2004: Worst Year for Palestinian Prisoners
GAZA, Palestine, January 3, 2005 (IPC + WAFA) - -
The Palestinian Ministry of (political) Prisoners and Ex-Detainees Affairs
considered on Sunday that 2004 was the worst year for Palestinian prisoners,
as detention conditions inside Israeli jails deteriorated to a level never
seen in 30 years.
A report issued by the ministry's information department indicated that the
year 2004 witnessed fierce attacks inside Israeli jails that reached all
prisoner categories, pointing out that the most dangerous measure Israeli
authorities attempted was to label those prisoners as terrorists, and treat
them in the same way as Guantanamo prisoners in order to strip them of
The report pointed out that the Israeli government has given the
administration of prisons to radical military generals who deal with the
prisoners in an absolute military sense, leading to the increase of
oppression, persecution and aggression against those prisoners.
Mr. Riyadh Al Ashqar, director of the information department, said that
since 1967 more than half a million Palestinian prisoners have been
imprisoned in Israeli jails.
"Since Al Aqsa Intifada, Israeli occupation forces arrested about 35
thousand prisoners, eight thousands of them still inside the different
Israeli jails. Of those still imprisoned, 361 children and 126 females in
addition to about a thousand patients suffering different diseases,
including paralysis, blindness and amputations.
Al Ashqar noted that the administrative detention frequencies have increased
drastically, a thing that caused the administrative detainees to boycott the
court hearings to protest the renewal of their terms. 2464 administrative
detainees are still inside Israeli jails, of them 434 have spent more than
ten years, 140 spent more than 15 years and 16 spent more than 20 years,
while five prisoners, including the oldest Palestinian prisoner Saeed Al
Ataba, have spent more than 25 years in prison.
The Ministry documented more than 2000 arrests this year, compared with 500
cases in 2001. The number of deaths among the prisoners also increased
during 2004, as 176 prisoners died inside Israeli jails, compared with 165
deaths until 2003.
Also, the year 2004 recorded an increase in the number of life terms, as the
number of prisoners sentenced to more than one life terms in Israeli jails
reached 444 prisoners, including Abdullah Barghouti, who was sentenced to 67
life terms in prison, which is considered the highest verdict ever made in
As for detention conditions inside the jails, the year 2004 witnessed the
revoking of kitchen access to Palestinian prisoners, and instead the kitchen
was handed over to Israeli criminal convicts, and thus Palestinian prisoners
refused to eat what those convicts cook as it contradicts their beliefs and
traditions, forcing them to prepare their own food and incur more expenses
due to the increase in foodstuffs prices.
The prisoners also complained of the bad food being served in Israeli jails,
which resulted in many food-poisoning cases among them. Additionally,
Israeli jail administrations imposed many penal measures against Palestinian
prisoners, including banning family visits, imposing high fines for
worthless reasons, frequent transfer of prisoners from one jail to another
to destabilize the prisoners.
One of the prisoners, Aladdin Al Bezyan, who is a blind man sentenced to 20
years in jail, has been denied family visits for four years now.
Al Ashqar further mentioned that during 2004 a large number of female
prisoners was recorded, as 63 out of a total of 126 prisoners remain inside
The Ministry of Prisoners Affairs report asserted that the number of patient
prisoners soared inside Israeli jails, due to the bad detention conditions
as well as decreased hygiene and lack of proper health care.
The number of sick prisoners rose from 700 in 2003 to more than a thousand
in 2004 including dozens whose conditions are serious and require immediate
surgeries, according to outside doctors who reviewed their medical files.
The report confirmed that there have been a deliberate lack of medical
attention by the Israeli Prison Service towards Palestinian prisoners,
especially those hospitalized at Al Ramleh prison hospital, where 140
prisoners are staying there with minimum attention.
The year 2004 also saw the opening of new jails to accommodate the large
number of prisoners being arrested everyday by random arrest campaigns and
raids throughout the Gaza Strip and West Bank. The 'Gilboa' prison was
recently opened in the Bisan Valley near 'Shatta' prison, and can
accommodate 200 prisoners.
The Israeli Prison Service made this new prison to isolate the leaders of
the prisoners' movement.
Israeli authorities also opened a new block in 'Ayalon' prison, which was
previously a horse stable, and will be used to detain civilians, and later
turned it into a block for Palestinian prisoners. Another new block was also
opened in 'Negev' desert prison.
As for weapons, Israeli authorities used a variety of chemical agents
against the prisoners, such as hot pepper rounds that paralyze the prisoner
and cause him to suffer excruciating pains.
The year 2004 also witnessed a grave escalation towards minor prisoners, as
Israeli authorities dealt with them as 'ticking bombs', imprisoning and
torturing them as adult prisoners, which is a blatant violation of all human
rights law and international conventions.
The number of patient children inside Israeli jails rose to 48, compared
with 34 in 2003.
At the end of its report, the Ministry of Prisoners Affairs demanded all the
legal and human rights organizations to urgently interfere and help the
Palestinian prisoners, as well as expose the Israeli violations against them
and intensify visits to Israeli jails to get a closer picture on the
prisoner's catastrophic conditions, especially patients and minors, whose
detention lacks the simplest rights stated by the Fourth Geneva Convention.