Repression, isolation and confrontation in Israeli prisons

Palestinian prisoners of all political affiliations were attacked and isolated in Israeli prisons as the Israeli cabinet announced its plans to implement further sanctions against Palestinian political prisoners on Monday, 2 January.

Kamil Abu Hanish, a leader of the prisoners of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was transferred into solitary confinement in Nafha prison and accused of possession of “incitement materials;” this came after the earlier denial of books and other materials to the PFLP prisoners, who pledged escalating protests if Abu Hanish was not released from isolation.

The isolation of Abu Hanish came as another prisoner, Ramzi Obeid of Fateh, was not released from isolation as originally ordered on 1 January. In Nafha prison, 13 prisoners from Fateh were isolated and three prisoners were injured and sprayed with tear gas when their sections in the prison were stormed by special forces and sprayed with tear gas. Issa Qaraqe noted that the injured prisoners included Mansour Shreim, Thaer Hammad and Ahmed Omar. In addition, the director of the prison was apparently wounded as the Israeli occupation forces clashed with the prisoners. The 13 prisoners had refused to return to their sections in protest of the continued isolation of Obeid.

The 13 prisoners were ordered to solitary confinement, were banned from family visits and each was fined 1,000 NIS ($260 USD). Among the isolated prisoners is Mohammed Dahnoun, a representative of the prisoners in Section 4 of Nafha. This came only one day after sanctions were imposed on Fateh prisoners in Ramon prison for celebrating the anniversary of Fateh’s founding inside the prison.

These attacks have come amid the storming of section 1 of Nafha prison overnight on 1 January, locking down the section, where Hamas prisoners are held, as the Israeli cabinet announced a new set of sanctions seeking to target what it identified as the prisoners affiliated with Hamas, as well as its refusal to turn over the bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli occupation forces, in an attempt to pressure the Palestinian resistance group over captured Israeli soldiers in Gaza.  Imprisoned Hamas leader Abdullah Barghouthi was transferred to isolation in Saba prison.

Palestinian political prisoners across all factions have condemned the measures and the Israeli attempt to segregate the prisoners by political affiliation, focusing on rejection of isolation and common struggle against repression. Spokespeople of Fateh, Islamic Jihad, Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine condemned these sanctions as an attempt to divide the prisoners and suppress the resistance, noting that the prisoners were united against these attacks and viewed them as attacks on all Palestinian prisoners as a whole, as demonstrated by the attacks on prisoners of all political affiliations in Nafha.