Women's Organization for Political Prisoners (WOFPP)
Free all political prisoners
Newsletter April 2016
April newsletter for Palestinian Prisoners Day
Palestinian Prisoners Day on April 17 has been an annual national Palestinian event since 1974. On this day Palestinians express solidarity with female and male prisoners detained in Israel and with their families.
It is worth noting that incarcerating prisoners and detainees from the occupied territories within the Israeli state constitutes a major infringement of the fourth Geneva Convention which outlaws the transfer of prisoners and detainees outside an occupied territory.
According to various sources, some 7,000 Palestinian political prisoners are currently held in Israeli jails, including 670 administrative detainees, 450 minors, 70 women – including 14 mothers, 15 minors and 3 administrative detainees. However we are unable to guarantee the exact number of women prisoners and detainees due to the high number of detentions.
In this newsletter we focus on the ways in which women political prisoners and detainees are discriminated against in comparison with criminal prisoners:
- Family visits are held across a transparent screen and the conversations are conducted by telephone
- Prisoners/detainees, including minors, are not allowed to touch or hug family members
- Family visits are limited to first degree relatives only
- Family members in possession of Palestinian Authority IDs have to secure visit permits from the Israeli authorities through the Red Cross. Many family members are not granted visit permits, and some are only granted one-off half yearly or yearly permits
- There are times when even the approval does not allow the passage of the family members at the checkpoint.
- Family members who are former prisoners, even when granted visit permits, need to secure further permits from the prison authorities
- Needless to say, if on visit days Israel imposes closure on the Palestinians in the occupied territories, the visit is cancelled.
- Because of the strictures mentioned above many women prisoners/detainees do not receive family visits
- Prisoners/detainees’ children under the age of eight are allowed open visits, without the dividing screen, for the last ten minutes of the visit, but open visits necessitate prior coordination. Note that there are many mothers among the prisoners/detainees
- Female prisoners/detainees are not allowed to telephone their families
- Female prisoners/detainees are not granted leave
- When a lawyer asks to see prisoners, he/she must send a request to the Prison Service at least 24 hours beforehand and must wait for a permit. Meetings between lawyers and prisoners are also carried on across the dividing screen via telephone.
- Political Palestinian prisoners are forbidden to avail themselves of advanced education by correspondence, as approved by the Supreme Court sitting as a High Court of Justice in 2015
- It is noteworthy that, apart from dentists, there are no medical specialists in prison. Needless to say, women prisoners require gynaecological services
- Only two family members at a time are permitted to attend military court sessions
In our previous newsletter we reported on the intolerable ‘posta’ transportation conditions. Sadly, nothing has changed and we still believe that the conditions in the ‘posta’ constitute a form of torture.
Another issue we have mentioned in the past and which is worthy of further mention is the withholding by the Israeli prison service of letters written to Palestinian women political prisoners by international supporters.
Conditions in Hasharon and Damon Prisons continue to be severe as detailed below
Hasharon Prison (Tel Mond)
On March 31 2016, due to intolerable overcrowding, Palestinian women political prisoners were transferred to a new wing. Despite expectations that the Prison Service would carry out renovations prior to transferring the prisoners, no such renovations were carried out and conditions are dire. Window frames are rusty, walls have not been painted, each room has only one electrical outlet, making it impossible to watch television and boil a kettle at the same time. The distance between the old and new wings makes it difficult for the prisoners’ lawyers who have to wait a long time for a prison service escort to take them to the new wing. This is crucial, as it takes up precious time which should be used for longer consultations with the prisoners.
Medical conditions – we already noted in our previous newsletter that several detainees and prisoners injured by the Israeli security forces are still in prison, not hospital. We believe that these prisoners have been discharged too early from the Israeli hospitals where they received treatment. While they receive some medical treatment in jail and are tended by other prisoners, this is medically unsatisfactory.
For example: Yasmeen AlZaro from Hebron was arrested on 14 February 2016. During her arrest she was shot at by IDF soldiers resulting in injuries to her hand, leg and stomach. She was taken to Sha’arei Tsedek hospital in Jerusalem, where she underwent several operations but after 14 days of hospitalisation, Yasmeen was transferred to Hasharon Prison. After three or four days, she was again taken to hospital where her hand was operated on and where she received treatment for her stomach injury and for an infection. This time she stayed in hospital for 12 days after which she was again returned to jail.
Needless to say that the prisoners assist the injured women and the minor prisoners as best they can, giving the girls psychological support, and holding classes. Some of the girls are planning to sit their Taujihi (final) exams this year.
Damon Prison (Carmel Mountain)
In Damon prison 18 detainees live in one room with only one toilet.
Lawyers are allowed to meet only three of the detainees/prisoners at each visit.
In Damon there are two women prisoners from Gaza, Nasrin Hassan and Sanaa Al Hafi their families in Gaza are prohibited from visiting them due to the Israeli blockade of Gaza.
Suad Arzikat from Tapuach near Hebron is held under administrative detention. Suad is an Open University Business Administration student who was detained on 3 December 2015. Her administrative detention has just been extended for three more months. This is Suad’s second detention – she was a prisoner between 8 April 2008 and 7 July 2009.
Another administrative detainee held in Damon is Sanaa Abu Sanina.
We note yet again that administrative detention is preventative detention without charges being brought against the detainee. It is usually based on secret intelligence and can be arbitrarily extended repeatedly and without limit.
Certificates of respect
On 29 March 2016 the Nablus Hawa Arts and Culture Centre held a ceremony marking Land and Identity Day, Women’s Day and Mother’s Day. We are proud to note that WOFPPs' legal adviser, Adv. Taghreed Jahshan, and Adv. Sahar Francis, director of Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, were invited to receive certificates of respect for their work for political prisoners. The ceremony was attended by the Director General of the Palestinian Culture Ministry.
Adv. Jahshan spoke in many interviews after the ceremony about the work she has been doing with women political prisoners. She described the dire prison conditions and spoke of her efforts to gain rights for the women prisoners. She also noted the large number of prisoners and minors who are studying and who have sat and will be sitting the Palestinian final exams.
We call for solidarity with Palestinian political prisoners and for their release.
Due to the large number of detainees and prisoners, WOFPP is now visiting two prisons, Damon and Hasharon, and the number of prison visits has also increased. The minor prisoners who are incarcerated for the first time require extra attention and we are also addressing the cases of prisoners injured during their arrest, something that is new to our experience. At the same time we also continue to monitor the hearings at the military courts. The extra work has placed a strain on our very limited budget and donations to help with our increasingly heavy workload will be much appreciated.
For donations to WOFPP:
Women's Organization for Political Prisoners (WOFPP)
Account number: 471067
Daniel Frisch St. 3,Tel Aviv 64078, ISRAEL
IBAN number: IL 60-0125-3200-0000-0471-067
BIC (swift): POALILIT
Address to receive the contribution:
Frug Street 30
Tel Aviv 63417, ISRAEL