Thousands of Palestinian Detainees Imprisoned in Inhuman and Life-Threatening Conditions

Special Report - May 19, 2002
Following the most recent Israeli invasion of Palestinian cities that began on March 29, 2002, the Israeli military has undertaken a widespread campaign of arbitrary, mass arrest of Palestinian civilians. Addameer has been following cases of those arrested and detained through visits to detention camps and prisons, as well as collecting statements from those who have been released. The conditions that detainees face violate every principle of international law and present a real threat to the lives of detainees. Addameer has collected many affidavits that reveal a conscious process of torture and maltreatment to which thousands of detainees have been exposed. The information in this report is based upon affidavits from detainees and lawyers who have visited these detention camps and prisons (see selected case studies below).
Addameer estimates that at least 5000 Palestinians have been arrested since the 29 March. From these arrests, currently between 1500-2000 people remain in detention camps. Around 1000 of these detainees have received administrative detention orders, meaning they are detained without charge for periods up to 6 months.
Ofer Detention Camp
Detainees are held in various Israeli military camps around the West Bank during their interrogation. The main camp is Ofer Detention Camp, located near Ramallah in a closed military zone.
Currently around 1200 Palestinians remain detained in Ofer. Detainees in Ofer are held in tents distributed in 10 sections. Each section contains four tents that hold 25-30 people. The conditions in Ofer are extremely poor and present a threat to the life of the detainees. This includes the following:
  • Detainees are subject to severe physical abuse during arrest, periods of transfer to interrogation, meeting with lawyers or to other prisons. One detainee, currently detained in Ofer, provided a sworn affidavit to Addameer that soldiers were intending to kill him during his arrest (see Case Study 1 below). The abuse to which detainees are exposed include beating with clubs and fists, being severely kicked as well as verbal abuse and threats. Addameer has received a sworn affidavit from one detainee who was subject to attempted rape during transfer (see Case Study 2 below).
  • Many detainees were injured during their arrest or suffer from chronic illnesses for which little or no medical attention has been provided (See Case Study 3). Addameer was informed by one detainee who has a leg injury that when he went to the clinic he was given some tablets. After returning to his tent he was about to take the tablet but when he checked the expiry date he discovered that the medicine was two years over its expiry date. He gave the medicine to the Red Cross who informed the administration of the military camp. Following this incident the clinic is now giving detainees medicine in a white box with no expiry dates marked.
  • The food is not fit for human consumption and is provided in very small quantities. Until 13 May, the detainees were not provided with any hot meals or beverages. Instead, the detainees were given frozen schnitzels which they had to place in the sun to defrost. They were provided with powdered coffee and tea bags and told to take hot water from the bathroom in order to make drinks. Each 10 prisoners were provided 1-2 cucumbers and a couple of pieces of fruit. A small tub of yoghurt was also given to each 10 prisoners. Detainees who suffer from chronic diseases such as diabetes and blood pressure problems were not given any special food, so other detainees gave them their food portions in order to ensure an adequate diet for these sick detainees. Following the 13 May, detainees were provided with hot meals but the quantity and quality of this food is unknown.
  • The detainees are not provided with clean clothes or adequate cleaning supplies. The clothes of many prisoners remain bloodied from injuries sustained during their arrest. Each section (around 120 detainees) is provided with one bar of soap each day. On Friday and Saturday they are not provided with any soap. Each section has only three showers for the 120 detainees and hot water is not always available.
  • The detainees are completely isolated from the outside world. They have absolutely no access to books, TV, radio or newspapers and family visits are completely forbidden. The Israeli military has refused to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to enter books, clothes and other personal items.
  • There is no electricity available for the detainees and movement is forbidden within a section following nightfall.
  • Lawyers attempting to represent the detainees are faced with severe restrictions on their movement and access to their clients. Detainees are brought to meet their lawyers with their hands tied and sometimes their eyes blindfolded. They face trial in a military court which is presided over by a military judge and is often held in the middle of the night. These trials take place on the basis of “secret evidence” which neither the detainee or their lawyer has access to. The detainees often face this court with no legal representation because lawyers were not permitted into the court or informed of the trial. Some lawyers have been forced to wait outside the military camp for hours and were allowed in only when the trial has been completed. Because of these illegal restrictions on lawyers, and due to the fact that lawyers have been exposed to invasive body searches before entering the court, lawyers from Palestinian human rights organizations and the Palestinian Bar Association are discussing steps including the option of boycotting Israeli military courts until they are allowed free access to their clients in accordance with international law.
