Israeli guards fire tear gas into prisoner’s hospital room

People hold banners

Palestinians hold a demonstration to show solidarity with hunger strikers in Israeli prisons, on 19 October in Gaza City. 

Mahmoud Ajjour APA images

An Israeli prison guard deployed to watch a hospitalized Palestinian prisoner reportedly fired tear gas into the intensive care unit room where the man was convalescing after treatment for injuries sustained during interrogation.

The Hebrew newspaper Maariv reported that an Israel Prison Service guard “accidentally” emitted tear gas in Samer Arbeed’s room at the Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem earlier this month, requiring doctors to intervene.

Maariv said the incident was never reported to the prison service.

Arbeed was hospitalized on 27 September following his interrogation by Israel’s domestic intelligence agency, the Shin Bet.

But being hospitalized has not stopped his ordeal and Israeli prison authorities have continued to question Arbeed even while in the ICU.

Prisoners rights group Addameer said Israel’s torture of Arbeed caused him pneumonia and eleven broken ribs, among other serious injuries, potentially making exposure to tear gas even more detrimental to his health condition.

United Nations rights experts are calling on Israel to investigate claims of torture of Arbeed.

Addameer’s Mahmoud Hassan, Arbeed’s lawyer, was not informed of the tear gas incident.

In fact, the head of the ICU gave Hassan a medical report indicating that deterioration in Arbeed’s pulmonary system was due to a “contamination,” Addameer stated.

Israel extended Arbeed’s detention by eight days during a court session held at the ICU on 22 October after he was gassed. Hassan was barred from attending that session as well.

The Shin Bet accuses Arbeed of involvement in the killing of Israeli teen Rina Shnerb.

Shnerb was killed by what the Israeli military said was an improvised explosive device near the Dolev settlement in the West Bank on 23 August that also injured her father and brother.

Arresting lawmaker

Israel has re-arrested leftist Palestinian lawmaker Khalida Jarrar on Thursday only eight months after her release last time around.

Jarrar was taken from her home near the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah in the early hours of Thursday morning by what Israeli media reports said were security forces belonging to the Shin Bet.

Sahar Francis, Jarrar’s lawyer and Addameer’s director, said the lawmaker was taken to an unknown location and that reasons for her arrest is classified.

Jarrar spent 20 months in Israeli prisons under administrative detention until she was released in February.

Addameer currently lists seven Palestinian lawmakers in Israeli prisons, five of them on administrative detention.

Israel typically issues administrative detention orders for six-month periods, but can renew them indefinitely.

Under such orders, occupation forces hold individuals without charge or trial and detainees are not allowed to see any evidence against them.

Hunger strikers

Meanwhile, several Palestinian prisoners are deep into their separate hunger strikes.

Ismail Ali, 30, from the occupied West Bank village of Abu Dis, has been refusing food for nearly 100 days in protest at his administrative detention:

Ahmad Zahran and Musaab al-Hindi have been on hunger strike for more than 35 days.

Ahmad Ghannam suspended his hunger strike last week after 102 days of refusing food.

Ghannam was protesting the renewal of his administrative detention, but Israel’s military authorities have now decided not to extend his time.

The 42-year-old father of two is from the Palestinian village of Dura near the occupied West Bank city of Hebron. He is a leukemia survivor.

Tariq Qaadan, 46, from the occupied West Bank city of Jenin, also suspended his hunger strike after prison authorities decided not to renew his administrative detention beyond six months.

Qaadan had refused food for over 85 days.

Forcible exile

Meanwhile, Israel released photojournalist Mustafa al-Kharouf on 24 October after detaining him for nine months without charge or trial.

He was released under strict curfew and has been ordered to leave the country in about three weeks or change his residency status.

Israel attempted to forcibly exile al-Kharouf to Jordan in July, but the latter refused him entry.

Amnesty International called the attempted forcible exile a “war crime.”

Israel’s interior ministry insisted that al-Kharouf has a Jordanian passport and that he can be expelled to Jordan whether or not he is a citizen of that country.

Al-Kharouf was born in Algeria to a Palestinian father and an Algerian mother but he is not a citizen of any country, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

His wife and child are both from occupied East Jerusalem and have permanent residency status issued by Israeli occupation authorities.

He has been living in occupied East Jerusalem since he was 12 years old.


Tamara Nassar

Tamara Nassar is an assistant editor at The Electronic Intifada.