Whenever I conduct an interview with a Palestinian prisoner or their family, I am told, repeatedly, that “no one cares. But is this really the case?
Maher Al-Akhras, a Palestinian man of 49 who has been detained repeatedly by Israel, is today in Day 78 of a hunger strike that has brought him close to death. Arrested in July without charges and held at an Israeli hospital since September, the West Bank man has refused an offer to be released next month, demanding his release now in the name of all Palestinian detainees.
Daoud al-Khatib, 45, died in Ofer prison last month near the end of 18-year sentence, of heart attack. He had undergone open-heart surgery in 2017, but difficult living conditions in prison, combined with the grief of losing both his parents while behind bars, had an adverse effect on his health.
Following an outbreak of the coronavirus, the Israeli Supreme Court has ruled against a petition demanding that the Israeli Prison Service implement social distancing in the Gilboa prison. Adalah slammed the decision, “Palestinian prisoners have no right to social distancing protection against COVID-19.”
The latest Israeli military order allows forces to seize funds in Palestinian banks. The political motivation behind this “legal” hogwash is the Israeli desire to punish the Palestinian leadership for refusing to stop making welfare payments to those Palestinians who were, or continue to be, detained in Israeli prisons—political prisoners,—in addition to welfare payments made to families of martyrs. It is important to note that nearly one million Palestinians have gone through the Israeli prison system since the start of Israeli military occupation in 1967.
During the first three weeks of April, B’Tselem documented 23 settler attacks against Palestinians. In all of March, 23 incidents were documented, 11 of them after the severe restrictions on movement and social gatherings were imposed. In comparison, 11 attacks were recorded in January and 12 in February.
Four Palestinian prisoners being held in the Megiddo prison in northern Israel have officially been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, sparking fears that the respiratory disease could spread quickly amongst the prison population.
The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society, Prisoners’ Affairs Commission, and Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association report that in 2019, Israeli occupation forces arrested over 5,500 Palestinians from the occupied Palestinian territory; including 889 children.
At a session on reproductive health at Aida refugee camp in Palestine, a community health worker asks, “In our political condition, men in prison get their sperm out, illegally, to women. What is the best condition for the sperm to be in?” Alice Rothchild, a visiting doctor, tries to imagine the conditions and desperation that lead to this practice.
Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli jails won a small but significant victory April 15 when the Israeli Prison Service agreed to several key demands voiced by 400 prisoners who had been on an open-ended hunger strike. The hunger strikers’ apparent victory came just two days before Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, an observation held annually on April 17 to draw attention to the plight of the thousands of political prisoners held—many for very long terms and many without any fixed term at all—in Israel’s broad network of military prisons.