Palestinian prisoners mobilise for 'large confrontation' with Israeli authorities

Palestinian prisoners mobilise for 'large confrontation' with Israeli authorities
"If these measures are to be introduced, there will most probably be a large confrontation between Palestinian prisoners and the Israeli jails authority," said said Milena Ansari from Addameer.
4 min read
West Bank
02 February, 2023
Israel placed some 68 Palestinian prisoners in solitary confinement over the weekend. [Qassam Muaddi/TNA]

Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails might be heading towards a new mass confrontation with Israeli jails authority after recent Israeli escalation against them, said Palestinian human rights and prisoner support groups on Wednesday.

On Sunday, Israeli prison forces raided the cells of Palestinian female prisoners at the Damon prison near Haifa. According to the Palestinian Prisoners' Club, Israeli forces used physical violence and police dogs during the raid.

Palestinian prisoner support groups reported that the female prisoners protested by setting fire to their cells. In response, some 120 Palestinian prisoners in the Negev prison returned meals on Tuesday.

"It seems that the Israeli jails authority raided the women's cells in Damon following the shooting attack in Jerusalem," Ayah Shreiteh, spokesperson for the Palestinian Prisoners' Club, told The New Arab.

"Israeli forces shot pepper spray, used police dogs during the search and then placed the representative of all female prisoners in solitary confinement," noted Shreiteh.

Israeli authorities later transferred the representative of Palestinian female prisoners, Yasmin Shaaban, to the Jalamah interrogation centre near Jenin, according to reports from Palestinian prisoners' support groups on Wednesday.

"Prisoners in the Negev prison protested at the news of the raid against female prisoners, and Israeli authorities placed 68 of them in solitary confinement," Shreiteh added.

Last week, the Israeli jails authority transferred tens of Palestinian prisoners from several facilities to the Nafha prison, a measure that repeatedly protested against Palestinian prisoners.

According to Palestinian human rights groups, prisoners' transfers and the Israeli violence against them are linked to the policies of the new Israeli government.

"Israel had decided to transfer Palestinian prisoners every three months to new facilities following the Gilboa prison break in September 2021," Milena Ansari from Addameer Prisoner Support Association said to TNA

"Prisoners protested back then, and the transfers were suspended, although many prisoners were placed in isolation at the Hadarim prison," she said. "The new extremist Israeli government decided to resume the transfers under the orders of the new security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir."

Early in January, Ben-Gvir visited the new cells in Nafha and tweeted that he was making sure that the incarceration conditions of Palestinians there will not be "better conditions than the existing ones".

Ben-Gvir also pledged to continue lobbying to approve the death penalty for condemned Palestinians.

The leadership body of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, gathering all Palestinian affiliations, announced in early January that prisoners will counter Israeli new measures with "insurrection and disobedience", threatening to start a massive hunger strike on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in late March.

"It's too early to know if the hunger strike will eventually happen, but Israeli authorities continue to escalate in such a way that makes the probability more likely," said Milena Ansari from Addameer.

"In a recent visit, one Palestinian detainee who is held without chargers under the administrative detention system told us that Israeli authorities had informed all Palestinian inmates at the Magiddo prison of new measures to come," noted Ansari.

"These measures include reducing visit time to half an hour per month, reducing courtyard time to one hour a day, forbidding prisoners to move between rooms during the day and forcing them to hang an Israeli flag in each room," she said.

"If these measures are to be introduced, there will most probably be a large confrontation between Palestinian prisoners and the Israeli jails authority," she added.

Israeli forces' raid on Palestinian female prisoners in the Damon prison came hours before the arrival of the US secretary of state Anthony Blinken to the country in an attempt to "ease tensions".

Blinken met Israeli government and Palestinian officials, calling for 'calm' without referring to Palestinian prisoners' conditions in Israeli jails.