Did Israel kill Hamas detainee?

A beareded man in a checkered shirt looks to his side

Omar Hamzah Daraghmeh, 58, died in Israeli custody two weeks after he was arrested.

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A Palestinian prisoner held without charge or trial died in Israeli detention on Monday less than two weeks after his arrest.

Omar Hamzah Daraghmeh appeared virtually at Ofer military court on the day he died alongside his lawyer. The 58-year-old’s lawyer asked him if he was in good health, and Daraghmeh said that he was, according to the Palestinian Authority’s prisoners commission.

Hamas, of which Daraghmeh was a prominent member, said his death was “a cowardly assassination, for which the occupation bears full responsibility.”

The prisoners commission said it was considering “the death of any prisoner in the wake of the collective aggression and extermination of our people in Gaza an act of assassination.”

The prisoners commission said it had received information that Palestinian prisoners are being tortured and beaten in Israeli detention.

“We are not talking about mere fears of the death of other prisoners,” the prisoners commission said.

An independent forensic investigation to determine Daraghmeh’s specific cause of death cannot be done as Israel is withholding his body and refuses to hand it over to the family for burial.

Daraghmeh’s death brings to 238 the number of Palestinians who have died in Israeli custody since 1967.

At least 11 of their bodies continue to be held by Israel.

Israeli occupation authorities arrested Daraghmeh on 9 October along with his son Hamzah, from their home in the northern occupied West Bank city of Tubas.

Palestinians in Tubas held a massive demonstration protesting his death in the hours after it was announced.
Daraghmeh was placed under an administrative detention order for a six-month period. Under such orders, detainees are held without charge or trial and they and their lawyers are unable to see evidence against them.

Sweeping arrests

The practice is a direct continuation of detention practices under British colonial rule and may constitute a war crime, according to human rights organizations.

Israeli authorities detained Daraghmeh amid sweeping arrests across the occupied West Bank.

The Israeli authorities have arrested over 1,200 Palestinians since 7 October, including children, journalists, people who have been previously imprisoned and members of the Palestinian Legislative Council.

This brings to over 6,000 the number of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli detention. More than 1,600 of them are administrative detainees.

Since 7 October, when Hamas launched a surprise operation on an unprecedented scale against Israel, dealing it a massive strategic defeat, Israel unleashed a campaign of revenge and genocide on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Israel’s campaign of vengeance has extended across historic Palestine as well, not least against Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons.

The Israeli authorities have cut off electricity and water on so-called “security” prisoners since 11 October, Adalah, a group that advocates for the rights of Palestinians in Israel, said. Prisoners’ rights group Addameer said water has been restricted to “only one hour per day” in some prisons.

“This act constitutes collective punishment, is illegal, and amounts to torture,” Adalah said.


Tamara Nassar

Tamara Nassar is an assistant editor at The Electronic Intifada.