As the new year dawns on 2024, amid the ongoing Zionist genocide in occupied Palestine — and the heroic resistance confronting the occupation war machine — the Israeli occupation forces are continuing their war on the Palestinian detainees and the prisoners’ movement. On 1 January 2024, 23-year-old Palestinian detainee, Abdul-Rahman Bassem Al-Bahsh was assassinated by occupation forces inside the colonial Zionist Megiddo prison.
The 23-year-old Palestinian struggler had been detained since 31 May 2022, and sentenced by a Zionist military court to 35 months in occupation prisons, making him the first martyr of the Palestinian prisoners’ movement in 2024. He is the seventh Palestinian martyr inside the occupation prisons since 7 October 2023 and the beginning of the Al-Aqsa Flood. We note that this is not the complete number of Palestinian detainees who have been killed by Israeli occupation forces since 7 October; in addition to the numerous reports of horrific torture, mutilation and inhuman treatment against Palestinian detainees from Gaza, a number of Palestinian civilians kidnapped from Gaza by occupation soldiers were reported to be killed where they were held in a camp near Bir al-Saba. Their names and identities have not yet been disclosed.
This also comes amid the ongoing reports of torture and abuse within the Zionist prison system, with multiple testimonies by Palestinian prisoners, their lawyers, and especially the Palestinian women and children detainees liberated by the Palestinian resistance during the prisoner exchanges of November 2023. One of the child detainees released in November was an eyewitness to the murder of Thaer Abu Assab and spoke about the assassination immediately upon his release; reports now indicate that at least 19 occupation prison guards participated in the assassination.
This is how they killed Thaer Abu Assab, one of six Palestinian prisoners martyred in jail since 7 October: “The conditions of the prisoners are very hard. There is very little food, we are beaten, there is a martyr, he was killed in the section where I was, Thaer Abu Assab.” pic.twitter.com/KlQC4DXOEF
— Samidoun Network (@SamidounPP) November 26, 2023
The Palestinian prisoners assassinated inside Zionist jails since 7 October are:
- Omar Daraghmeh of Tubas
- Arafat Hamdan of Ramallah
- Majid Zaqoul of Gaza
- Palestinian detainee from Gaza (identity still not known)
- Abdel-Rahman Mar’i of Salfit
- Thaer Abu Assab of Qalqilya
- Abdul-Rahman al-Bahsh of Nablus
Mar’i, Daraghmeh and al-Bahsh were all assassinated inside the colonial Megiddo prison; with the assassination of al-Bahsh, the number of martyrs of the prisoners’ movement rises to 244 since the 1967 occupation. (There are greater, yet not entirely known, numbers of Palestinians detained since the beginning of the Zionist occupation in 1948, not to mention the British colonial regime that sponsored the Zionist colonization of Palestine.)
The Palestinian Prisoners’ Commission and the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society emphasized the responsibility of the Zionist regime and of the Western imperialist powers who continue to support it, arm it and provide it with impunity for its ongoing genocide: “In light of the intensity of the crimes that the occupation continues to commit against imprisoned detainees, we hold that all international powers that continue to support the occupation in its ongoing genocide against our people in Gaza and the continuing aggression against our people everywhere, including our prisoners in occupation jails, hold full responsibility for these crimes alongside the criminal occupation.”
The number of Palestinian prisoners in occupation jails has risen to over 7,000 since 7 October, including over 2,000 jailed without charge or trial under administrative detention. The prisoners are subjected to collective punishment, including the confiscation of all electrical devices, including heating plates, televisions and radios (denying them access to news of the assault and the resistance); cutting electicity to the sections throughout the day; denial of access to the courtyard; destruction of sports equipment; cutting off of all hot water; closure of the kitchen; constant room searches and raids; overcrowding of the prison rooms; and the continued escalation of administrative detention orders. Mass food poisoning has broken out in Ofer prison, and multiple released detainees reported being served uncooked or spoiled food, while their own access to the kitchen was barred. Palestinian prisoners whose sentences have ended are being ordered jailed without charge or trial rather than released.
It is important to note that the war on Palestinian prisoners did not begin on 7 October but rather has continued; prior to 7 October, the notorious fascist Itamar Ben Gvir was placed in charge of the Zionist prisons, banning family visits, ordering ongoing raids and assaults against the prisoners, and cutting food and water alongside the massive escalation in the use of administrative detention (a policy initially introduced to Palestine by the British colonial regime and then taken up by its Zionist successor).
This ongoing policy of extreme torture, abuse and isolation aims to target the Palestinian prisoners’ movement as a whole, to undermine the prisoners’ unity and steadfastness in confronting the occupation. It particularly comes as the Palestinian resistance has captured prisoners of war in order to seek a prisoner exchange to liberate the Palestinian prisoners jailed by the occupation and its imperialist allies and backers. These assassinations also shine a spotlight on the immense disparity in the treatment of Palestinian prisoners by the Zionist regime in comparison to the way in which Zionist detainees captured by the Palestinian resistance in order to secure a prisoner exchange have been treated, as witnessed before the world in the November exchanges of women and children detainees.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network mourns and salutes Abdul-Rahman al-Bahsh, and extends our condolences to his family, his loved ones, and the Palestinian people.
His assassination is part of the comprehensive aggression and genocide targeting the Palestinian people as a whole. As we organize in defense of Gaza and to end the genocide, break the siege, stand with the resistance in Palestine, Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq and across the region, and shatter the deadly alliance of Western imperialist powers like the United States, Canada, Britain, France, Germany and Italy with the Zionist regime, we must also struggle to liberate the Palestinian prisoners and confront the ongoing crimes against the Palestinian people everywhere.
Despite the immense sacrifices of the Palestinian people in Gaza confronting a genocidal regime that has massacred over 25,000 people, the resistance continues to fight to defend and liberate its land, and to defend and liberate the prisoners. The centrality of the liberation of the prisoners to the liberation of Palestine has perhaps never been more clear than at this moment.
We stand with the Palestinian people, the prisoners’ movement, the Arab people and all of the peoples of the world rising up, mobilizing and acting to bring an end to the genocide in Gaza and to liberate Palestine, from the river to the sea.