Search This Blog

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Palestine Monitor factsheet - Updated: 17 December 2008


“It would be better to drown these prisoners, in the Dead Sea if possible, since that’s the lowest point in the world.”
Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Avigdor Lieberman, speaking on the release of Palestinian prisoners.

Palestinian Prisoners: The Facts

- Prisoners are held in the approximately 30 detention centers (21 prisons, 5 detention, 4 interrogation centers, and at least 1 secret interrogation facility) located within the 1967 borders of Israel.
- The figures of Palestinian detainees vary between sources. ICRC is following-up on roughly 10,500 prison-ers (October 2008); whereas Addameer, who get their data from HaMoked, who in turn get their data from the Israeli Prison Service, estimate that there are 9,493 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.
- Out of the 9,493 – 750 are administrative detainees, 349 are aged 18 and under, and 75 are female. Israel also detains 47 Palestinian parliamentarians. According to the Israeli Government 70% of prisoners have “blood on their hands”. The political make-up of prisoners is: 44% Fatah, 26% Hamas, 14% Islamic Jihad, 5% Popular Front, 1% Democratic Front, and 10% are undefined.

Palestinian Prisoners

Throughout the Israeli military occupation of Palestine since 1967, Palestinians from all walks of life have been illegally detained by Israel. Since 1967, over 700,000 Palestinians have been detained - totalling ap-proximately 20% of the total Palestinian population remaining within the oPT. The majority of those detained are male, meaning that the number constitutes approximately 40% of the total male Palestinian population in the oPT.
This places Palestine among the leaders of another gruesome statistic - as one of the most imprisoned peoples on earth. The irony, as opposed to nations such as China or the United States, is that Palestinians are not incarcerated by their own government.
The arrest and detention of Palestinians living within the oPT is governed by a wide-ranging set of Israeli military regulations that control every aspect of Palestinian civilian life. There are over 1,500 of said military regulations governing the West Bank and over 1,400 governing the Gaza Strip. Often Israeli military com-manders in particular regions issue military orders which remain unknown by the Palestinian population subject to them, who in turn find out only once they are implemented or ‘broken’.
Despite the illegality of Israel’s detention policy in the occupied Palestinian Territories, the international community has largely stood silent for fear of offending the much more economically and militarily power-ful Israel. The silence becomes deafening when one considers the amount of evidence compiled concerning the treatment of Palestinian detainees at the hands of their captors. According to Israeli, Palestinian and international human rights organizations, Israel routinely utilizes torture.
Throughout the Annapolis process, prisoners have played a key role in what are called ‘confidence building measures’ where a certain amount of prisoners are released back to the Palestinian Authority in exchange for promises or good behavior. Somewhat cynically, there have been more Palestinians imprisoned throughout the last year than there have been released as part of these measures.

Israeli Regulations

The majority of Palestinian political prisoners are charged with offenses under Israeli military orders. There are approximately 1,500 military regulations that govern the West Bank, and 1,400 governing the Gaza Strip. These orders carry a broad definition of “security” and they ban, amongst other things, political expression.
As stated previously, the issuance of new orders usually remains unknown and only become apparent when they are implemented. For example, according to Military order 101 it is “forbidden to conduct a protest march or meeting (grouping of ten or more where the subject concerns or is related to politics) without permission of the Military Commander”. The distribution of political articles and pictures with “political connotations” is also forbidden under the same order.
Furthermore, according to Military Order 938 “supporting a hostile organization by holding a flag or listen-ing to a nationalist song” is considered a “hostile action”. Because of Israel’s wide definition of “security”, Palestinians can be arrested or imprisoned for practically any form of public activity, regardless of whether or not they actually present any legitimate security threat to Israel.

The Process of Detention and Release

The arrest can happen anywhere: at home, on the street or at Israeli checkpoints. In most cases the arrests happen during house raids, often conducted after midnight, and in which no reason is given for the deten-tion. The soldiers frequently open fire against the building before entering, raid the family homes, beat the family members or use them as human shields during the arrest. Arrest is often carried out in a humiliating way; the person is either beaten or forced to strip in public, before being taken away to a location undisclosed to either the detainee or their family.
Often at politically convenient moments, the Israeli authorities agree to high-profile prisoner releases. A recent example was on August 25th, 2008, when 198 prisoners were released. According to the Israeli Min-istry of Foreign Affairs this was a unilateral move to release “convicted terrorists” - all of whom came from the ranks of those factions that support the leadership of PA President Abbas” in the “hope of promoting dialogue with those pragmatic Palestinians who are both engaged in diplomacy with Israel and opposed to terrorism”.
However, statistics show that in August alone, another 338 Palestinians were arrested. Also, in 2005 Israel relaeased some 900 prisoners, while during the year they captured an additional 1000.

