Palestinian women prisoners protest surveillance cameras for 34 days

Palestinian women prisoners in HaSharon prison have launched a series of protests against their conditions of confinement. For 34 days, they have remained inside their rooms, refusing to go to recreation time in the prison yard since surveillance cameras were installed there in early September, in an attack on prisoners’ previous accomplishments inside Israeli prisons. The cameras have also been installed in the corridors leading to their rooms where they wash, cook and pray. Palestinian male prisoners elsewhere have also joined their campaign in solidarity with the women prisoners’ protest.

The women prisoners have closed their sections since 5 September in protest of the surveillance cameras and other repressive tactics of the prison administration. They have refused to return to recreation until the cameras are removed completely and refused a proposal to cover the cameras for two hours a day. They noted that the cameras affect their personal privacy and freedom and that their presence denies the women access to air, sun and exercise. In addition, the yard includes not only the recreation area but also the kitchen, canteen (prison store) and washing machine.

The mothers of the young women prisoners, Shorouq Dwayyat and Malak Salman, said that their daughters are suffering from bad conditions inside HaSharon and have not left their room for 33 days. In addition to being prevented from accessing the canteen, they have experienced continuous electricity cuts inside their rooms. They also said that other mothers of the women prisoners have been severely traumatized by seeing their children’s experience inside the prison.

The cameras were previously removed several years ago after a protest by the women prisoners, but they were reinstalled in early September, sparking the protest. 34 of the 54 women prisoners are held in HaSharon prison; they others are held in Damon prison. In either case, transportation to and from the prison to the military courts is particularly arduous, requiring travel of up to 12 hours at a time in harsh, uncomfortable conditions in the so-called “bosta.” In addition, the prison administration has threatened to transfer the prisoners collectively if they will not stop their protest.

Male prisoners in Ramon prison affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Islamic Jihad and Hamas have refused to go out for recreation time in support of the women prisoners in HaSharon. After the solidarity action in Ramon prison, the prison administration ordered all sections closed. The prisoners in Ramon are also struggling against intensified repression, especially after a new director was appointed, issuing threats of escalation against the leadership of the prisoners’ movement. This director has also pledged to “restore the conditions of the prison to 2008,” meaning an attempt to roll back important achievements of the prisoners’ struggle.