Women's Organization for Political Prisoners (WOFPP)
Free all political prisoners
Newsletter October 2016
This newsletter deals mainly with the ordeal suffered by detainees on the way from prison to their court hearings, including the journey in the “posta” (the vehicle used to transport the prisoners).
In 2008, Adalah - The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, and the Haifa University Prisoners’ Rights Clinic submitted a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court regarding the transportation in the “posta”. The petition was withdrawn in July 2010 after the court stated that most of the issues had been resolved following the court proceedings.
Over the years we have consistently reported on the transportation conditions in the “posta” which according to many complaints by prisoners, have not changed but have rather become more severe.
WOFPP’s legal advisor, Taghreed Jahashan has contacted many times some of the petitioners listed above to inform them of the deterioration in the situation since the petition was withdrawn.
The following report was given to WOFPP’s legal advisor, Taghreed Jahashan by Hifa’a Abu Sbeh, detained in Damon Prison.
Some of the Damon political detainees have their hearing in the Ofer military court (near Ramallah). The arduous journey lasts three days!
The first day – from Damon Prison to Hasharon Prison
The detainee is taken out of the prison wing to the “posta”. The detainee takes with her one or two bags of clothes and food. The “posta” may be large or small and at times already contains male detainees. The first stage of the journey is the Carmel Prison (near Haifa) in order to collect additional detainees. From there they travel to the Kishon Detention Centre (Jalameh). Throughout, the women remain in the “posta”, sometimes for up to two or three hours without air conditioning in summer or heating in winter.
The next stop is Hasharon Prison where the detainees are kept in a transition wing which also holds criminal female prisoners although in separate cells. If the detainees arrive after lunch, they are not given a meal until the evening.
The second day – from Hasharon Prison to the Ofer Military Court
Around 3 or 4 am the detainees are taken out of the transition wing into a waiting room (after undergoing a body search), where they are kept until 6 am. On exiting the transition wing, detainees carry their belongings, one or more bags of clothes and food. They are hand and leg cuffed and at times they are fettered to each other. Clearly hand or leg cuffing two detainees together makes it extremely difficult to walk, and particularly to climb stairs while carrying their belongings which they have to remove from the transition wing and leave in Hasharon Prison to be collected on their way back to the prison.
At this stage, after another body search, they are loaded onto the “posta” where they must sit together with criminal and political male detainees and with criminal female detainees. From Hasharon Prison they are taken to Ramleh Prison. If there is a need to change vehicles, the detainees are taken out of the “posta” and if they get wet in winter they have to remain in their wet clothes until evening. If there is no need to change vehicles, the detainees have to wait in the “posta”. The Ramleh Prison stop lasts between two and three hours. Let us note again that they must remain seated in the overcrowded vehicle, with small windows, without air conditioning and without being able to use the toilet or get a drink of water
The next stop is the Ofer military court. The detainees are here transferred to the waiting room which is in an atrocious condition –filthy, the floor covered with water and the stone seats are cold and uncomfortable. The detainees are given some sort of lunch but as all the ingredients are mixed together in the container, the food is inedible.
During the proceedings the detainees are usually roughly treated by the female wardens. Note that this is an opportunity for the detainees to see their families and exchange a few words. Once the hearings end – having lasted just a few minutes because more often than not they are adjourned – the wardens pull the detainees’ handcuffs, not enabling them to bid farewell to their families, exchange a few words with their legal representatives or receive the report of the proceedings.
The proceedings usually end in the late afternoon when the journey back to prison begins, going again via Ramleh Prison, being stuck in the transit station for three or four hours while remaining seated in the “posta”. The detainees reach Hasharon Prison only around 9 or 10 pm when they are put into the transition wing. Needless to say that they are given food and drink only the following morning
. It is worth noting that the transition wings in Hasharon Prison are filthy, the detainees are not given soap to clean the floor or a mop to stop the water streaming from the showers to the cells. There is usually insufficient room for all the detainees, the cells are hot and stuffy and the netted windows are shut from outside with a metal sheet.
