Mandela Lawyer Meets Inmates at Ha Darim Prison

Press Statement# 48

8 September 2004

For Immediate Release

The administration of Ha Darim Prison allowed Mandela’s lawyer advocate Buthaina Duqmaq to meet with Samir Qanttar on 8 September 2004. Qanttar is the Dean of Arab and Lebanese prisoners in Israeli custody. At the same time, the administration restricted Ms. Duqmaq from meeting three other inmates because of emergency conditions at the prison. Ms. Duqmaq had a special permit allowing her to meet with Yahia Senoir, Houssam Khader and Sultan ‘Ajlouni.

Mr. Qanttar affirmed the prisoners decided to suspend the hunger strike in order to start negotiations with the Israeli prison authorities. The latter had agreed to certain minor demands. Negotiations over more important demands will go on for a month after which the prisoners would decide whether to resume their hunger strike or call it off.

Mr. Qanttar asserted negotiations will start next week regarding the glass partition in the visiting area, correspondence programs with Arab and Palestinian universities and resumption of family visits especially for those refused for security reasons.

On her way out, Ms. Duqmaq saw a prisoner-transport vehicle at the prison gate carrying Ismail Shakshak and Khader ‘Adnan, two Palestinian internees held under administrative detention. The inmates who were transferred from Kfar Youna prison affirmed they are still on hunger strike demanding internees under administrative detention to be transferred to military detention compounds. The Mandela Institute followed up their case and wrote to the relevant Israeli authorities demanding to know their whereabouts. The Institute learned Mr. Shakshak was transferred to Section 6 at Ha Sharon prison while Mr. ‘Adnan was taken to Ovik prison.

  Conditions Begin to Normalize After Strike

Press Statement#  47

7 September 2004

For Immediate Release

In her first visit after suspension of the hunger strike, advocate Buthaina Duqmaq paid a visit to Nafha Prison on 7 September 2004. Ms. Duqmaq met the prisoners’ representative Tawfic Abu-Na’im along with Omar Barghouthi, Issa Shabanah and Tareq Zaydan.

Abu-Na’im affirmed negotiations with the prison administration are still on. Conditions began to normalize as the administration returned the electrical equipment it had confiscated earlier, extended the exercise period to one and a half hour and returned TV reception but restricted Al-Jazeera, Palestine Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) and al-Manar networks. The administration brought several inmates from solitary confinement back to common holding cells. These included Hafez Quduss, Nasser Issa, Mohammad Touss, Jamil Misk, Farid Qaissy and Mohammad Hassan.

Mr. Abu-Na’im asserted conditions at prisons need about one month to stabilize before the beginning of negotiations over the remaining issues. These are:

–         Removal of the glass partition in the visiting area;

–         Allowing prisoners to join correspondence programs with Arab and Palestinian universities;

–         Installation of public telephones inside prison sections;

–         Ending the policy of strip search;

–         Return of security prisoners to work the kitchens;

–         Return the Laundromat back to work.

In his turn, Mr. Omar Barghouthi confirmed the prison authority escalated its punitive measures against inmates during the hunger strike including beatings. He asserted Israeli measures did not affect the unity and steadfastness of prisoners. Inmates expressed gratitude for the popular solidarity shown by Arab and Palestinian masses during the hunger strike and its positive role in their battle for dignity and freedom.

Mandela: Prisoners Adjourn Hunger Strike until Next Sunday

Press Statement 46
2 September 2004
For Immediate Release

In an interview with Mandela’s lawyer Buthaina Duqmaq at Ha Darim Prison on 2 September 2004, inmates Houssam Khader and Samir Qanttar affirmed negotiations with the Israeli Prison Authority have actually begun
on day one of the hunger strike contrary to what Israeli media has been reporting. They asserted the popular and organized solidarity movement with the prisoners forced Israeli authorities into negotiations with the striking prisoners. Both inmates emphasized the prisoners’ high spirits to challenge the status quo and their coalescence with the committee leading the strike coerced the Israeli side into marathon-like negotiations to lessen the negative impact of the strike on Israeli image. Khader and Qanttar affirmed the committee is made of the following prisoners:
Sheikh Mohammad Abu-Tair, Tawfic Abu-Na’im, Houssam Khader*, Samir Qanttar**, Walid Daqqa, Yahia Senoir, Hassan Maqadmah, Younis Ershaid, Rouhy Mushtaha, Wael Fannouna, Taher Zayyoud and Abdul-Khaleq Natsha.

On 21 August 2004, Israeli prison authorities placed Tawfic Abu-Na’im, Houssam Khader and Mohammad Abu-Tair in solitary confinement at Ovik Prison. Their cells lack the basic minimum standards for human life. Other members of the committee were placed in two poorly-ventilated rooms and shed heavy spotlights at

Mr. Khader and Mr. Qanttar informed Ms. Duqmaq that Mr. Gibson, Head of General Security in the Israeli
Prison Authority, Mr. Itzaq Jabay, Director of Prison Intelligence and the Commander of the so-called
Southern Command –known as Nazim- and began negotiations with the prisoners’ committee. No agreements were reached. The Israeli authorities transferred the leadership committee to Jalama Prison.

