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3 Palestinians face charges in Israeli court for 'assaulting' Israeli prison officials

Feb. 3, 2017 6:20 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 14, 2017 3:15 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- A court session was held on Friday in the Israeli magistrate's court in Beersheba over three Palestinian prisoners who stand accused of assaulting two Israeli prison officials during Israeli raids in Nafha and Ktziot prisons.

According to Yousif Nanasra, a lawyer for the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, the Israeli court prosecuted Palestinian prisoners Khalid al-Silawi and brothers Ahmad Nasser and Mahmoud Nasser.

Nanasra said in a statement that al-Silawi, from the besieged Gaza Strip and sentenced to 18 years in Israeli prison, allegedly stabbed an Israeli prison officer on Wednesday with a sharp tool in Nafha prison in response to Messada officers, the “takeover” unit of the Israel Prison Service (IPS) “violently raiding” section 1 of the prison and reportedly destroying their personal belongings.

Al-Silawi told Nasasra that at least 15 Israeli prison officials of the Messada unit assaulted him, leaving bruises on his body and fractions in his chest.

Al-Silawi also noted that IPS officials did not provide medical care, despite his condition.

Israeli news sites reported at the time of the alleged stabbing that a Palestinian prisoner affiliated with the Hamas movement “attacked an Israeli prison warden with a sharp tool,” causing the warden to suffer from a light injury.

Palestinian Committee of Prisoners' Affairs head Issa Qaraqe said in a statement that immediately following the incident, IPS officials began conducting punitive procedures “humiliating Palestinian prisoners.”

Qaraqe said IPS officials conducted an “unprecedented raid” in Section 1 of Nafha, forcing the Palestinian prisoners to fully undress, leading them outside of the section “while naked in the cold weather, also searching and destroying their personal belongings and cutting the electricity off.”

Qaraqe called the situation at the time in Nafha “unbearable,” and said that the stabbing was a Palestinian prisoner “reacting to these [common] procedures and trying to defend himself.”

Meanwhile, Ahmad Nasser, who is from the village of Madama in Nablus and is serving a two-year sentence in Ktziot prison, told Nanasra that at least 30 Israeli prison officials raided section 30 of the prison, and assaulted him without any clear reason.

He added that they had beaten him on his head, causing him to faint. He said IPS officials also initially refused him medical care until he was taken to Soroka hospital in Beer Sheba.

He emphasized that Israeli forces treated him “very badly” and also reported being assaulted by Israeli forces while en route to the hospital.

Ahmad’s brother, Mahmoud Nasser, sentenced to five years in prison and also currently held in Ktziot prison, told Nanasra that Israeli forces had raided section 16 and fired sound bombs and used pepper spray on the prisoners.

He added that he was also assaulted by some 30 Israeli prison officers, and was “forced to hit” one of the prison officers with a razor blade in response to the violent raid.

He added that he was still suffering from the assault, which he said caused several parts of his body to swell, and noted that another Palestinian prisoner Saleh Attah from Ramallah was also assaulted and suffered from fractions in his hand and an injury on his face. Mahmoud Nasser said Attah was also left without any medical treatment.

IPS officials stepped up punitive measures against Palestinian prisoners in the Ktziot detention center on Thursday, after reports said that a Palestinian prisoner allegedly attacked an Israeli warden with a razor blade.

Qaraqe told Ma’an at the time that IPS forces raided Sections 13, 14, 15, and 16 of Ktziot looking for the perpetrator.

He added that IPS imposed collective punishment measures on the Palestinian prisoners, cutting off electricity and using pepper spray against the prisoners in all the raided sections.

An IPS spokesperson confirmed to Ma’an at the time that an attack had taken place against a warden in Ktziot, but could not immediately provide further details.

Meanwhile, Hebrew-language news sites reported that IPS had transferred 40 Palestinian prisoners from Ktziot and Nafha to other prisons on Thursday, adding that prisoners had attempted to prevent the transfer process.

On Friday, the leadership of the Hamas movement and IPS reportedly reached an agreement to “stop escalations” against Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons, according to Qaraqe.

Qaraqe said in a statement that the agreement stated that “escalations” in Israeli prisons “will be immediately halted,” all prisoners who were transferred during raids will be moved back to their original sections during next week, all prisoners held in solitary confinement will be returned to their communal cells, and that Messada officers, the “takeover” unit of the IPS, will not be allowed to enter prisoners’ cells.
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