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23 imprisoned Palestinian women report being assaulted by Israeli prison staff

July 5, 2017 4:14 P.M. (Updated: July 8, 2017 10:17 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- The head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners' Affairs released a statement on Wednesday saying that twenty-three Palestinian women had reported being assaulted by Israeli prison officials in Israel’s Damon prison.

Issa Qaraqe said that Palestinian lawyer Hanan al-Khatib had visited the prisoners in Damon, where she learned that special units of the Israel Prison Service (IPS) assaulted female Palestinian prisoners and imposed punitive measures against them.

Shirin Issawi, a prominent Palestinian lawyer who was sentenced to four years in prison last year, and Dalal Abu al-Hawa, both from occupied East Jerusalem, were transferred to Israel’s al-Jalama prison and placed in solitary confinement, al-Khatib had said.

She also noted that Sabah Faroun and Amani al-Hashim were placed in solitary confinement at Damon prison, according to al-Khatib.

Al-Khatib had also said that Israeli prison officials locked the women in their cells for three consecutive days before they were allowed a two-hour break.

Among the punitive procedures, added al-Khatib, was the confiscation of the prisoners' belongings, deprivation of family visits, restriction on accessing the prison’s canteen, and the imposition of fines up to 700 shekels ($199).

She added that as of July 3, the situation in the prison had begun to return to normal, and that all prisoners had been released from solitary confinement, excluding Shirin Issawi, who has remained in solitary detention.

The prisoners have however still been deprived family visits and from purchasing products from the prison’s canteen.

The statements came following a visit Qaraqe had made on Tuesday to the family of the youngest female Palestinian prisoner 14-year-old Malak Muhammad Yousif al-Ghalith from al-Jalazun refugee camp in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, who was detained on May 20 at Israel’s Qalandiya military checkpoint.

She is still being held in Israel’s HaSharon prison.

Prisoners’ rights group Addameer has 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 in Israel, in direct violation of international law that states that an occupying power must hold detainees within the occupied territory.

Palestinians underwent a mass 40-day hunger strike earlier this year, in which among the demands were that Israeli authorities gather all female Palestinian prisoners in HaSharon prison, that arrangements be made for visits from the husbands and children of imprisoned Palestinian women, that they be permitted to receive materials for handicrafts, and that a special system be introduced for their transportation from prison to courts.

There have been conflicting reports on the success of the mass hunger strike, with Palestinian officials claiming that 80 percent of Palestinian demands were met and Israeli prison officials denying such claims and instead maintaining that Israeli officials had not negotiated with the prisoners.

The reinstatement of the second monthly family visit, which had been suspended by the ICRC last year, was the only demand that was confirmed to have been met, under the agreement that the visit would be funded by the Palestinian Authority (PA).

According to Addameer, 6,200 Palestinians were being held in Israeli prisons as of May, 56 of whom were women.
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