  • Detainees are given administrative detention (a 3-6 month period of detention without charge or fair trial) on the basis of a so-called “secret file” presented to the military judge by the Israeli General Intelligence Service (Shin Bet). Detainees are kept in limbo for weeks following their interrogation while they wait for a military court to pass a sentence on them. According to Israeli law, administrative detainees are supposed to have access to books, radio, clothes, weekly family visits and other rights which are not provided to them by the Ofer military administration.
Ketziot Desert Prison (Ansar)
On 12 April, the Israeli government re-opened Ketziot, a notorious prison camp in the Negev desert. This prison was used during the first Intifada and was renowned for its inhuman conditions. Fifty-six prisoners from Megiddo Prison were transferred to Ketziot following its re-opening. In addition, hundreds of detainees from Israeli detention camps who have received administrative detention orders have also been transferred there in recent weeks. Currently around 500 detainees are incarcerated in Ketziot of which 300 have been given administrative detention orders. It should be noted that in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which forbids transfer of prisoners outside occupied territories, Ketziot is located outside the West Bank. Some of the severe violations that detainees in Ketziot face are as follows:
  • Prisoners are kept in old tents and are forced to sleep on thin sponge-mattresses only a few centimeters thick.
  • For the first two weeks following the opening of Ketziot, there was no hot food or kitchen available for detainees and, as in Ofer, they were provided with frozen food of poor quality and small quantity.
  • Detainees in Ketziot are provided with one bar of soap each week for 20 detainees. There is no other cleaning equipment available to the detainees.
  • Several detainees in Ketziot have serious medical conditions and are not provided with adequate medical services or medications. Detainees report that when they go to the clinic they are not given medicines and doctors are sometimes several days late in visiting patients. One detainee, B., told Addameer that he fell unconscious and it took four hours before he received medical attention.
  • As with all Israeli detention camps and prisons, detainees are not permitted family visits.
Addameer stresses that the current situation facing detainees and their lawyers is the most grave witnessed since the beginning of the Intifada. These detainees are being held as hostages to the political process in the most degrading and inhuman conditions. Israeli practices towards Palestinian detainees violate a myriad of international human rights norms and resolutions. Addameer calls upon all international organizations and concerned individuals to demand the unconditional and immediate release of all Palestinian political detainees. Addameer also calls on the ICRC to ensure that the Israeli government allows it to fulfill its mandate in protecting detainees.
Case Studies
Case Study 1:
Detainee G., Sworn Affidavit given to Addameer lawyer on 12 May, 2002 at Ofer Detention Camp
I was arrested from my house on 4 April, 2002 at approximately 11am. The soldiers acted well and took me to the Luluat Al Manara Buiding in Ramallah.
There, they took me to the ground floor and kept me there until 8:30pm. The whole time I was alone with the soldiers. Two soldiers then came and untied my hands and wanted to give me food and cigarettes.
At around 12pm, they tied my hands and blindfolded me. I heard one of the soldiers ask, “What’s his status?” and the answer, “There is blood on his hands.” One of them beat me on my left leg with a club. I felt as though my leg had broken and I started screaming and he began to beat me heavily with the club. After that the soldier left.
After approximately 10 minutes, they began to hit me again. They repeated this around seven or eight times. Then one soldier arrived and began to strangle me with an old sheet while the other soldiers kicked me all over my body especially in the chest and the kidney area. They did this 4 or 5 times, and one time I passed out. When they hit me on the head I gained consciousness again.
At one point another soldier came, he seemed new, and he asked the soldiers why they were beating me. They replied “He has blood on his hands.” This soldier began to beat me hysterically and loaded a gun that he was carrying and pointed it at my head. One of the soldiers yelled, “Don’t do it” and dragged him away with force. Then the soldier hit me on the head with the gun. He repeated this sequence several times.
I was kept in this situation until approximately 8:15pm. I heard one of the soldiers say they had found many people in another building and a large number of soldiers left and a small number remained with me.
I heard one of them say, “How about we kill him?” Another soldier replied, “It’s better if we smash his skull and we should make sure that the nurse is here.”
