On Wednesday, February 02, the Global Rights Watch organisation (GRW), held an online seminar on the suffering of Palestinian prisoners inside Israeli occupation prisons, shedding light on the ongoing violations they are subjected to at the hands of the prison authorities.
The seminar was attended by experts, human rights defenders, media professionals and human rights activists, who discussed the physical and psychological means of torture practised against Palestinian prisoners for over seven decades. They also discussed the racist legislation enacted to legitimise these practices, taking place amid complete silence of the international community and under American protection.
Mr. Samer Samaru, former Director General of the Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs, highlighted the seriousness of the health situation of hunger strikers and those with chronic diseases, adding that the prison administration denies lawyers the right to visit the prisoners, to observe their health conditions.
He criticised the human rights organisations’ lack of necessary intervention to pressure for the release of prisoners with special health conditions and to save their lives.
Samaru stressed that the Israeli prison administrations uses medical care as a bargaining chip, or to blackmail and pressure the detainees, in a flagrant violation of the articles 3 and 4 of the Geneva Conventions that necessitate the right to treatment and medical care for sick prisoners.
Samaru added that medical clinics in Israeli prisons and detention centers lack the minimum health services, equipment, necessary medicine and specialised doctors to examine and treat cases. For example, Ramle Prison Hospital, to which sick prisoners are transferred, lacks medical and health equipment, and detainees there receive harsh and inhumane treatment, despite their sickness.
Samaru concluded his speech by stressing that the Israeli occupation authority uses medical negligence to cause the slow killing of prisoners, which completely breaches international laws and norms, humanitarian rules and medical professional ethics.
Mr. Thaer Shreiteh, spokesperson for the Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners Affairs Authority, spoke about the prisoners’ suffering in winter, due to the low temperatures and deprivation of means of heating, blankets and appropriate clothing. He also spoke about the over crowdedness in prisons and the spread of flu and other winter diseases, in addition to the outbreak of the Coronavirus and the lack of precautionary measures inside the occupation prisons.
Shreiteh held the international community responsible for the violations prisoners are subjected to at the hands of the occupation, as it does not take serious action to save the lives of the prisoners or improve their conditions of detention.
He condemned the inability of the international community to take a serious stance against the Israeli occupation for its violations of the rights of prisoners, or its suppression of the liberation movements. He also criticised the humanitarian bodies’ inability to deliver clothes and heating equipment to prisoners in this freezing weather, as families of the prisoners go through lengthy legal procedures at the Israeli Supreme Courts to allow the entry of winter clothes or shoes for prisoners.
Mr. Jamil Saadeh, Deputy Director of the Legal Department of the Detainees and Ex-Prisoners Affairs Authority, spoke about the legislation of more racist and discriminatory laws against the Palestinians in order to deprive them of their most basic rights, and legitimise the illegal practices used against them.
He highlighted the laws approved by the Knesset, which affect the Palestinian prisoners and the basic rights of the Palestinian people, and the laws that increase racist practices against the Arabs of 1948, by expanding the powers of the occupation army and police in order to achieve “national security goals” for Israel, including a law that allows the occupation police to conduct searches without a court order, in accordance with the criminal law regulations.
Following the escape of the six prisoners, decisions preventing the entry of medicines were made, in addition to holding the corpses of the dead prisoners, with more than 60 bodies kept in digital cemeteries.
He also mentioned the closure of six human rights and aid organisations and placing them on the list of terrorism by the occupation authorities, including Al-Dameer Foundation and Al-Haq Foundation, which documents violations against the Palestinian people. He stressed that such acts are aimed at covering up for the crimes of the Israeli occupation.
The speakers stressed on the need to achieve a greater public solidarity with the prisoners to convey their voice to the relevant international bodies. They also stressed that the Israeli occupation continues to violate the rights of Palestinian citizens to self-determination, violating the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and other international covenants and treaties.
– Arab and Islamic civil society must unite their efforts and cooperate with the International Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders, to effectively follow up on the health of the Prisoners, especially those who suffer from chronic diseases.
– Intensify cooperation between the media and prisoners’ affairs institutions and reach international organisations entrusted with defending human rights.
– Writing urgent appeal to the relevant United Nations bodies to provide protection for Palestinian prisoners, especially the vulnerable groups of the sick and those on hunger strike.