On the other side of the world from Palestine, in New Zealand’s capital city of Wellington, several members of the local Muslim community braved the freezing cold on Friday night to hold a vigil in Civic Square calling for the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. (more…)
Occupied Palestine – More than 100 Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons are still on hunger strike for the fifth day in a row, protesting their indefinite administrative detention by Israeli occupation.
Director of Ahrar Centre for Prisoners and Human Rights Studies, Fuad al-Khafash, said Monday that the Israeli occupation has continued assaulting the hunger strikers and tried to stop their strike. (more…)
On Wednesday 23rd April 2014 Inminds received a short letter from Shireen Issawi, written in her cell in Israel’s infamous HaSharon prison. Its content was revealed by her lawyer.
Shireen Issawi was abducted by the Israeli occupation on 6th March 2014. As a human right lawyer she has been a strong advocate for prisoners rights, a thorn against the occupation. They interrogating her for 22 days at Israel’s notorious G4S secured torture den – the Russian Compound in Jerusalem. Everyday she had to endure 16 hours of interrogation, forced in to stress positions which have left severe pain in her back. Between interrogation sessions she was caged in solitary confinement with no access to a lawyer or contact with other prisoners.
When she didn’t confess to their trumped up charges they finally transferred her to the filthy rat infested dungeon at HaSharon, also secured by G4S.
Shireen Issawi’s letter was read aloud outside the headquarters of G4S in London on 25th April 2014:
I am a lawyer, I have the right and duty to defend our prisoners. To stand for their rights is not unlawful. Although I have been busy recently focusing on completing my Masters thesis, they arrested me. The real reason for my arrest is that the occupation wants to intimidate lawyers from performing their duty in the service of our prisoners. They will not succeed, I dedicate my life for the cause of our prisoners and will not stop fighting for their freedom until all our prisoners are released. ~ Shireen Issawi
“Grave violations and aggression by Israel against the Palestinian people continued in a culture of impunity,” says Human Rights Council
On 24 March The Human Rights Council held a general debate on the human rights situation in Palestine and other Occupied Arab Territories, in a meeting at which four reports on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories were presented.
The Secretary-General’s report again confirmed continued flagrant violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law.
Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said that the reports highlighted the issue of settlements, which, together with settler violence, were at the core of many of the human rights violations in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
Despite repeated calls on Israel to cease settlement activity, their construction continued with devastating consequences for Palestinian civilians. Ms. Pillay also expressed deep concern at the situation in Gaza.
What does a mother in Gaza do on Mothers’ Day?
She wakes to pitch blackness, because there is no electricity to light the room.
She fumbles her way by torch or candlelight (if there is not too much wind to blow it out) to the bathroom.
Is she in luck this-morning? Did the electricity come on during the night and power the pump so that there is water in the roof-top tank to wash with? Even if it is so icy-cold and salty that it stings her eyes almost as much as the teargas that her sisters in the West Bank and Jerusalem must bear?
Is there any water left in the drinking container, to make a cup of coffee, or will she have to stumble into the yard and borrow some from her neighbour’s bucket? Is there even any coffee now that UNRWA has cut her food aid? Will her neighbour have any water left in her bucket this morning?
Will she have time to fetch and make and drink it before the second-youngest child awakes, Nuha, who fell into a fitful fevered sleep it seems like only minutes ago? The child who needs medicine that the hospital does not have, because the Palestinian Authority has not sent it, like the other 79.99% of necessary medicines and disposables?
Will Nuha meet the same fate as her older brother Ahmed, who died at Rafah Crossing waiting to go to Egypt for medical treatment unavailable in Gaza?
Who will say the Salat al-Janazah, with her father stuck two years in an Israeli jail, without charge…
Yes, there is some water, Alhamdulillah – enough for a cup of tea. She lights the gas. It burns a moment, sputters, and dies. The gas has given up the ghost.
She sighs. She prays. She crawls back into the bed she shares with her children, a mattress on the floor of the room they now call home. A room in the already-overcrowded house of a relative, where five families inhabit each of the five bedrooms that once housed but one child – yet still better than the rubbled remains of their own houses, struck by Israeli rockets, made unlivable by floodwaters, and for which repairs are impossible because of the lack of building materials.
At least she is not alone, she thinks as she dozes off, wrapping her surviving children in the warmth of her love, the only thing she has to give them.
