For Palestinian prisoners, Ramadan is a time of deprivation and struggle

thumbFormer prisoner Rafat Hamdouna, director of the Center for Prisoners’ Studies, said that Ramadan for Palestinian prisoners will take place amid continuous violations of prisoners’ rights. Hamdouna noted that there is a long record of prison administrators’ interference and disruption of worship in the month of Ramadan, denying prisoners’ access to the general prison yard for evening prayers and failing to provide a prison chapel, despite the fact that full religious services and accommodation are provided to all Jewish criminal prisoners in occupation prisons. The prison administration provides irregular mealtimes and they often prevent the introduction of religious books during Ramadan.

In addition, the Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners reported on July 6 that the Israel Prison Services refused the request to increase the amount of money in their canteens that prisoners would be able to receive from their families for the month of Ramadan. The ministry had requested that monthly family contributions be permitted to increase to 500 shekels per prisoner. Canteen products are often necessary purchases because of the low quality and/or absence of essentials provided by Israel Prison Services. The canteen is overpriced, far above the going costs in Palestine ’48 or the West Bank and operated for-profit by an Israeli corporation, Dadash.

Riad Al Ashqar of the Palestine Prisoners Centre for Study said that the occupation has annually engaged in cell and ward raids and inspections during Ramadan, increased the use of isolation and denied isolated prisoners the right to participate in collective religius functions, transferring prisoners from prison to prison. Ashqar pointed out that many prisoners in some detention centres and isolation cells are not informed of iftar and suhoor times, and they cannot see the sun or sunset, or hear calls to prayer. Ashqar noted that Ramadan comes this year as a number of prisoners are opn open hunger strike and facing seriously ill health, as well as ongoing medical neglect and abuse against Palestinian prisoners. Ashqar demanded that the occupation stop obstructing the entry of prisoners’ requests during Ramadan, such as dates and olive oil.

All called for international vigilance and remembering the Palestinian prisoners at Ramadan, taking action to defend them against abuse and denial of their religious rights, and calling for their freedom.