Update on the situation of Palestinian women prisoners

Imprisoned Palestinian women are continuing to mobilize to defend their rights against attacks by Israeli occupation forces. According to reports from Palestine, the mobilization of the women prisoners achieved its first demand, of the release of their representatives from isolation. Mona Qaadan and Shorouq Dwayyat have been returned to Damon prison from Gilboa, where they were held in isolation; and Marah Bakir will reportedly be returned shortly to Damon from the Jalameh interrogation center. However, the women prisoners are continuing to fight for their demands for family visits and phone calls and to end the attacks by repressive forces.

Click here to write a letter to the International Committee of the Red Cross to demand the ICRC take action to defend Palestinian women prisoners.

The Palestinian prisoners’ movement insisted on the release of the three women from isolation as a condition to begin a dialogue on the situation of the Palestinian women prisoners, as well as the lifting of the unjust penalties against them. However, all of these require ongoing vigilance and action, as the most recent attacks came only days after the women extracted a promise to have phone calls with their families after being deprived of family visits.

The women prisoners are continuing to return their meals in protest of the assaults over the past several days by repressive forces and the isolation of Bakir, Dwayyat and Qaadan. The women prisoners were subjected to disciplinary hearings in absentia, and they were ordered deprived of family visits and the “canteen” (prison store) for one month — even though they have already been collectively denied family visits for three months, one of the major reasons they launched their protest. Maysoon Musa al-Jabali, Nourhan Awwad, Shorouq Dwayyat, Malak Salman and Marah Bakir were ordered doubly penalized and fined.

The prison administration also threatened to abolish the women prisoners’ representation, which handles matters of negotiation and dealing with the administration. Marah Bakir represents the women prisoners, and Shorouq Dwayyat is her deputy. They threatened to classify them as “civil” prisoners rather than “security” prisoners, an attempt to strip them of what is essentially their designation as political prisoners — undoubtedly, without the rights and benefits enjoyed by Israeli civil prisoners.

The women prisoners have been prevented from leaving their rooms, denied showers for three days and prevented from accompanying one another during visits to the prison clinic or hospital. They have also been repeatedly threatened with tear gas whenever they object to any of the measures imposed upon them.

Palestinian lawyer Hanan al-Khatib visited the women prisoners in Damon prison, and said after her meetings: “The women prisoners are in high spirits despite the difficult circumstances they have lived through. They are reassured by the widespread support for them. The prisoners are standing together with one another and will not give up the demand to return their three comrades subjected to solitary confinement. The women prisoners salute everyone who is standing with them. The support of the Palestinian people and communication with their families only increases their resolve and steadfastness.”

Palestinian resistance forces urged continued support for the women prisoners and warned against attempts to cover up the ongoing crimes against them. The leadership of Hamas prisoners issued a statement, warning that “The administration of the occupation prisons, by returning the isolated imprisoned sisters to their rooms and restoring their conditions to what they were prior, is trying to cover up its heinous crimes and ugly actions in an attempt prevent the movement of the street and the resistance in response.”

The Prison Branch of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine called for a “state of public alert in support” of the women prisoners, calling for protest, action and confrontation of the settlers and the occupation army to stand with the women prisoners and support their steadfastness.

Click here to write a letter to the International Committee of the Red Cross to demand the ICRC take action to defend Palestinian women prisoners.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network urges the strongest campaign of international solidarity with these imprisoned Palestinian women, on the front lines in the struggle for justice and liberation in Palestine. Learn more about Palestinian women prisoners and how you and your organization can support their struggle at the Aseerat campaign page.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has a responsibility to act to safeguard these Palestinian women prisoners — and all imprisoned Palestinians — from the retaliatory actions and collective punishment imposed by the Israeli occupation. We call on the ICRC to act to protect Palestinian women from attack; secure family visits for imprisoned Palestinian women; secure the implementation of phone calls to family members for imprisoned Palestinian women; and uphold the rights of the women prisoners.  Click here to write a letter to the International Committee of the Red Cross to demand the ICRC take action to defend Palestinian women prisoners.