The Israeli Prison Service (IPS) transferred at least 33 Palestinian child detainees on Monday from Ofer prison to Damoun without the presence of adult representatives, a move slammed by Palestinian activists and civil organisations.
In a statement, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) warned it undermines the responsibility to provide caretaker rights for minors.
“This move puts the minors at risk of abusive measures by the IPS in the absence of their adult overseers,” PPS said.
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Amina al-Tawil, a researcher at the Palestinian Prisoners’ Center for Studies, said the transfer is in violation of the law that states prisoners under the age of 18 cannot be moved from one prison to another without adult representatives.
“In addition to the risk of being physically abused by Israeli forces, this transfer puts the lives of these Palestinian children in danger,” she told Al Jazeera, speaking from Ramallah.
“During this cold weather, the minors will not have access to heaters or even adequate clothing to keep warm,” she said. “Some of them have also sustained injuries during their arrests, which can get worse throughout the move.”
The transfer of Palestinian prisoners is a notorious process that involves “the bosta” – a vehicle with blacked-out windows and tightly divided cells with metal chairs, to which prisoners are chained. Usually, such rides can take up to 12 hours or more, with no rest stops, food, or toilet breaks.
Ofer prison is located on the outskirts of the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, whereas the Damoun facility is in the coastal city of Haifa.
“Damoun is one of the worst prisons,” al-Tawil said. “Its cells, according to released prisoners who had previously spent time there, are full of mould and not fit for human conditions, and does not provide daily necessities.”
Damoun also houses Israeli prisoners held on criminal charges, such as murder, robbery, and drug smuggling. While Israel does not house Palestinian security prisoners – those arrested by the Israeli army – in the same cells as Israeli criminals, the threat to Palestinians comes via transfer processes in shared bostas.
“This close contact puts the lives of Palestinian prisoners – men, women and children – at risk, as Israeli prisoners make gestures of slitting their throats, threats, and constant stream of verbal abuse,” al-Tawil said. “A child will no doubt get affected by this, adding more pressure to his or her mental state.”
The IPS has, at the time of publication, given no reason for the transfer of Palestinian minors, and did not respond to Al Jazeera for comment. Palestinian groups described the move as “arbitrary”, and despite being the norm for Palestinian adult prisoners, this case involving dozens of children is unusual.
Violations against Palestinian children
According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, more than 12,000 Palestinian children have been detained by the Israeli army since the year 2000, and serve time in the same detention facilities as adult Palestinian prisoners.
Humanitarian groups such as UNICEF have long documented Israeli violations against Palestinian children, who are prosecuted in Israeli military courts. It is common practice for Israeli forces to interrogate the children without the presence of their parents or guardians, and many have reported being coerced into signing confessions written in Hebrew – a language they do not know.
Currently, there are 200 minors in Israeli jails, scattered in Ofer, Damoun and Megiddo. Palestinian adult prisoners in Ofer usually take care of them by helping them adjust to their new circumstances, drawing up lesson plans, offering psychological support, and representing them in any dispute with the IPS.
Loay Mansi, a former Palestinian prisoner and overseer of child prisoners in Ofer, told local Palestinian news agencies that alongside lessons about Palestinian culture and history, his role was to provide an education to the minors that would help them for life after prison, such as Arabic and English classes.
Mansi, who spent 15 years in Israeli prisons before being released late last year, also called on children and human rights organisations to visit Damoun prison “to see first-hand the suffering of the Palestinian minors and the extent of Israeli violations committed against them”.
Palestinian Authority rejects UAE aid sent via Israeli airport |NationalTribune.com
The Palestinian Authority (PA) has rejected an aid shipment from the United Arab Emirates, according to the Palestinian health minister. In a news conference on Thursday, Mai Kaila said her country refused to receive the medical aid as the Emirati side ignored to coordinate with them. More: PA extends coronavirus state of emergency in occupied West…
The Palestinian Authority (PA) has rejected an aid shipment from the United Arab Emirates, according to the Palestinian health minister.
In a news conference on Thursday, Mai Kaila said her country refused to receive the medical aid as the Emirati side ignored to coordinate with them.
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“The UAE has not coordinated with us regarding the medical aid, and we reject to receive it without coordination,” said the minister.
“We are a sovereign country, and they should have coordinated with us first.”
Earlier on Thursday, Maan News Agency, known for being close to the PA, said citing informed sources the decision came as the aid arrived at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv.
‘Cover for normalisation’
On Tuesday, an Emirati flight carrying medical aid for Palestinians landed at an Israeli airport after taking off from Abu Dhabi, marking the first public flight between the two states despite the UAE not having any official ties with Israel.
Etihad Airways, the state-owned air carrier, confirmed the flight.
“Etihad Airways operated a dedicated humanitarian cargo flight from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv on 19 May to provide medical supplies to the Palestinians,” the airline told The Associated Press news agency on Tuesday.
Israeli journalist Itay Blumental tweeted two photos of the aircraft, with the caption: “To Palestinians, with love from Abu Dhabi through Israel.”
לפלסטינים באהבה 😀🇦🇪🇮🇱🇵🇸- מאבו דאבי דרך ישראל. @eliorlevy @DanielSal_87 @ynetalerts pic.twitter.com/fOCRGFVDWU
— איתי בלומנטל Itay Blumental (@ItayBlumental) May 19, 2020
“The UAE authorities did not coordinate with the state of Palestine before sending the aid,” the government sources said, adding that “Palestinians refuse to be a bridge [for Arab countries] seeking to have normalised ties with Israel.”
They asserted that any assistance meant to be sent to the Palestinian people should be coordinated with the PA first.
“Sending them directly to Israel constitutes a cover for normalisation,” they added.