Who will help her, this mother of Gaza, on this Mothers’ Day – or any other day?
MAD – Media Activists for Detainees
Will Samer Al-Issawi die in an Israeli jail, just like Maysara AbuHamdiya? Or will the international community move today, the International Day for Palestinian Prisoners, to save his life?
GAZA CITY — These are the questions today preying on the minds of 32 sick Palestinians in Israeli jails. Along with, “Which of us will be next?”
Maysara AbuHamdiya, a prisoner for over ten years, died this month following lack of timely medical treatment for throat cancer. Samer Al-Issawi faces imminent heart failure after more than 270 days hunger striking in protest against Israel’s policy of administration detention, and inhumane conditions in Israeli jails.
“My health has deteriorated greatly but I will continue my hunger strike until victory or martyrdom. This is my last remaining stone to throw…” Al-Issawi said in his last letter from prison.
Palestinian Ministry of Detainees and Ex-Detainees reports that as at 31 March 2013 there were 1,200 sick Palestinians prisoners inside Israeli jails, 14 of whom have cancer and 18 of whom are confined in the Ramle Prison Clinic.
Israel shows no signs of introducing minimum standards of medical care anytime soon. In a report titled The Palestinian Prisoners Hunger Strikes of 2012 Physicians For Human Rights-Israel made recommendations regarding the urgent need to transfer prison medical services from the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) to the Ministry of Health, due to the dilemmas of dual loyalty of IPS medical staff and the primacy given to political and security considerations at the expense of prisoners’ health and well-being. It is not to be.
In response to their recommendations, “…the Ministry maintained that supervision and control over the medical services of prisoners would remain under the auspices of the IPS, thereby thwarting our request…” Physicians For Human Rights-Israel stated on their website this week.
Thus despite the best efforts of even local Israeli human rights groups, the dire situation for ailing Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails remains unchanged.
Will Al-Issawi be the 204th Palestinian to die in Israeli custody since 1967? Or will the International Day for Palestinians Prisoners spur the international community into snatching him from the jaws of death?
Issued by: MAD – Media Activists for Detainees, Gaza
Who is MAD? We are! We are Media Activists for Detainees, a collective of young Gazans who are MAD about the use of administrative detention by Israeli authorities to imprison Palestinians without charge. We are MAD about the torture to which our brothers and sisters are subjected during interrogation. We are MAD about the conditions under which they are held in Israeli jails, from lack of timely and adequate medical treatment, to years of solitary confinement, rotten food, strip searches of both detainees and visiting family members, violent midnight cell-raids, random beatings, and the with-holding of family visits.
We are MAD, and we are dangerous – but only to those who with-hold basic human rights from detainees in Israeli jails – and only by exposing their abuses to the world.
By Julie Webb-Pullman
Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh died today shackled to his hospital bed, the latest victim of Israel’s cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment of Palestinian detainees.
Suffering from cancer since at least August 2012, he was not told of his diagnosis – or given any treatment other than painkillers and flu injections – until March 2013, when he was finally commenced on chemotherapy. This treatment might have had some chance of helping him if it had been administered early enough – but it did not begin until the cancer had already metastasised to his spine…then it was suspended ‘for the Jewish holidays,’ according to his lawyer Rami al-Alami.
Such blatant breaches of both medical ethics and human rights norms are both scandalous, and scandalously common.
The litany of medical neglect by Israeli Prison Services (IPS), which many ex-prisoners describe as a deliberate punitive policy by medical personnel in league with the Israeli prison authorities, is demonstrable in the 200+ prisoners who have died whilst in Israeli custody – 51 of them from medical negligence – and those who have died soon after release.
The latter include Hayel Abu-Zaid, Sitan Al-Wali, Murad Abu-Sakoot, Fayez Ziyadat, Zakariya Eissa Daud, Zuhair Labadah, and Ashraf Abu-Thurai’a who died in January 2013.
Palestinian Minister of Detainees’ and Ex-Detainees’ Affairs Dr Attallah Abu Elsebah has released numerous press statements over recent years advising of the medical negligence being suffered by more than 1000 of the 4500+ Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails. They currently include some 18 prisoners permanently resident in the Israeli Prison Service’s Medical Center (IMC) in Ramleh Prison suffering from life-threatening or malignant diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and kidney failure, and 85 disabled prisoners with mobility, mental, and sensory disabilities.
