Israeli forces injured dozens of Palestinians in Ketziot prison in the southern Naqab region this week in its latest crackdown on detainees.
The Israel Prison Service raided cells on Monday, beating prisoners and using tear gas and stun grenades. Some were hospitalized and then returned to the prison.
Prisoners rights group Addameer called the crackdown part of “a systematic policy that aims at deteriorating the prisoners’ life conditions,” adding that “it holds the occupation authorities fully responsible for the lives and safety of all Palestinian prisoners.”
Photos and videos show Israeli forces raiding the prison earlier this week:
Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq demanded that the International Committee of the Red Cross intervene to “halt further attacks against Palestinian prisoners,” determine the condition of the injured and ensure the rights of all detainees are met.
The raids came after Israel alleged that two prison guards were stabbed at the Naqab prison on Sunday following a crackdown by prison authorities.
The two Palestinian prisoners who allegedly committed the stabbing were identified as Odai Salem and Islam Wishahi from the occupied West Bank cities of Bethlehem and Jenin, respectively.
Wishahi was serving the last two years of his 19-year sentence, and Salem was serving his last year of nine. Both had been sentenced by Israeli military courts that lack basic due process rights.
One of the guards was airlifted to the Soroka hospital in Beersheva and is in moderate condition, and the other was lightly wounded.
The prisoners were shot and seriously wounded, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Center for Studies. They are being treated at the Soroka hospital as well.
Israeli daily Haaretz contradicted that claim, stating that prison forces “fired no shots during the altercation” but tried to disarm the prisoners, who were injured in the process.
Haaretz did not clarify how the prisoners were injured or the severity of their wounds.
Israel is considering the stabbings a “terrorist attack,” according to the publication Arab48.
Crackdown on Palestinian prisoners
The stabbing occurred during the last stage of the transfer of some 100 Palestinian prisoners affiliated with Hamas from Ketziot prison and Megiddo prison in the north to designated wings in other Israeli prisons, according to Haaretz.
The transfer began last week when it was announced by Israel Prison Service head Asher Vaknin.
Unrest began when the Israel Prison Service installed devices that block cell phone reception for “all the wings housing security prisoners,” to prevent Palestinians from communicating with the outside world, according to Haaretz.
Israel intends to keep expanding the system to other prisons.
Palestinians in Rimon prison in southern Israel protested the measure by burning mattresses in their cells, Haaretz reported.
Prison authorities imposed fines totalling $70,000 on the prisoners, and will be confiscating the money from the accounts in which families transfer funds for their detained loved ones to spend at the canteen.
Withholding prisoner’s body
Rimon prison is where Palestinian prisoner Faris Baroud, 51, died in February after years of medical neglect. Baroud, from Gaza City, was in his 28th year of imprisonment.
The Palestinian Prisoners Center for Studies is demanding Israeli authorities release Baroud’s body, still withheld by Israeli authorities weeks after his death, despite an Israeli court ruling to return it after an autopsy.
Israel’s autopsy revealed that Baroud primarily died of a heart attack, but also had several other illnesses.
Earlier this month, an Israeli court issued a decision not to bury Baroud in Israel’s so-called cemeteries of numbers until a final decision on whether to hand his body to the Palestinian side, according to Wattan TV.
These are graveyards where Israel buries Palestinians and identifies them only by numbers.
Aggression “most severe in years”
Al-Haq stated that Israel’s attack on prisoners in the Naqab “must be seen within the context of Israel’s escalating and systemic crackdown against Palestinian prisoners over the past few months.”
The Palestinian Prisoners Club said that Israeli aggression against prisoners this year has been the “most severe in years.”
Israeli forces injured more than 100 Palestinian prisoners at Israel’s Ofer military prison near the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah in a series of raids in January.
Israeli public security minister Gilad Erdan announced earlier this year the formation of a committee to worsen conditions for detained Palestinians and reduce their standard of living to “the minimum required,” including imposing water rations.
Palestinian prisoners have announced a mass hunger strike to start a couple of days before Israeli elections next month in protest of Israel’s crackdown.
- Israel Prison Service
- Negev (Naqab)
- International Committee of the Red Cross
- Odai Salem
- Islam Wishahi
- political prisoners
- Palestinian Prisoners' Club
- violence against prisoners
- Soroka Hospital
- Palestinian Prisoners Center for Studies
- Megiddo prison
- Asher Vaknin
- Rimon prison
- Faris Baroud
- Wattan TV
- Cemetery of Numbers
- Gilad Erdan