Saturday, April 18, 2009

PALESTINIANS MARK PRISONER DAY

“It would be better to drown these prisoners, in the Dead Sea if possible, since that’s the lowest point in the world,"
- Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman

"They wanted to break our will and destroy our dignity. But, of course, we are stronger than all their virulent tactics,"
-Freed twenty-four year old Palestinian prisoner Sherine Sheikh Khalil

Palestinians held vigils across the West Bank and Gaza yesterday to commemorate Prisoner Day and ask for the release of those held in Israeli jails. Israel holds thousands of Palestinians, often in administrative detention, meaning without charge or trial. Although the case of captured soldier Gilad Shalit, the only Israeli in Palestinian custody, has garnered international attention Palestinian prisoners are seldom mentioned in western media.

It remains a contentious issue in Palestine though where prisoners, including many woman and children and much of Palestine's educated leadership, are regarded as hostages and political prisoners, a charge echoed by human rights groups. Hundreds of demonstrators in Gaza, chanting "freedom for prisoners" and carrying pictures of imprisoned family members, were reassured the issue remained a top priority for their elected leadership.

Prisoners are often faced with indefinite detention and poor treatment. Recently released prisoner Sherine Sheikh Khalil spoke out about the mistreatment in an online interview. Khalil spent six years in Israeli custody after being arrested in the West Bank at age 17. Speaking from Gaza where the Israeli authorities deported her, Khalil said of prison authorities "[t]hey treated us as if we were animals. . .[i]t is really difficult to communicate to you the bestiality and savagery of their behavior," she went on to add that "[y]ou can’t really speak about a genuine justice system in Israel. . .[it is] a country that sanctions murder of non-Jews, theft of their property and demolition of their homes. It is a state that uses every conceivable extenuating circumstances to exonerate Jewish murderers of Palestinians while concocting all sorts of pretexts to condemn and incriminate Palestinians."

Khalil went on to describe some of the abuse detainees suffered at the hands of their Israeli captors. She reported that Palestinian prisoners were moved to facilities housing dangerous Israeli criminals and spoke of women being forced to give birth with their hands and feet shackled. Harsher measures introduced by Israel's new hawkish government, including medical negligence and a decrease in food, have already led to the deaths of two prisoners. Abdul Nasser Farwana who oversees the Statistics Department of the Prisoners’ Ministry in Ramallah spoke of headscarves being tightened around detainees to the point of strangulation. The new Israeli government acknowledges escalating mistreatment of Palestinian prisoners, but claims it is justified in doing to so to help secure the release of a captured Israeli soldier. Previously Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman argued “It would be better to drown these prisoners, in the Dead Sea if possible, since that’s the lowest point in the world," and offered to pay for the needed buses if the government adopted his policy.

Khalil indicated she believed the goal of abuse is "to break our will and destroy our dignity," but added "we are stronger than all their virulent tactics."

2 comments:

Bar Kochba said...

I don't have time to refute all of this nonsense (and an article about Gaza is forthcoming) but I doubt your quote from Lieberman, particularly since it is impossible to drown in the Dead Sea. The salt level of the Dead Sea makes one float.

Although if Israel would institute a policy of immediate execution for terrorists, I would be overjoyed... The same law that allowed Israel to execute Adolph Eichmann, may his name be accursed, could be used against Hamas and Fatah murderers.

Young Activist said...

Here is a link to the Lieberman comment.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2003/jul/25/israel