Israel’s own human rights and medical experts decry the practices of their prison authorities. Physicians for Human Rights–Israel reports that the Ramleh IMC operates with virtually no supervision, medical or otherwise, and is characterized by inadequate medical care, non-medical staff intervening in treatment, problems in transferring patients to outside institutions, neglect in cases of disability and rehabilitation, threats against patients that have filed complaints, and inadequate sanitation and living conditions. 
“The IPS, the main entity responsible for the custody of incarcerated persons, goes to great lengths to prevent outside inspections. The IPS does not allow open tours of its facilities, and only permits pre-coordinated visits with attorneys or doctors with individual prisoners, during which the attorney or doctors may not visit a prisoner’s cell in order to assess the conditions of incarceration,” they report on their website.
A Council for European Palestinian Relations description of the conditions for Palestinian detainees stated that health examinations are conducted through a fence, and any necessary surgery or transfer to hospital for additional medical treatment is usually postponed for long periods of time. 
“Demands made by Israeli organisations to provide health care to detainees have consistently been refused, in addition to petitions made by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC),” they add.
Right to health care in prisons
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) has been deemed by the Human Rights Committee to protect the rights of prisoners to health care through Article 6 guaranteeing the right to life, the Article 7 prohibition that ‘no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’, and Article 10 guaranteeing the right to humane treatment of prisoners. These articles have led the Committee to hold that ‘adequate’ or ‘appropriate and timely medical care must be available to all detainees.’ 
The Committee has also held that ‘free access to doctors’ should be guaranteed in practice, immediately after arrest and during all stages of detention. 
In fact the Human Rights Committee found a violation of Article 6, the right to life, in a very similar case to that of Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh. In Lanstova versus Russia, a man died in prison because of the failure of the prison authorities to take appropriate medical measures when his health dangerously deteriorated. 
How does Israel get away with it?
Whilst Israel has ratified the main human rights conventions, including the ICCPR, it is not a party to any of the Optional Protocols other than Children in Armed Conflicts, nor has it accepted the jurisdiction of any of the treaty body committees.
Specifically, Israel has not signed the First Optional Protocol of the ICCPR, thus complaints against Israel cannot be received by, or acted on, by the Committee.
How ironic that Israel is able to continue to be a member state of the United Nations, claiming all of the benefits of protection for itself under international law, while accepting none of the accompanying obligations and responsibilities towards others, particularly Palestinian detainees – and while Palestine itself cannot even achieve full recognition as a state.
One might wonder why a state that has breached over 80 UN resolutions, including the United Nations Charter itself at least 22 times, is left to continue ‘business as usual’ against Palestinian detainees –three of whom have already died this year – and is never held to account. Is the UN showing unmistakable signs of its advancing age, and heading for total impotence, and irrelevance?
Noam Chomsky has defined a rogue state as “a state that defies international laws and conventions, does not consider itself bound by the major treaties and conventions, World Court decisions — in fact, anything except the interests of its own leadership, the forces around the leadership that dominate policy.” 
Regardless of the impotence of the UN system to enforce international law, particularly in the face of the US power of veto that would inevitably be used should any attempt be made to oust Israel from their hallowed halls, the international community of states has no other moral choice but to act, and to act immediately, to rein in the rogue state of Israel, and force it, as they did apartheid South Africa, to act in accordance with the fundamental rights and principles that define world citizenship – mutual respect, and self-determination.
To do any less is to critically undermine not only the human rights system and its basis in universality, indivisibility, and interdependence, but also the very foundations of civilisation.
Because ultimately, we are all Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh.
 HRC, Concluding Observations, Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea, ICCPR, A/56/40 vol. 1 (2001) 98 at para. 86(16); HRC, Concluding Observations, Portugal, ICCPR, A/58/40 vol. 1 (2003) 56 at para. 83(11); HRC, Concluding Observations, Kenya, ICCPR, A/60/40 vol. 1 (2005) 44 at para. 86(19)
 HRC, Concluding Observations, Ukraine, ICCPR, A/57/40 vol. I (2002) 32 at para. 74(15).
Cf. HRC, Concluding Observations, Benin, ICCPR, A/60/40 vol. I (2004) 30 at para. 83(17).
 Lanstova v The Russian Federation Communication No 763/1999, UN Doc CCPR/C/74/D/763/1997 (2002).