Palestinian Political Prisoner Burned to Death
27 January 2005

The Mandela Institute for Human Rights wishes to expose the incident occurred at Megiddo on Thursday 27 January 2005 which led to the death of a Palestinian political prisoner.


Megiddo is an Israeli military detention compound located in northern Israel close to the city of Jenin. Israeli military authorities that runs the compound holds 1200 Palestinians captive in the compound. The Mandela Institute learned the compound will be turned to the Israeli Prison Authority on 15 February 2005.

The Prisoner

Rassem Salman Salama Ghnaimat, a 26-year old Palestinian from the town of Kafr Malek near Ramallah and carries Identity Card #944815190, was arrested on 26 January 2002. He is serving a 63-month sentence.

The Incident

-Fire broke out around 6:00 AM on Thursday 27 January 2005 in a small room in Section #4. Reasons are not known yet;

-In addition to the late prisoner, other inmates were present in the room including 'Ala'a Masri from Balata Refugee Camp, Aiman Abu-Arab from Ramallah and Aiman 'Alawi from the village of Dair Jarir near Ramallah;

-Inmates were taken by surprise. Three of them hurried out and began yelling for help. Apparently Rassem tripped and could not get out in time. No one was able to re-enter the room as the fire was blazingly out of control;

-Inmates in Section #4, approximately 230, tried to put out the fire but water pressure was too low. They kept yelling for help;

-The compound administration came about 15-20 minutes later after the inmates had put off the fire which destroyed the adjacent canteen and two other rooms;

-An ambulance came and its team found Rassem completely charred.

Standing Issues

While the Mandela Institute believes it is too early to reach any conclusions, it calls upon the Israeli military authorities to conduct an immediate investigation of the incident and to implement instant measures to avoid recurrence of such horrible incidents. The Institute amplifies the need to investigate the administration's late response to the prisoners' call for help.

The Mandela Institute extends its deepest condolences to the Ghnaimat family and the families of Palestinian political prisoners.