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Report: Palestinian women held in Israeli prison subjected to harsh sanctions

July 1, 2017 9:34 P.M. (Updated: July 6, 2017 7:47 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli authorities have been imposing harsh sanctions on Palestinian women held in Israel’s Damon prison, including being denied family visitation, access to the prison commissary, as well as being placed in solitary confinement and subjected to fines, Ramallah-based news outlet Wattan TV reported Thursday.

Taghreed Jahshan, an attorney with the Women’s Organization for Political Prisoners, visited the women prisoners and said that they have been subject to sanctions for one week, since 22 June, according to a translation of Wattan’s report by Palestinian prisoners’ solidarity network Samidoun.

One of the prisoners reported to be held in solitary confinement was 39-year-old Shirin Issawi, a lawyer serving a four-year prison term who was accused of helping her clients' families support them financially in prison and is also the sister of prisoner Samer Issawi, according to Samidoun.

Dalal Abu Hawa, 39, serving a one-year prison sentence, was also reportedly placed in solitary confinement.

According to Wattan, both Issawi and Dawa were transferred from Damon prison to solitary confinement cells in al-Jalama prison due to the lack of isolation rooms in Damon.

The report quoted former prisoner Haifa Abu Sbeih as saying that another prisoner in Damon, Sabah Faraun, was placed in solitary confinement as well, shortly after her administrative detention -- indefinitely renewable periods of internment without charge or trial -- was extended for four additional months.

Abu Sbeih told Wattan TV that some of the women in Damon were also being fined between 200-700 shekels ($57-200), while others had electronic devices confiscated.

She also said that 20-year-old prisoner in Ansam Shawahneh has not been permitted to receive family visits for more than four months.

Shawahneh, who was accused of attempting to stab an Israeli soldier, was reportedly told at an Israeli military court session on June 20 that she would be sentenced to four to five years in prison, “pending approval by the soldier in question,” Samidoun wrote. Citing a report from Asra media, members of Shawahneh’s family strongly objected to the terms of the sentencing based on the individual soldier’s wishes.

A spokesperson for the Israeli Prison Service did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the reports.

Samidoun also highlighted in its report the case of Zeinab Ankoush, 46, who was detained more than a week ago after her 18-year-old son Adel was shot dead by Israeli forces in occupied East Jerusalem, after he and two other young Palestinians carried out an attack that left one Israeli border police officer dead.

At the time of her detention, Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri claimed that Ankoush “is suspected to be a supporter of a terrorist group and suspected for planning to conduct a crime.” According to Samidoun, she was brought before a court on Thursday and stands accused of “incitement” after speaking out about the death of her child.

Meanwhile, her husband, Adel’s father Hassan Ankoush, was also detained by the Israeli army in a predawn raid Thursday.

According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, of the 6,200 Palestinians held in Israeli prisoners as of May, 56 were women or girls. Of these, 23 are being held in Damon, according to Samidoun, while the majority of other female Palestinian prisoners are held in HaSharon prison.

Addameer has reported on the mistreatment of Palestinian women by Israeli prison authorities, stating that the majority of Palestinian women detainees were 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.

“While Israel’s prison authorities and military forces recruit women soldiers to detain, and accompany women prisoners during transfers, the female soldiers responsible for these procedures are no less violent towards Palestinian detainees than their male counterparts,” the group has said.
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