Hundreds of Palestinians abducted from Gaza by occupation forces, many remain missing

1751989-18Over 200 Palestinians have been abducted by occupation soldiers on the borders of Gaza during the ground invasion of Gaza, transferred to undisclosed locations, interrogated, and abused, while those same occupation forces killed over 1850 Palestinians, wounded nearly 10,000 and destroyed thousands of homes.

These civilians, who refused or who were unable to leave their homes due to massive aerial bombing and shelling, were transferred to special camps set up inside occupied Palestine ’48, and interrogated for hours or days by military forces and the Shin Bet. Over 75 of them were released and left outside Beit Hanoun, and the remaining Palestinian civilians from Gaza remain unaccounted-for and under arrest, as well as wounded people, some of whom were released without treatment after two days of interrogation. Paramedics and wounded people were arrested on July 24 as they left Khuza’a.

Issa Qaraqe, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, cautioned on August 4 that some Palestinians who were captured by the occupation army may have been shot immediately after their arrest, as were civilians attempting to leave Khuza’a. Some of those detained were taken to occupation hospitals and another portion are still under interrogation. He warned that some of the missing may have been murdered by occupation forces or allowed to bleed to death without medical treatment, and called upon the International Committee of the Red Cross to act urgently to determine the fate of the Palestinians arrested in Gaza by the occupation forces and the circumstances of their detention.

Addameer issued the following statement on the urgent situation of Palestinians arrested from Gaza:

24 July 2014, occupied Ramallah – As the brutal assault in Gaza continues onto its seventeenth day, Addameer Prisoners Support and Human Rights Association expresses deep concern regarding the newly launched mass arrest campaign launched by the Israeli forces.

At least 150 Palestinians were arrested overnight in Gaza and forcibly transferred to an undisclosed detention center where they are now undergoing interrogation by Special Unit 504 in coordination with the intelligence services. The detainees are expected to undergo interrogation by the Shin Bet as well.

Also among those who have been arrested in recent days are ‘Ammar Shami, who was injured during the shelling and is now hospitalized during his detention. Addameer’s colleagues from Al-Mezan in Gaza are representing Shami as well as nine other detainees: Mahmoud Abu Saeed, Afif Al-Jarah, Imad Al-Jarah, Abd Al Rahman Balousha, Hassan Al-Astal, Mohammad Al-Agha, Ahmad Abu Lahiya, Ibrahim Abu and Mohammad Al-Qudra. The ten detainees have lawyers bans for a period of ten days, making the circumstances of their interrogation and detention unknown.

Considering the arbitrary nature of these arrests, Addameer raises concerns that the detainees will be subject to Israel’s “Unlawful Combatants Law.” This law allows for Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to be detained for an unlimited amount of time without being charged or brought to trial. Under this law, detainees are issued a permanent detention order and are then brought before an Israeli District Court only once every six months for judicial review of their order. In practice, the Unlawful Combatants Law contains fewer protections for detainees than even the few that are granted under administrative detention orders in the West Bank.

In addition to the egregious war crimes committed by Israel in this latest round of aggression on Gaza, in which over 703 Palestinians have been killed, the majority of them civilians, and thousands injured, Addameer is concerned about the continued violation of international humanitarian law in regards to the prisoners. The forcible transfer of prisoners by the Occupying Power is in gross violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Furthermore, although the circumstances of the detainees interrogation are currently unknown, photos of the detainees indicate that they have been stripped of their clothing, detained in crowded areas and in some cases, blindfolded. This degrading and humiliating treatment is also in violation of IHL and IHRL, as well as the dignity of the prisoners and the Palestinian people. Israel’s well-known systematic and widespread use of physical and psychological torture against Palestinian prisoners also raises concerns for the treatment of the detainees as well.

Addameer calls on all international bodies to intervene immediately to implement international human rights and humanitarian law in the Gaza Strip, call for a ceasefire and hold accountable the perpetrators of the war crimes committed against the Palestinian people in the International Criminal Court.