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14-year-old girl joins dozens of Palestinian women in Israeli prison

June 4, 2017 9:56 A.M. (Updated: June 7, 2017 4:19 P.M.)
14-year-old Malak al-Ghalith, detained on May 28, 2017
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities detained eight Palestinian women and girls over the past month, the youngest of which was 14-year-old Malak al-Ghalith from al-Jalazun refugee camp in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, according to a statement released Saturday by the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs.

Malak was detained on May 28 at Israel’s Qalandiya military checkpoint for allegedly attempting to carry out a stabbing attack. Israeli forces pepper-sprayed the young girl before locking her inside a container for two hours, where Israeli soldiers insulted, cursed, and laughed at her while taking pictures of her, according to lawyers for the committee Hanan al-Khatib and Hiba Masalha.

The lawyers reported that Malak was interrogated for four hours before being transferred to Israel’s HaSharon prison.

Some 56 Palestinian women are currently being imprisoned by Israel, according to the committee's statement. However, prisoners' rights group Addameer said that there were 61 Palestinian women and girls in Israeli custody as of April.

The committee’s statement highlighted that among the 56 female prisoners, nine were minors, though the statement only named Malak and seven other girls, identified as Iman Ali, Marah Jueideh, Luma al-Bakri, Amal Kabha, Manar Shweiki, Hadiyyeh Ereinat, and Malak Salman.

Malak was also among eight Palestinian women to be detained over the past month alone. The committee identified six of the others as Ibtisam Eid Moussa, 59, from Gaza City; Suzan Abu Qutaiba, 32, from Yatta in the southern occupied West Bank; Ahlam Maloukh, 22, from Hebron in the southern West Bank; Sujoud Riman from Nablus in the northern West Bank; Dina Iskafi from Hebron; and Asia Kaabneh from Nablus.

Al-Khatib and Sawalha added that “brutal sentences” were also recently issued by Israel against Palestinian women and girls, including a 13-year prison sentence for Nurhan Awwad, who was 16 years old when she was detained after being shot and critically injured -- alongside her 14-year-old cousin who was killed.

The two lawyers also noted that Israa Jaabis, 32, was sentenced to 11 years in prison and 19-year-old Shurouq Duwayyat was sentenced to 16 years in prison.

According to Addameer, some 10,000 Palestinian women and girls have been detained by Israeli forces over the past 45 years.

In 2015 alone, Israeli forces detained 106 Palestinian women and girls, which according to the group represented a 70 percent increase compared to detention numbers in 2013.

Since a wave of political unrest spread across the occupied Palestinian territory in October 2015, leading to Israeli forces carrying out mass detention campaigns, the number of Palestinian women and girls detained by Israeli forces has risen sharply.

Addameer has also reported on the treatment of Palestinian women prisoners by Israeli prison authorities, stating that the majority of Palestinian women detainees are subjected to "psychological torture" and "ill-treatment" by Israeli authorities, including "various forms of sexual violence that occur such as beatings, insults, threats, body searches, and sexually explicit harassment.”

“These techniques of torture and ill-treatment are used not only as means to intimidate Palestinian women detainees but also as tools to humiliate Palestinian women and coerce them into giving confessions,” the group stated.

Most of the Palestinian women detained by Israeli forces are held in HaSharon or Damon prison, both located outside of the 1967 occupied Palestinian territory, in direct violation of international law that states that an occupying power must hold detainees within the occupied territory.

A mass 40-day hunger strike that ended in Israeli prisons last month reportedly resulted in a number of agreements being reached between Palestinian prisoners and Israeli authorities, including an agreement to gather all female Palestinian prisoners in HaSharon prison.

According to the prisoners' committee, arrangements will also be made for visits from the husbands and children of Palestinian women held in Israeli prison, female prisoners will be allowed to receive materials for handicrafts, and a special system will be introduced for their transportation from prison to courts. The Israel Prison Service has so far not confirmed any agreements were reached.
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