Freedom News

Palestinian detainees “have lost hands or feet”

Following the October 7 attacks, some of the first victims of Israel’s indiscriminate vengeance against the people of Gaza were thousands of Gazan workers who had permits to work in ’48 Israel, following strict screening by Israel’s Shin Bet. Since crossing was tough, they used to stay out of the strip for weeks or months. In one day, all their work permits were abruptly annulled, and the army and police started a manhunt, badly beating anyone who was caught. Thousands of workers were thrown into provisional detention centres without any legal status. In these pens, they were systematically tortured, and at least two of them died as a result. After months of suffering, those hapless workers were gradually thrown back into the killing grounds in Gaza.

Today is Palestinian Prisoner Day, and the situation has never been more dire. Since Israeli forces invaded Gaza, in addition to the mass indiscriminate killing of civilians, they have also implemented a policy of mass detention. In many areas that the army invaded, the entire male population was ordered at gunpoint to strip and carried away, sometimes paraded before Israeli journalists and soldiers. After this public exposure, Palestinian abductees were forcefully disappeared from the public eye for an unlimited period without any legal process.

After their capture, Gazan detainees are held in military bases, the most famous of them being Sde Teiman. The abducted are denied any communication with the outside world, and the army does not even disclose the names of the people it is holding. Gradually, as some of the abductees were cleared of any suspicion and sent back to Gaza, evidence began to appear about the systematic abuse and torture in these camps. Detainees are chained by the wrists and ankles all the time; they are blindfolded and held for entire days in stress positions. Basic provisions like food and hygiene are systematically prevented. Soldiers in the camps are encouraged to satisfy their sadistic fantasies towards the helpless detainees.

According to Khaled a-Nabris, a resident of Khan Yunis, “When they depopulated the city, we left on the road close to the sea, and when we reached the Israeli army checkpoint, they abducted me along with other people and took us to the corrals, where they tortured us with beatings and also let us sleep with wet blankets and did not let us drink… There are young boys who have reached severe states of anxiety from so much torture, and they send dogs to attack them when they are asleep”.

A special place in this hell is the “infirmary” department at Sde Teiman. It was established after regular Israeli hospitals refused to treat wounded or sick Palestinian abductees. Badly sick or wounded prisoners are kept chained and blindfolded. Medical treatment is rudimentary and not performed by proper specialists. Conditions there are so shocking that even one of the doctors wrote to the Health Ministry to complain. He mentioned that many detainees lost hands or feet as a result of wounds caused by excessive chaining. Apparently, the Israeli authorities are aware that this butchery is a war crime, so they have ordered that the name of the staff and the patient should not appear in any written report.

On March 7, Haaretz reported that 27 Gazan detainees died in the custody of the Israeli military. Currently, the number appears closer to 40.

Since October, Israel has also imprisoned thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank. Ad-Dameer, a prisoners’ Rights organization from Ramallah, publishes daily statistics about these prisoners. As of April 16, it reports over 9500 prisoners, among them an unprecedented 3660 administrative detainees (without charge), two hundred children and eighty women. These are added to the thousands of anonymous Palestinians from Gaza who are known to be held in pens that were set up in recent months. Thousands more have disappeared, and there is no information about their fate. The Israeli parliament has enacted a special law against “illegal combatants”, which allows for unlimited detention without trial. In December 2023, this draconian law was amended to make it even more inhumane, depriving the detainees of even the most rudimentary rights. According to an investigation by Al Mezan, a Human Rights organization based in Gaza, at least 1650 Palestinians from Gaza are held under this law.

Hundreds of Palestinian citizens of Israel have also been arrested since October 7th, most of them for minor expressions of support for Palestinian resistance on social media.

Since the Israeli state apparatus and general public devoted themselves to revenge, discarding all legal and cultural prohibitions on violent cruelty, the entire prison system for Palestinians has been converted from “law enforcement” (as distorted and racist as its laws have always been) into sites of torture and systematic executions. Soldiers, prison guards, prosecutors and judges all work in tandem to smash the human dignity of their Palestinian victims. This has nothing to do with terrorism and everything to do with sadistic treatment and the genocidal phase of Jewish supremacism.

~ Yoav Haifawi

A veteran activist for Palestinian rights, Yoav maintains the Free Haifa blog

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