Palestinian Political Prisoners, from the Oldest to the Youngest

Nael Barghouti was part of a Fatah squad who killed an Israeli officer in 1978. Although under international law occupying military forces are legitimate targets for resistance to occupation, Nael has been imprisoned since 1978 for life and is the longest-serving political prisoner held by Israel. Nael is regarded by Palestinian people as the dean of Palestinian political prisoners.

Yesterday Nael’s gaolers demanded a strip search. He refused so he was thrown in an isolation cell for two days and beaten.

Fellow detainee, Hilal Jaradat, reportedly rushed to his aid and was subsequently put together in a cell with Nael where they were both beaten by the guards, Al-Ashkar told Ma’an.

The lawyer for Al-Barghouti, Muhammad Al-Shayed, said in a statement that Nael is being punished for the incident and has been banned from receiving visitors for a period of four months, in addition to being fined 500 NIS and prohibited from buying from the prison cafeteria.

More than one third of Palestinian prisoners are denied visitation rights according to prisoner affairs expert Abdul-Nasser Farwana.

Nelson Mandela, now universally honoured, spent 27 years of his life from 1964 to 1982 imprisoned on the evil Robben Island, incarcerated by the apartheid South African regime for resisting its oppression. Current South African President Jacob Zuma who was imprisoned there for ten years. Over 3,000 political prisoners were banished to Robben Island between 1961 and 1991.

In Israel’s dungeons, there are many Palestinian Mandelas and Zumas, who await freedom after years of steadfastness.

According to B’tSelem, at the end of April 2011 there were around 5,380 Palestinian political prisoners, 4,381 are serving sentences and 1,002 are detained. These prisoners include 217 Palestinians children, 37 of whom are under the age of 16. 121 imprisoned children are detainees. Some prisoners haven’t seen their families for years.

The Israeli Occupation Forces take particular delight in disrupting the education of Palestinian children. During the present round of final year Tawjihi examinations, several children were detained near Bethlehem on the way home and told to report to the Israeli intelligence office. Often when children report, they are detained for hours or days, miss their exams and fail their final year.

According to Prisoners rights organisation Addameer,

Since the beginning of this Intifada in September 2000, over 2500 children have been arrested. Currently there are at least 340 Palestinian children being held in Israeli Prisons.

According to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted on 20 November 1989 and entered into force on 2 September1990 (to which Israel is a signatory), and to relevant Israeli law, a child is defined as every human being under the age of 18 years. This is reiterated in the UN Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty, adopted by General Assembly Resolution 45/113 of 14 December 1990. However, Palestinian children from the age of 16 years are considered adults under Israeli military regulations governing the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

As is the case with adult prisoners, child detainees are transferred to prisons located within Israel. The primary prisons in which Palestinian child male detainees are held are Hasharon (Telmond), near Netanya, and Megiddo, near Haifa. Girl child prisoners are transferred to Neve Tertza Prison (Ramleh). Interrogation of child detainees takes place at Beit El and Huwarra Interrogation Centers, and occasionally other interrogation centers, and Palestinian child administrative detainees are held with adult administrative detainees at both Ofer and Negev Military Prison Camps. Palestinian children are primarily arrested at Israeli military checkpoints, from their homes, or from the street.

Since children 16 years and older are regarded by Israel as adults, they are not offered an education whilst in detainment or prison, are subject to medical negligence and are in many cases placed in the general criminal prison population where they are subject to harassment.

According to Addameer, Israel fails UN Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty.

Palestinian child prisoners are held in inhumane conditions of detention, made to live in overcrowded and filthy cells. Often, children are placed in small solitary confinement cells, measuring 1.5 square meters, that are extremely humid and have no windows for natural light, or with bright artificial light that is continuously kept on. This forces prisoners to remain awake at all times, depriving the prisoner of sleep for days in some cases. Prisoners do not receive sufficient food to meet the daily nutrition requirements for children, are prevented from going to the toilet at their will, and are not allowed a change of clothing.

Related Links

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Nael Al-Barghouthi – Dean of the Palestinian prisoners
Barghouti longest-held political prisoner
Nael and Fakhri Barghouti were part of a Fatah squad who killed an Israeli officer in 1978

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