Posts tagged Palestinian prisoners
Samer Issawi, the Palestinian prisoner who has been on an intermittent hunger strike for over 200 days, had his day in court on Thursday. According to the sentence handed down by the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, one might ostensibly believe that Issawi would be released on March 6, when his prison term is completed. But Samer Issawi is Palestinian, and therefore subject to a multi-layered legal system in which his fate is not determined by civilian judges, but rather by three IDF officers.
Before Israel agreed to release 1,027 Palestinians in exchange for captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, the army quietly modified Article 186 to Military Order 1651. Article 186 codifies special military tribunals that have the power to cancel early releases. The panels operate using secret evidence and do not even reveal to Palestinians what they are accused of.
So while according to Thursday’s sentencing hearing in the Magistrate’s Court Issawi is to be released within weeks, he will likely (more…)
All anyone in Israel has spoken about for the past week is ‘Prisoner X,’ the Jewish-Israeli-Australian Mossad agent held secretly by his own country, who supposedly took his own life in prison two years ago. But only a few miles from Israeli newsrooms in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, outrage over a different type of prisoner in Israeli jails has been mounting for months and is coming to a head.
Four Palestinian men in Israeli prisons are currently in the late stages of prolonged hunger strikes protesting the legal basis of their imprisonment: administrative detention and military committee sentencing decisions based on secret evidence. Both amount to imprisonment without knowledge of what they are accused and without the right to a trial.
In recent days, at least one of the prisoners reportedly intensified his hunger strike, refusing all medical treatment, including vitamins and minerals. Their health is said to be deteriorating.
Less than three weeks after at least 1,400 Palestinians in Israeli prisons launched a widespread hunger strike, Israeli Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch on Thursday made several astounding admissions regarding Israel’s use of administrative detention. In private meetings with security officials, Aharonovitch called for reducing Israel’s use of the practice, applying it “only if there is a need and not in all cases,” according to a Haaretz report.
He was in effect admitting that the practice is being used even when it is not necessary, assuming it is ever necessary. Furthermore he seemed to be conceding that Israel uses administrative detention instead of carrying out thorough criminal or intelligence investigations.
In a presentation to Israel’s Defense Ministry, Justice Ministry, the IDF, Shin Bet and Prison Service, Aharonovitch recommended that authorities “exhaust investigations and evidence collections” in order to allow the application of criminal proceedings against Palestinian arrestees, something one shouldn’t have to advocate in a democracy.
Following the announcement of a prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hamas Tuesday night, Israeli television displayed a split screen showing crowds simultaneously dancing in both Jerusalem and Gaza City. One anchor on Channel 2 News commented, “It’s not often that you see people celebrating the same deal in Israel and Gaza.”
It would be wrong and skewed to suggest that the primary goal in reaching the prisoner exchange deal was driven by any motivation greater than the actual release of prisoners. But after five years of negotiations and amid the PA’s UN bid, the timing and alternative considerations involved are significant and potentially of great consequence.
As with everything in the Middle East, there is more to the prisoner exchange deal than what is immediately obvious. In the midst of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s statehood bid in the United Nations, it is in the interest of both Israel and Hamas to undermine the PA president, something that was likely accomplished Tuesday.
Although Abbas’s bid for statehood is a bold move that excites Palestinians, most are aware that the diplomatic maneuver is unlikely to deliver any of the tangible results Palestinians demand, the least of which is technical statehood.
Up until today, Hamas has failed to actually improve the lives of Palestinians, both in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Although its resistance ideology has preserved its credibility, electorates (more…)