Skip to main content

Released Palestinians say Israeli jails worse after 7 Oct

Released Palestinians say Israeli prison conditions even worse after 7 October
3 min read
27 November, 2023
Israel has made the lives of Palestinian prisoners even harder since 7 October, according to the testimonies of those recently released in the Hamas-Israel prisoner exchange deal.
Palestinian detainees released as part of the Israel-Hamas prisoner exchange deal have detailed the appalling conditions of Israeli jails in the wake of October 7 [Getty]

Prison conditions for Palestinians held in Israeli jails have worsened since 7 October, several prisoners recently released following a deal with Hamas have told The New Arab’s Arabic language sister website.

Former prisoners spoke to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed about their brutal mistreatment, saying Israel's prison administration is now further depriving detainees of food and water, along with other basic necessities.

Detainees were also severely beaten by Israel’s Yamaz and Metzada police units, who specialise in prison suppression operations, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Israel has a track record of holding Palestinian prisoners in sub-standard conditions, including providing poor-quality meals, but standards have deteriorated further since 7 October, when Israel launched its onslaught on Gaza after a large-scale attack by Hamas killed hundreds.

The prison administration started providing only two meals a day to the prisoners, one consisting of eggs, nine for every ten prisoners, and the other consisting of cucumber, with two being shared between ten prisoners, along with some bread.

They also cut the daily sustenance allowance, which had previously allowed inmates to purchase additional food from the canteen

Unliveable cells

A huge influx of detainees after Israel raids in the occupied West Bank since 7 October has seen overcrowded prisons become "unliveable".

Cells, measuring approximately 8x4 metres, used to accommodate six prisoners but now hold anywhere between 10 and 20 prisoners.

Inmates in the cramped cells are often deprived of beds, blankets, and clothes, with some being forced to sleep in their underwear, the released prisoners said.

Israel’s Ofer Prison in the occupied West Bank typically held around 800 to 1,000 people, but the facility now houses 3,000 prisoners, according to Munqez Abu Atwan, director of the Palestinian Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners Affairs Authority office in northern Hebron.

Live Story

Brutality and no legal considerations

The testimonies of the former detainees also reveal how Israel often abandons legal considerations when dealing with prisoners.

Prison authorities no longer inform prisoners about administrative detention orders issued against them. Administrative detention is a controversial Israeli policy through which Palestinians can be imprisoned without charge or trial for an indefinite period of time.

Some prisoners believe they are merely being held in facilities under arrest and will be released soon, unaware that they have been placed in administrative detention without their or their family's knowledge.

Prison suppression units have since 7 October raided prisoners' cells on an almost daily basis, beating prisoners with batons and firing tear gas before withdrawing.

Around 6,000 Palestinians are locked up in Israeli jails, including 170 minors and 33 women. Around 1,000 are in administrative detention.