretoria’s ‘unbelievable ignorance’”, The Times of Israel, May 21, 2012

May 26, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Comments Off on A Seminar on Palestine’s Prisoners: A Lament on Injustice