At this moment a bus arrived and soldiers took me to the bus before they could kill me. The soldiers had to carry me so that I could get into the bus. The bus took me to Ofer Detention Camp next to Beitunia. This is what happened to me when I was arrested.
Case Study 2:
Detainee A., Sworn Affidavit given on 14/5/2002 to Addameer lawyer.
A. had been sentenced to 9 months imprisonment and was incarcerated in Nafha prison. On 28 April he was brought to Ofer Military Camp because he had an appeal court in the nearby Beit El settlement. He arrived at 10pm and an officer and police man took him behind a caravan. The police officer was wearing gloves and he asked me to take off my pants. He was shouting, “I will do you”. I refused to let him take off my pants. So the officer told me to take off my pants and T-shirt. He tied my hands with handcuffs behind my back and asked the police man to go. He put Vaseline on the gloves and he tried to take off my pants. I started to shout. He started to beat and hit me severely. I fell on the ground. Another officer came and the officer who tried to rape me claimed that I attacked him. I told the other officer what happened. The officer asked me not to talk about what happened. My hand was broken from the beatings and the kicking and I received a medical report. There are bruises on my body and back. I told the Red Cross who made a report. The next day the deputy head of Ofer Military Camp came and told me there is an investigation and a committee to investigate the case.
Case Study 3:
Detainee A., Sworn Affidavit Given to Addameer lawyer on 14/5/2002
I was arrested on 31 March on Sunday from Ramallah near the Cairo Amman Bank at 11am. As I came down from the Taboun building I was wounded by Israeli snipers who were nearby. I was hit in the kidney area on the left side of my body with a 250-bullet. For 2 ½ to 3 hours I was lying on the ground bleeding. Some of the people with me called an ambulance but it couldn’t reach me because the whole place was filled with tanks. The people with me carried me to a nearby house. An hour later, Israeli soldiers came into the house to search it. They took me in an armored personnel carrier (APC) and they severely beat the owners of the house. They even beat the women, girls and children.
After they put me in the APC I was transferred to Beit El Settlement from there they transferred me to Hadassah Hospital in an ambulance. I’m not sure what time it was. They put me in an emergency section with Israelis who were injured in a suicide bombing. I was still in my police uniform. In the hospital I was attacked by settlers who beat me. It took one hour for the hospital security to come and rescue me from them. I lost consciousness and I think I stayed in coma for around 48 hours.
When I gained consciousness I found my hands and legs had been cuffed. In the hospital I stayed in this situation for four days with my hands and legs cuffed to the bed. After that I was transferred to Ofer Military Detention Camp and was kept for two days still cuffed and my eyes blindfolded. They did not give me any food or drink in this time.
After that they moved me to a military hangar that was used to store vehicles. My injury was still bleeding and it took four days before a doctor came to change the bandages. The conditions inside the hangar were unsanitary so they moved me outside and the doctor started changing the bandages without cleaning or examining the injury. Later, my wound opened and it took them ten days before they replaced the stitches. All that time they gave me no medicine except for painkillers. No special food was provided for me, and I received no milk or hot meals. I spent the time sleeping on a wooden board without a mattress and only two blankets. At that time the weather was raining and very cold and this made my wound hurt severely. At Ofer I was kept 27 days in the same clothes that I had been brought in from the hospital. I wasn’t allowed to shower or clean my wound and my clothes were soaked with blood. After 19 days in Ofer I was told that I would be released. They called me for interrogation and I was interrogated for 2 days. During the interrogation they beat me on my wound which caused severe pain and opened the wound again. They stitched it again. During interrogation they beat me all the time on my wound and tried to get information from me concerning two soldiers who were killed in Ramallah at the beginning of the Intifada even though I was serving in Jericho at that time. Then they tried to pressure me while beating me on my injury to work for them and become a collaborator. After 48 hours interrogation they brought me back to the hangar. Eight days after the interrogation they released me. They brought me to the Ram area at 12 noon. I got to Qalandya checkpoint where they had informed the soldiers that I was coming. They kept me at the checkpoint until 2am the next morning while my physical condition was very bad. Finally I arrived at Ramallah and was treated in Ramallah hospital.
This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008 at 10:32 am and is filed under Addameer Press Releases 2002. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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