Threats of rape, stripping of clothes, starvation, severe beating, and solitary confinement
Urgent international protection is needed to prevent a catastrophe.
Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK (AOHR UK) stressed that the testimonies of the freed prisoners, including women and children, on the brutality of the occupation towards everyone in prisons raise alarms and calls for urgent action to save the Palestinian prisoners held by barbaric gangs that violate all international laws.
About 250 Palestinian prisoners were released as part of an exchange deal over the past six days of the truce starting on November 24, 2023, including 71 women and 169 children. The freed prisoners recounted terrifying violations they faced in prison daily, the severity of which has doubled since the beginning of the extermination war on Gaza by the occupation on October 07, 2023.
Lama Khater, the freed prisoner from Damon Prison said that she was taken to the investigation room while being handcuffed and blindfolded. She was interrogated by an intelligence officer who threatened to rape her along with 20 soldiers, who he said were in the room at the time of the investigation. He also threatened to burn and kill her children and said that he would kill 50,000 more Palestinian children to feel satisfied. Lama added that all the female prisoners had been beaten repeatedly since October 7. They were only allowed to leave their cells except for 15 minuets a day to use the bathroom, and sometimes they were completely prevented from going there.
Khater pointed out that there are at least 10 female prisoners from the Gaza Strip who were arrested two days before the truce. She stated that they were the most ones humiliated, and subjected to psychological and physical torture. They were arrested after separating them from their children during the displacement route via Salah El-Din Street. Inside the prison, the headscarves of these female prisoners were removed by force and they were given different uniforms than the rest of the female prisoners.
Freed female prisoner, Ahed Tamimi, confirmed the presence of female prisoners from the Gaza Strip and highlighted their suffering, adding that she was also threatened with the killing of her prisoner father if she spoke to the media of the violations inside the prison.
As for Hanadi Al-Halawani, she said that the female prisoners “are living a nightmare away from the eyes of the world,”. She recounted her suffering and the suffering of the other female detainees as well.
Al-Halwani was subjected to electric shocks and severe beatings all over her body. She was both verbally and physically abused and humiliated. Inside prison they spat on her face, threw garbage at her, threatened her with rape and sexually harassed her, in addition to verbally insulting her.
She added that the occupation treated them inhumanely. Some of them were pregnant, and others had just undergone surgical operations, yet they still faced physical and psychological abuse, in addition to the repeated raids on the cells, firing tear gas bombs and depriving them of all the rights they gained after yeas of striking in prisons.
Al-Halwani pointed out to the significant increase in the number of new prisoners who were admitted to the prison, resulting in overcrowding in the cells, and reduction of the resources, including clothing, food, and time outside the cells to go to the bathroom. She added that some prisoners were completely prevented from going to the bathroom for several days and all prisoners faced complete isolation.
In addition to the testimonies of the female prisoners, the freed children also reported facing horrific abuse. They emphasised that they, along with all other prisoners, were subjected to constant beatings, which led to the death of 6 prisoners since the events of October 07. They are also subjected to stripping, starvation, and medical negligence, in addition to being verbally insulted by the occupation soldiers, who also threatened them with re-arrest if they spoke about the violations they faced in prison.
Prior to releasing the prisoners, the occupation raided their homes and threatened their families with arrest if they celebrated the release of their family members. In addition to this, press crews were kicked out, guests were dispersed, and sweet boxes were confiscated by the occupation forces.
It is worth noting the ongoing arrest campaigns of the occupation, as the number of those arrested during the days of the truce, including women and children, is much higher than those released in exchange deals. These violations will continue as long as the international community remains silent, and the occupation find no deterrence.
AOHR UK denounced the lack of Western media coverage of the abuse and repression in prisons of the Palestinians inside Israeli prisons despite the killing of 6 prisoners in prisons. Rather, it shifted all its focus on the Israeli hostages in the Gaza Strip. The western media also referred to the age and sex of the children and women who were released from the Israeli side, whereas the released Palestinian women and children are referred to only as prisoners.
AOHR UK stressed the need for all international bodies to take urgent measures to protect the prisoners, since Itamar Ben Gvir has drawn up a policy of abusing prisoners since he assumed his position, and has personally supervised repressive of Palestinians in prisons, including beatings and spraying their cells with gas. This policy would result in the killing of more victims should the international community remained silent and did not act immediately to prevent a catastrophe from happening.