Palestinians in Gaza celebrating the release of a political prisoner from the “Shalit exchange.” (Photo: United Nations News Centre)
Yesterday, the International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC) reported in February over 380 Palestinians were arrested by Israeli authorities. Riyadh Al-Ashqar compiles detention figures from the West Bank, Israel and the Gaza Strip, and conducted the detainee research.
The article on Al-Ashqar’s report also indicates nine of those arrested were prisoners released under the October 2011 Shalit exchange between Hamas and Israel. Of the political prisoners re-arrested, the most notable is hunger striker Hana Shalabi.
The other “Shalit exchange” prisoners are identified by IMEMC:
One of the kidnapped women is a lawyer, and former political prisoner, identified as Shereen Al-Esawy; she was taken prisoner after the army broke into her home and searched it, in occupied East Jerusalem.
The rest were identified as Mofeeqa Al-Qawasmi (the wife of detainee Mohammad Shafeeq Al-Qawasmi), Mona Abu Sneina (the wife of political prisoner Hamdan Abu Sneina), and Aesha Mousa Ghannam.
The four male political prisoners who were released under the Shalit Prisoner Swap Deal, and were rearrested in February, were identified as Ayman Abu Da’oud, Yousef Abdul-Rahman Shteiwy, Mahmoud Adnan Salim, and Rami Abu Haniyya.
The number of arrested Palestinian politicians also increased substantially, according to a separate study by Al-Ashqar. In January the number of imprisoned legislatures was 26. IMEMC and Al-Asqar label this practice as “kidnapping of the elected legislators” and explain that it “is carried out under direct political decisions made by the office of Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and not by regional military commanders.”
Since 1967 Israeli forces have used administrative detention as a tool to hold Palestinians in prison without formal charges. Incarceration rates for this form of imprisonment correlates to the highs and lulls in Palestinian popular resistance. For example, during the first Intifada almost two thousand Palestinians were held in detention. This number dropped to 16 prisoners in early 2001, and again skyrocketed during the second Intifada to over a thousand.
In the past two years, there has been an overall increase in the number of Palestinians in prison through administrative detention orders. After Operation Cast Lead in 2009, the number of prisoners held without charge was close to 200. Today, that number has climbed to over 300.