Women's Organization for Political Prisoners (WOFPP)
Free all political prisoners
Newsletter June 2016
5 June – Naksa Day
On 5 June 1967 the State of Israel attacked Egypt, Jordan and Syria. In this war Israel occupied the West Bank the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights. Since then Israel continues to occupy West Bank (including East Jerusalem), Gaza Strip, and part of the Golan Heights.
Since 1967 Israel has arrested nearly a million Palestinians (10,000 of whom are women), who it categorises as ‘security prisoners’. Both the Palestinians and we define them as political prisoners. According to several sources, Israel is currently incarcerated around 7,000 political prisoners, of whom some 715 are administrative detainees. Some 414 prisoners are minors and around 64 prisoners are women. Please note that since these figures change daily. it is impossible to give precise figures.
At the same time, the killings of West Bank and Occupied East Jerusalem Palestinians continue. Since September 2015 alone the Israeli security forces (as well as Israeli civilians) have killed 172 Palestinians, including 16 women – the latest woman on 2 June 2016.
One of the most significant developments over the past few months has been the increase in the sentence threshold. This involves a worsening of the policy of imposing heavy fines, mostly, but not exclusively, by targeting parents of Palestinian children throwing stones. For example, D.A. and S.T., two minor girls, who were recently been sentenced for four and a half months were also heavily fined (8,000 and 7,000 NIS respectively).
Another aspect of the escalation in indictment and imprisonment practices relates to social media offences. Since October 2015 Israel has brought more than 200 indictments against Palestinians posting on Facebook, postings it defines as ‘incitement’ and which according to social media sources in general incur prison sentences of one year or more.
Several women are currently in prison for these social media (Facebook) offences. They include Samah Duweik
, a 25 year old East Jerusalem journalist, arrested on 10 April 2016, and Duniyah Muslah
, a 20 year old from the Daheisha refugee camp, arrested on 16 November 2015. Their trials are in process.
We would also like to mention the poet Dareen Tatour
, was arrested on 11 October 2015, She was interrogated in the Jalameh (Kishon) prison, then transferred to the Hasharon prison and from there to the Damon prison. Since 13 January 2016 she has been kept under house arrest and her trial is in process.
Needless to say, no Israeli Jews who have routinely used social media to call for the death of non-Jews in a variety of ways, have been arrested.
On 17 June 2016 the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz published journalist Amira Hass
’s interview with the Palestinian Parliamentarian Khalida Jarrar
, who, having served 14 months in prison was released on 3 June 2016. In the interview Khalida Jarrar heaped praise on the veteran prisoner and prisoner representative Lina Jarbuni
. Jarbuni has taken upon herself delicate and difficult tasks such as washing injured prisoners/detainees unable to do this for themselves, accompanying them to the medical and physiotherapy clinics, and preparing hot meals for them. (at the time of the interview there were ten injured prisoners, five of whom are minors), Jarrar who even before her imprisonment had devoted much of her political and social activism to the issue of Palestinian prisoners, admitted that she was surprised to discover during her time in prison that the various prisoner rights organisations have not managed to tackle several important issues.
One such issue is the 'posta' the vehicle used to transport the prisoners to and from the courts or for medical treatment. According to Jarrar, the journeys in the posta are one of the worst experiences for both female and male prisoners. As she said, ‘If those of us not suffering injury or illness felt sick for two or three days after each journey by 'posta', what can we say about female prisoners shot and injured by the Israeli security forces?’
The 'posta' is a vehicle divided into separate single or double cells. Prisoners leave prison around two a.m. (though prisoners transported from the Damon prison are picked up the night before), and are hand- and leg-cuffed. The 'posta' collects Jewish, Arab, criminal, religious, male and female prisoners from several prisons. Its first stop is the Ramle prison which functions as a ‘transit station’, where prisoners must wait for several hours. From there the 'posta' continues, as in Jarrar’s case, to the military court in the Ofer military camp, where male and female prisoners are held in filthy, cold cells from which they are taken to their court hearings, after which they are again kept in the same cells until they are returned to their prison in the small hours of the night.
It is vital to mention these details, since we have been writing and complaining about the posta as a form of torture for several years.
Hasharon Prison (Tel Mond)
At the time of writing there were 42 female detainees/prisoners, including 13 minors, in Hasharon Prison.
The overcrowding has lessened. Altogether there are 15 rooms, nine on the first floor and six on the second. There is a room serving as a study room and a large room serving as a library and dining room as well as a storage room.
At the time of writing the prison authorities have not permitted the prisoners to receive books from their families.
Following a struggle by the prisoners [with the prison authorities], four electric plugs have been installed in each room and new shelves and wardrobes have been built in the bathroom.
A larger yard has been made available and the prisoners can use it from 10.30 am to 13.30 pm. and from 14.30 to 17.30 pm. During the fast of the month of Ramadan prisoners are allowed to go out to the yard from 19.30 to 20.30 pm. for a common Iftar (meal breaking the fast). In addition, and as a result of the prisoners’ demands, prisoners can exercise in the yard without the presence of male prison officers from 8.30 am until 9.30 am.
However, the move to the new wing is causing difficulties for family members as the visiting room is located far away and up many stairs, causing hardship for elderly family members. One of the prisoners’ mothers has to be carried on a chair by male family members.
Studies continue in Hasharon Prison even during Ramadan. Four prisoners have registered for the Taujihi (matriculation) exams.
Damon Prison (Carmel Mountains)
At the time of writing there are 20 female detainees/prisoners in the Damon Prison.
The Damon Prison was visited by both the Israel Prison Service Commissioner and the District commander. During both visits the prisoners brought up the issues affecting them: the single toilet in each cell, the lack of craft materials, the impossibility of exercising since the yard is located opposite the administration offices and prison officers’ quarters, the dearth of television and radio stations, and the prohibition on receiving materials for craft work.
On both visits the response was that the issues would be examined and that, if the prisoners were not transferred to Hasharon Prison, another toilet would be installed.
In Damon Prison there is reception (although it is not always good enough) of one radio station which has a special programme for prisoners. Families can call the station and leave messages for the prisoners. However, due to the high number of inmates in Israeli prisons, clearly not all families manage to call the station.
The lack of craft materials is significant; only the Red Cross representatives are permitted to bring craft materials and they do that, albeit infrequently, and the quantities of materials are negligible and insufficient.
As to clothing: In Hasharon Prison family members visiting specific prisoners are allowed to bring clothes for another prisoner. This is important because it means that new prisoners who are not yet entitled to family visits or those denied visitors can receive new clothes. This is not permitted in Damon Prison, where there are many prisoners whose families have not received visiting permits or have only received a one-off permit.
Thus for example, Hilweh Hamamreh
, arrested on 3 November 2015, has had only one visit, during which she saw her two year old daughter. Since then the family has not received a visiting permit.
Damon Prison also has two administrative detainees (let us remind readers that administrative detention is detention without indictment): Sanaa Abbas Abu Sanina
, who has been in administrative detention since 17 February 2016, and whose detention has just been extended by three months; and Suad Arzikat
, who has been in administrative detention since 3 December 2015, whose detention has been extended by three months, and whose family has no visiting permit; the only people who visit her are her two little sisters.
Most difficult are the plights of Nasreen Hassan
, a mother of seven from Gaza and of Sanaa Alhafi
, a mother of four, also from Gaza. Due to the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip their families (husbands and children) are not allowed to visit them.
As this newsletter goes to press there have been several changes in regard to some of the foregoing and we will update that information in the next newsletter.
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