Administrative Detention

Administrative detention is detention without charge or a trial, and is authorized by administrative order rather than by judicial decree.
Administrative detention is allowed under interna-tional law to prevent the danger posed to a state by a specific individual. However, since Israel has never defined the criteria for what constitutes “state secu-rity”, its use of administrative detention is in clear violation of international law.
Under Israeli law (Military Order 1229, of 1988) ad-ministrative detention orders may last for up to six months, with no trial or charges brought. While de-tainees can appeal the detention, neither they nor their lawyers are allowed to see the evidence or know the reason for the detention, thereby making it very difficult for them to counter the allegations against them.
Israel regularly renews the detention orders and may do so a number of times, thus holding the Palestinian prisoner(s) indefinitely.
One of the longest Palestinian administrative detain-ees remained in custody for over 8 years, without be-ing charged for a crime.
In 2007, Israel held a monthly average of 830 admin-istrative detainees, which was 100 higher than the monthly average in 2006.

International Law

On July 6th, 1951 Israel ratified their membership in the both the third and fourth Geneva Conven-tions concerning the treatment of captured pris-oners of war and the protection of civilians during times of war respectively.
Despite the very clear and concise implications of these treaties, Israel has breached their obligations on numerous occasions according to a number of credible local and international human rights or-ganizations. Israel has been found to be in contra-vention to nearly every article of the conventions including treatment, process of detention and even location of detainees.
For instance, the transfer of detainees to prisons located within Israeli territory is illegal according to The Fourth Geneva Convention which states that “Protected persons accused of offences shall be detained in the occupied country, and if con-victed they shall serve their sentences therein”.
Furthermore, the detention of the prisoners inside Israel also infringes the right of the detainees to receive family visits as these are at best very diffi-cult and more often than not impossible. The ma-jority of residents from the West Bank are denied entry into Israel even for a short visit; and all visits for families from Gaza to their relatives detained in Israeli prisons have been suspended since June 2007.


Following their arrest by Israel, Palestinian detainees are often beaten and stripped in a humiliating manner incondusive to cultural norms. The interroga-tion is then carried out in an inhumane and degrading way, which often amounts to torture. Although the Israeli High Court outlawed in September 1999 the use of various methods of torture by the Israeli Security Agency, the practice remains widespread. According to Israeli Human Rights Group B’tselem, up to 85% of Palestinian detainees are subject to torture.
Methods of torture include: sleep deprivation, tying a detainee to a chair in painful positions, beating, slapping, kicking, threats, verbal abuse and humili-ation, bending the body in extremely painful positions, intentional tightening of handcuffs, stepping on worn manacles, application of pressure to different parts of the body, forcing the detainee to squat in a painful position, choking and other forms of violence and humiliation (eg spitting and pulling hair out). Ill treatment in solitary confinement includes: sleep deprivation, exposure to extreme heat and cold, continuous exposure to artificial light, and confinement in inhuman conditions.
Furthermore, the prison conditions are appalling; many detainees are accom-modated in tents which are extremely hot in the summer and cold in the winter. There is serious overcrowding and the food is poor, resulting in high rates of anaemia among prisoners.

Child Prisoners

According to the military regulations in force in the occupied Palestinian Territories, a child over the age of 16 can be considered as an adult, contrary to the definition of a child as being under 18 in the UN Conven-tion on the Rights of the Child (to which Israel is a signatory).
In practice however, children as young as 12 have been charged and sentenced in Israeli military courts. Be-tween the ages of 12-14, children can be sentenced for offenses for a period of up to 6 months. After the age of 14, Palestinian children are tried as adults. There are no juvenile courts, and children are often detained in centers together with adults.
This is again in direct contravention with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which states that “every child deprived of liberty shall be separated from adults unless it is considered in the child’s best inter-est not to do so”.
Between September 2000 and August 2008, an estimated 6,700 Palestinian children were arrested and de-tained in Israeli prison facilities and treated in the same manner as adults.

No comments:

Post a Comment