Israel cuts off water and electricity to Palestinian prisoners

Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel’s national security measure, has been accused of acting vindictively toward Palestinian prisoners.

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Israel is imposing cruel and vindictive punishment on Palestinian prisoners in its captivity.

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.

The Israeli military has been bombing the besieged territory while cutting off food, water and fuel, killing nearly two out of every 1,000 residents in Gaza.

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.

That is “a degrading and cruel practice,” Adalah has said.

“Security” wings almost exclusively hold Palestinians.

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

The Israeli prison authorities shuttered sections, confiscated television sets and closed the cafeteria, Addameer reported.

The prison authorities also shut down clinics inside prisons and are preventing prisoners from accessing medical care at hospitals and clinics outside, despite how detainees with cancer require continuous treatment.

The Israeli authorities barred visits from family members and are restricting prisoners from meeting their lawyers.

The Israeli prison authorities have “violently mistreated prisoners” – by damaging or confiscating their personal belongings, including clothing and food.

The prison authorities are limiting prisoners to “only two very poor-quality meals a day,” Addameer said.

Human rights groups based in Israel wrote to Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel’s national security minister, demanding an end to “arbitrary collective punishment, including restrictions on courtyard access, recreational activities, studies and work.”

“The Israel Prison Service has no authority to violate the fundamental rights of Palestinian prisoners solely for the purpose of fulfilling Minister Ben-Gvir’s vindictive aspirations,” Adalah said.

Sweeping arrests

This comes as Israeli forces conduct sweeping arrests across the occupied West Bank and inside Israel.

The Israeli authorities have arrested over 1,000 Palestinians since 7 October, including children, journalists, people who have been previously imprisoned and members of the Palestinian Legislative Council.

This brings to 6,500 the number of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli detention. More than 1,700 of them are administrative detainees – held by Israel without charge or trial.

Israel’s arrest campaigns are violent, as they destroy property and abuse family members in doing so, Addameer said.

Israel is arresting its own Palestinian citizens as well, including activists, lawyers, nurses, doctors and artists, including renowned Palestinian singer Dalal Abu Amneh. The exact number of detainees of Palestinian citizens of Israel is not known, but they are being held “on charges of incitement and assisting the enemy during the war,” Addameer said.

This is “all within the framework of seeking revenge against the Palestinian people,” the prisoners’ rights group said.

Workers in military camp

Since 7 October, some 4,000 Palestinian laborers from Gaza have been stranded inside Israel.

The Israeli authorities have arrested many of them – though the exact number is still unknown, according to the Palestinian Authority’s committee on prisoners. Others were transferred to shelters across the West Bank.

Ben-Gvir is registering Palestinian detainees from Gaza as “unlawful combatants” – according to a law from 2002. Israel has ordered that Palestinian laborers from Gaza be held in a newly-established military camp near the city of Beersheba, under an article of that law.


Tamara Nassar

Tamara Nassar is an assistant editor at The Electronic Intifada.