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Israel intensifies crack down on Palestinian prisoners

'We've lost all contact': Israel intensifies repressive measures on Palestinian prisoners
4 min read
West Bank
11 October, 2023
Israeli increasing restrictions on Palestinian prisoners contributed to the rising tensions between Israel and Palestinians in the months before the Hamas-led 7 October attack on Israeli towns and military bases along Gaza's surroundings.
Israeli prison services cut off water, electricity, and communication with outside world from Palestinian prisoners, according to Palestinian sources. [Qassam Muaddi/TNA]

Israeli authorities intensified repressive measures against Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails since Saturday, 7 October, in response to Hamas's surprise attack along the 1948 territories surrounding Gaza, the Palestinian Prisoners' Club said on Wednesday, 11 October.

On Tuesday, Israeli prison security forces stormed Palestinian prisoners' cells' sections in the Ofer prison using stun grenades and rubber bullets, according to the Palestinian Prisoners' Club. Israeli forces also cut off all communications between Palestinian prisoners and the outside world.

"Since Sunday, contact was lost with prisoners, and we learned about the raid on Tuesday night hours later by one prisoner who managed to communicate", Amani Sarahneh, spokesperson for the Palestinian Prisoners' Club, said to The New Arab.

"The prisoner told us that the prison service informed inmates that they were, from that moment on, under the immediate control of the Israeli army", said Sarahneh.  "Our information is that Israeli army forces were deployed in prisons, although the immediate dealing with prisoners continues to be handled by the Israeli prison security".

"The occupation also cancelled all family visits for all prisoners and cut water and electricity from all cells", noted Sarahneh.

"Since Saturday, the occupation forces have arrested 150 Palestinians in the West Bank, 40 of them on the night of Tuesday to Wednesday alone", she said. "Many of them are former prisoners, none of them has been given charges, and we expect a massacre of Administrative Detention orders to happen soon", she added.

"Administrative Detention" is Israel's military detention system, which allows its forces to detain Palestinians for up to six months at each detention order without charge or due process and is indefinitely renewable. Currently, 1264 Palestinians are held in Israeli jails under administrative detention orders.

"We lost contact with my father on Sunday, and ever since we have no information about what is happening in the Ofer prison, where he is held", Guevara Taha, the 22-year-old daughter of Palestinian administrative detainee Thaer Taha, told TNA.

Thaer Taha is serving the third six-month administrative detention order since he was lastly arrested. He has spent 13 years in Israeli jails, eight of them under administrative detention.

"Fortunately, we, the families of prisoners have Whatsapp groups where we exchange information, and when one prisoner manages to have contact with their family, they give news about the state of others in their prisons, and families share those news", said Guevara Taha.

"The last time we had contact with my father, on Saturday, he told us that the occupation cut water and electricity from their cells, but that their morale is high and that they are holding together to endure these new conditions", she added.

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Israeli increasing restrictions on Palestinian prisoners contributed to the rising tensions between Israel and Palestinians in the months prior to the Hamas-led attack on Israeli towns and military bases along Gaza's surroundings.

Shortly after Hamas's attack started, the leader of Hamas's armed wing said in a recorded statement that one of the objectives of the attack was to liberate Palestinian prisoners through a prisoners' exchange with Israel.

Since Saturday, Hamas has captured dozens of Israeli soldiers and civilians as hostages, and transferred them to Gaza. On Tuesday, The spokesperson of the Hamas armed wing said in a statement that the organization "will not negotiate prisoners' exchange under fire", insisting that such negotiations would only take place after a ceasefire is agreed.

Currently, some 5,000 Palestinians are held in Israeli jails, including 170 children and 33 women, according to human rights groups.