Posts tagged Prisoner X

Hunger-striker Samer Issawi is another statistic in an unjust legal system

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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…)

As Palestinian hunger strikes come to a head, world begins to take notice

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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.

Thousands of Palestinians have taken to the streets throughout the West Bank in recent weeks, leading to violent clashes with the IDF and including (more…)

Why Israel is – and will continue – trying to keep ‘Prisoner X’ a secret

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This piece was first published on +972 Magazine.

As details about the life, work and untimely demise of ‘Prisoner X’ unravel, the most intriguing unanswered questions remain: why did Israel secretly imprisoned him and why he is dead? But the details of the story appear to be making one thing clear; Israel’s security services likely had every reason in the world to (try to) keep the affair and Ben Zygier’s identity a secret.

Like most spy stories, nothing about Prisoner X, his true identity, what he did or didn’t do for Israel’s Mossad or even how he died is known with any degree of certainty. But as various reports and accounts – mostly from Australia, but others from Israel and around the world – come out, pieces of a puzzle begin to take shape into a picture that resembles a spy thriller, possibly gone horribly wrong.

The original ABC investigative report, which revealed Ben Zygier as the highly-censored ‘Prisoner X,’ identified him as an Australian-born Jew who emigrated to Israel in his early twenties. From his age at the time he immigrated and pictures of him in an IDF uniform, it is safe to assume that he was drafted into the army soon after arriving in the country. Those details, though unconfirmed like every other part of the story, are the most reasonable (more…)

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