Covert ties with Israel
Unlike Jordan and Egypt, both of which signed peace treaties with Israel in 1978 and 1994, respectively, other Arab states officially deny having ties with Israel, which has been occupying Palestinian territories for decades.
In recent years, however, several Gulf states such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman, have cultivated covert ties with Israel.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in January 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “There is an alignment of Israel and other countries in the Middle East that would have been unimaginable 10 years ago.”
“Certainly in my lifetime, I never saw anything like it and I’m at the age of the State of Israel more or less, so it’s an extraordinary thing.”
Two months later, in March, Saudi Arabia allowed an Israel-bound passenger plane to cross through its airspace for the first time ever, breaking a 70-year ban.
In October the same year, Netanyahu met with Oman’s Sultan Qaboos in Muscat in a surprise, unannounced trip.
Palestinian groups cancel mass Gaza rallies due to coronavirus
Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip have cancelled mass rallies planned for next week along the border with Israel amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus in the densely-populated territory, organisers said on Saturday. The rallies were called for March 30 to mark the second anniversary of the so-called “Great March of Return” which…
Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip have cancelled mass rallies planned for next week along the border with Israel amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus in the densely-populated territory, organisers said on Saturday.
The rallies were called for March 30 to mark the second anniversary of the so-called “Great March of Return” which had prompted weekly protests by Palestinians seeking to regain access to land, now in Israel, from which their ancestors were forced to flee during the Nakba, the Palestinian exodus, in 1947-48.
They also mark Palestinian Land Day which commemorates the events of March 30, 1976, when Israeli police shot and killed six Palestinian citizens of Israel as they protested against the Israeli government’s expropriation of land.
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“We call upon our people not to go to the Return encampments on March 30 and to stay home in order to maintain the safety of our people in the face of this lethal pandemic,” said Khaled al-Batsh, a senior member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) armed group.
Instead, al-Batsh called on Palestinians in Gaza to mark the day by raising Palestinian flags on their rooftops and burning Israeli ones.
Traffic will also be stopped for an hour and sirens will sound across the territory to mark the occasion, the statement said, adding that a news conference would also be held for a limited number of attendees.
According to Gaza medical officials, 215 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers firing from the other side of the border during the protests, with another 8,000 suffering gunshot wounds. In the past few months, the weekly protests have been smaller.
One Israeli soldier was killed by a Palestinian sniper during the demonstrations.
In 2019, UN Human Rights Council investigators said Israeli forces may have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, with children and paramedics among the casualties.
So far, nine out of the 97 coronavirus cases in the Palestinian territories have been confirmed in the Gaza Strip.
Gaza’s hospitals, which were overwhelmed during the protests by gunshot wounds and amputations, are now gearing up for the challenge of containing the coronavirus in the coastal enclave of two million Palestinians, many living in refugee camps.
Palestinian teen shot dead by Israeli army in occupied West Bank
A Palestinian teenager has been shot dead in the occupied West Bank as Israeli forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds in the town of Beita near the city of Nablus. The teenager, identified as 15-year-old Mohammed Hamayel, “died as a result of being shot in the face with live ammunition by the…
A Palestinian teenager has been shot dead in the occupied West Bank as Israeli forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds in the town of Beita near the city of Nablus.
The teenager, identified as 15-year-old Mohammed Hamayel, “died as a result of being shot in the face with live ammunition by the (Israeli) occupation” during the clashes, the Palestinian Health Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
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At least 13 wounded Palestinians were taken to a hospital, the ministry added.
According to Maan news agency, at least three Palestinians were also arrested.
Al Jazeera’s Nida Ibrahim, reporting from the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, said on-site medics treated more than 112 injuries, adding that at least one more person remains in critical condition.
“Locals in the area say Jabal al-Armeh [al-Armeh mountain] is a very high area … one of the highest in the Nablus area, and settlers have been eyeing this location for years, since the 1980s,” Ibrahim said.
“There have been confrontations between Palestinians and Israeli settlers there. Usually, settlers like to settle on high areas … on hilltops … this is a way for them to keep an upper hand if anything happens, including demonstrations,” she said.
Demonstrators have been staging sit-ins in the hilltop village of Jabal al-Armeh since February 28 to deter illegal Israeli settlers from establishing a settlement outpost.
Beita Mayor Fuad Maali said the settlers renewed their attempt to reach the top of the mountain overnight, but hundreds of the town’s residents had camped out to block settlers the effort.
Palestinian youths stand amidst tear gas smoke during clashes with the Israeli armed forces [Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP]
Most of Israel’s settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and occupied West Bank are built with the government’s permission, outposts are constructed without authorisation and are illegal under Israeli law but still receive governmental support and financial assistance.
Under international law, settlements and outposts are considered illegal.
With the signing of the Oslo Accords, settlement-building was due to cease, but Israel continued to expand existing settlements on Palestinian land.
According to the news agency Wafa, Palestinians say settlers have become emboldened after US President Donald Trump’s Middle East Plan was announced in January following which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to annex settlements.
On Tuesday, Palestinian leaders slammed the Israeli defence ministry’s approval of planning for a road that would separate Palestinians and Israeli commuters east of Jerusalem – a highly controversial move meant to help advance a settlement plan in the strategically sensitive E1 region.
Israel’s plan to expand the Ma’ale Adumim settlement had been frozen since 2012 under international criticism, before it was revived by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu two weeks ago.
A week before Israel’s third election in less than a year that took place earlier this month, Netanyahu pledged to build 3,500 new illegal settler homes in the E1 region of the West Bank.
Some 600,000 Israeli settlers live in the occupied West Bank and Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem among about 2.9 million Palestinians.
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