The third day – from Hasharon Prison to Damon Prison
At about 7 am the detainees are taken to the waiting room where they wait for some two hours before they are loaded onto the “posta”. The journey consists of the usual stops: at the Kishon Detention Centre they wait for some two hours to have detainees loaded or unloaded, at the Carmel Prison the same process takes place and from there they are finally brought to the Damon Prison. But this is not the end – here too they must wait for some three hours in the waiting room before they can enter their own cells.
This journey is so arduous that many detainees ask their legal representatives to request permission not to attend their proceedings. The court tends not to permit holding proceedings without the detainee being present even when it knows that the legal representative would request an adjournment.
Some details about the detainee Hifa’a Abu Sbeh
Hifa’a is 37 years old, resides in Hebron and is the married mother of six children. The youngest is two and the oldest 18 years old. Hifa’a is an elementary school principal in a private school and is active in several charitable organizations. She is chair of the Kindergarten and private school association in Hebron, board member of the Democracy Centre in Ramallah, and an international human resources trainer. She was arrested in her home on 14 December 2015 and has undergone arduous interrogations.
The occupation’s systematic campaign against Palestinian civil society organizations clearly means that it considers Hifa’a to be a risk and will do all it can can to imprison her.
Hasharon Prison (Tel Mond)
Hasharon Prison has 40 female political prisoners/detainees including 12 minors between the ages of 15 and 17, and 12 women aged 15 to 45 who were injured by the security forces during thier arrest.
At the end of July 2016 the women took part in the political prisoners’ hunger strike in solidarity with the hunger striker detainee Bilal Qayed. All political prisoners took part in the strike and since then as a punishment all political prisoners in all prisons are barred from viewing the Ma’an Palestinian television station broadcasting from the West Bank.
The Hasharon female detainees whose cases are heard in the Salem military court (north of Jenin), are transferred to the Kishon Detention Centre a day before the hearing and taken to Salem the next day. After the hearings they are taken back to the Kishon detention centre and the following day back to Hasharon Prison. In January 2015 the prisoner Yasmin Sha’aban
complained to the prison authorities regarding the harsh treatment and arduous travel conditions.
Following appeals by the prisoners and WOFPP’s legal advisor, Taghreed Jahashan to the prison aurhorities, the problem of visits by older family members has been resolved and the visits take place in a room adjacent to the waiting hall.
After the prisoners had sent back a meal and following discussions between them and the prison authorities, the problem of the long wait outside the waiting hall by the families was resolved. This campaign by the prisoners led to further concessions, including permission to receive the Quran and other books, and the right of prisoners to have the full 45 minutes allotted for family visits.
Studies continue in Hasharon Prison. Four prisoners passed the Taujihi exams (the Palestinian matriculation exams) successfully.
Of late there has been a worsening in the lawyers' visiting conditions:WOFPP’s legal advisor, Taghreed Jahshan has written to the prison authorities complaining about visiting rights and the limits on the visiting times. These limits restrict her visits to a small number of prisoners and cause an unjustifiable waste of time.
Damon Prison (Mount Carmel)
Damon Prison has 16 female political detainees\prisoners one of whom is from Gaza. They include one prisoner injured by the security forces during her arrest and one administrative detainee.
Following a visit by a representative of the Prison service and of the regional commander we can report a few changes:
- One toilet was added to the large room
- A prisoner who receives no visits obtained permission to receive clothes from family members of another prisoner in coordination with the prison authorities.
- Children under 8 are now allowed to meet their mother for the last ten minutes of the visit without a barrier once a month instead of once every two months as in the past.
Prisoners in Damon Prison may receive books but not craft materials. Up till now craft materials are brought in small quantities by the International Red Cross, families are not allowed to bring craft materials and WOFPP’s legal advisor, Taghreed Jahashan has written to the prison commander in this regard.
In Damon Prison the Ma’an television broadcasts were also discontinued and there is sporadic reception of radio broadcasts that serve to maintain contact between the prisoners and their families and inform prisoners of news from the West Bank.
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 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