Palestinian prisoners’ institutions, including the Prisoners’ Affairs Commission, Palestinian Prisoners’ Society, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association and Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, issued the following report for May 2019 on 16 June. English translation by Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network: 

Photo for illustrative purposes. Credit: ActiveStills.org/Oren Ziv

In May 2019, Israeli occupation forces arrested 421 Palestinians, including 78 children and 6 women. The Israeli occupation authorities seized 145 Palestinians from the city of Jerusalem, 59 from Ramallah governorate, 60 from al-Khalil governorate, 30 from Jenin governorate, 21 from Bethlehem governorate, 32 from Nablus governorate, 13 from Tulkarem governorate, 19 from Qalqilya governorate, 8 from Tubas governorate, 8 from Salfit governorate, 14 from Jericho governorate and 12 from the Gaza Strip.

The number of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails reached 5500 at the end of May, including 43 women. The number of imprisoned children in Israeli jails reached approximately 220.

The following summary highlights the realities faced by the detainees in prisons and detention centers and the most prominent actions by the occupation authorities during the month of May:

Hunger Strikes During May 2019

Several prisoners continued their hunger strikes against administrative detention during May 2019, including the prisoner Hassan al-Aweiwi, who began his strike in April and experienced significant deterioration of his health. He faced clear intransigence by the occupation authorities in refusing to meet his demands and end his administrative detention.

Palestinian prisoners’ institutions documented the retaliation by the Israeli occupation prison administration against al-Aweiwi since he launched his strike, including isolation, denial of family visits and frequent transfer from one detention center to another as well as to civilian hospitals.

Al-Aweiwi is 35 years old, married wth three children. He was previously arrested several times, most recently on 15 January 2019.

Bassam Abu Akkar, from Aida camp in Bethlehem, went on hunger strike on 21 May, rejecting his administrative detention after two consecutive years. He ended his strike after reaching an agreement to limit his administrative detention

Abu Akkar, a leader of the prisoners’ movement, spent a total of 24 and one-half years in Israeli prison, between sentences and administrative detention. He has been detained without charge or trial since 27 July 2017; he is married with seven children.

Among the prisoners who took part in hunger strikes during the month of may were Ahmed Hroub from al-Khalil governorate, Thaer Badr from Beit Liqya, the wounded Moataz Abidu from al-Khalil and Murad Malisha from Jenin.

Medical Neglect

Over 750 prisoners continue to suffer from a policy of medical neglect by the Israeli prison administration, which is systematically used as a means of retaliation and pressure.

The medical situation for the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails is becoming more serious with every wave of escalation by the prison administration, the latest of which was the series of restrictive measures that followed the publication of the recommendations of the committee formed by the occupation minister Gilad Erdan to exert increased pressure on the prisoners in September 2018.

These restrictions included an escalation of the policy of medical neglect against sick and wounded prisoners, which has led to increased suffering from the effects of their illnesses, even after their release.

The occupation uses medical neglect as a means of torture and pressure on detainees to extract confessions from them or attempt to break their morale and increase their suffering in prisons. This medical neglect is institutionalized in the prison system and the detention centers. For example, prison clinics lack specialized medical staff or equipment to perform necessary tests to address problems raised by the prisoners. In the event a prisoner’s health worsens, he or she is transferred to the Ramle prison clinic, which is not significantly different from the prison clinics in terms of the level of medical care available. However, the Ramle clinic focuses on prisoners with permanent disabilities, severe medical deterioration or terminal illnesses.

There are currently 15 sick prisoners being held at the Ramle prison clinic in inhumane and inappropriate conditions. In particularly difficult cases, prisoners are transferred to Israeli civilian hospitals especially for required tests.

The occupation delays the treatment of ill prisoners, whether in the provision of medication or tests required to diagnose a patient’s condition, which can exacerbate their conditions and lead to the emergence of new health problems.

Summer is a season of suffering for imprisoned Palestinians

The Israeli occupation authorities make all of the details of the lives of the Palestinian detainees; even changes in the seasons bring more suffering. As the temperature increases, so too does the humidity and the lack of ventilation in Israeli prisons and detention centers. The suffering of the prisoners is doubled, especially in the desert or near the coast. Some prisons suffer from insect infestations or unpleasant odors and the prison administration often refuses to install air conditioners or other cooling equipment in the prisons. Sometimes, cold water is deliberately cut or prisoners in isolation are denied cold water.

According to the monitoring of the prisoners’ associations, the prisoners’ complaints are continuing to rise along with the temperature and humidity, especially at Saba, Nafha, Ramon and the Negev desert prison (especially the tent sections), in Damon prison (where the women prisoners are held), in Ramle-Nitsan in the underground sections and in Shata and Gilboa, where humidity is high.

60,000 NIS ($16,627 USD) in fines imposed on Palestinian child prisoners in Ofer

In May, Israeli occupation courts imposed prison sentences on a number of child prisoners held in the Ofer military prisons, in addition to large fines amounting to more than 60,000 NIS ($16,627 USD). In May 2019, 43 child prisoners were transferred to Ofer prison; 22 were seized from their homes, 12 taken from the streets, seven arrested for lack of permits and two after being summoned to interrogation.

Of these children, four were arrested after being shot by Israeli occupation soldiers and nine more were beaten during their detention and taken to Israeli interrogation centers. There were 31 children sentenced in May 2019, with actual terms ranging from 31 days to 10 months.