Director of the Israeli Prison Authority, deputy and wardens of Israeli prisons came to meet the leadership
committee at Jalama on 31 August 2004. The meeting lasted from 4:00 PM until 7:00 PM. An agreement was
reached whereby the Israeli side agreed to the prisoners’ demands regarding improvement of humanitarian conditions. The Israelis promised to examine other demands which they consider of security
nature two weeks after the end of the hunger strike.

The Israeli Prison Authority agreed to transfer every committee member that was placed in solitary confinement back to the prison he was originally in to brief the prisoners of the outcome of negotiations. Accordingly, this part of the deal was executed on Wednesday 1 September 2004.

Following the transfer of inmates Khader and Qanttar to Ha Darim Prison, prisoners there decided to adjourn
their hunger strike until Sunday 5 September 2004 but will continue o take liquids only. This decision
applies to all Israeli prisons except Beer Shiva’ as its representative Tawfic Abu-Na’im and the Beer
Shiva’ administration had failed to agree on certain issues during their meeting at Jalama prison. The Ha
Darim administration allowed Mr. Qanttar to telephone Tawfic Abu-Na’im to discuss the disputed issues. No
agreement regarding adjournment of the strike at Beer Shiva’ was reported.

Following is a letter from inmates at Ha Darim Prison to the Arab and Palestinian masses engaged in popular
and organized solidarity activities with the striking prisoners.

“The spirit of challenge and steadfastness which characterized our masses on the outside and the prisoners’ movement on the inside had proved that the prisoners’ will could overcome the policies of oppression and tormenting we had faced for years. We strongly declare that we did not stop our hunger strike but only adjourned it in order to start negotiations to improve the prison conditions and to ensure dignified living for our colleagues. We hope to reach a genuine understanding with the prison authority and close several files which if left open could trigger more strikes and could let an atmosphere of tension prevail”.

  Inmates at Nafha Prison Boycott Clinic

Press Statement #44

31 August 2004

For Immediate Release

Ina an interview with advocate Buthaina Duqmaq, Abdul-Salam Shukry and Mohmoud Haskour, two Palestinian prisoners, affirmed inmates at Nafha Prison have high spirits and vow to continue the hunger strike until their humanitarian and just demands are realized. They asserted any deal between the prisoners and the Israeli prison authorities must be concluded only with prisoners’ leadership. Israeli military authorities have scattered prison leaders among several isolation sections to create a wedge among inmates.

Advocate Duqmaq learned that several infirm cases were reported at Nafha Prison. The administration had forced two infirm prisoners into signing an undertaking which states: “We are solely responsible  for our safety and wellbeing should we continue the hunger strike”. The infirm prisoners are Issa Shabaneh who suffers cardiac problems and Issa Jabarin who was diagnosed with renal problems. Ms. Duqmaq indicated Fahmy Mashahra and Abdul-Halim Abdullah were among 4 infirm cases that were transferred to hospital. Both had stomach disorders and were vomiting blood. In protest, inmates decided to boycott the prison clinic since 26 August 2004. The administration tried to distribute vitamins on 30 August 2004 but the prisoners refused taking them.

Additionally, inmates complained about ill treatment and physical violence perpetrated against them by Israeli soldiers especially during transfer to and from military courts. They also complained about the humiliating strip search and their locking up in temporary detention stations up to four days under harsh circumstances. Prisoners protested the provocative arbitrary daily search of their cells despite the fact that prison authorities had confiscated all personal effects on the first day of the hunger strike.

The Nafha Prison administration conducted a series of transfers between prisons whereby it transferred 50 inmates to Ashqelon and brought 50 inmates from Ashqelon and Ha Liqdar to Nafha. The administration also designated a special room for common criminal

inmates who were brought in from other sections or prisons to torment striking  prisoners■

  Israeli Military Tribunal Passes Heavy Sentence on Palestinian Prisoner

Press Statement# 43

31 August 2004

For Immediate Release

A military tribunal at ‘Ofar military court endorsed a heavy sentence on Haitham Salheyah, a 19-year old Palestinian, from Ramallah. Salheyah, a high school student, was sentenced for two life sentences plus fifty years in prison. He was arrested on 6 November 2002 during the Israeli incursion into Ramallah. His family asserted he was in high spirits despite his participation in the hunger strike declared on 15 August 2004.

Additionally, the Mandela Institute noticed that Israeli military tribunals have been passing heavy sentences on Palestinian prisoners. For example, a military tribunal at Salem military court sentenced Qahira Sa’id Sa’ady, a Palestinian female, on 30 August 2004 to three life sentences■

   Striking Inmates Boycott Prison Clinic

Press Statement 42
30 August 2004
For Immediate Release

Mandela’s lawyer Buthaina Duqmaq affirmed Israeli prison authorities effected a series of transfers between Galbou’ and Shatta prisons. Ms. Duqmaq was made to wait for two and a half hours at the prison gate until she could meet with Yasser Abu-Bakr for five minutes. The administration claimed they were in the middle of moving inmates between the two prisons.

Mr. Abu-Bakr affirmed the administration transferred 50 infirm prisoners from Galbou’ to Shatta and 90 inmates, on hunger strike, from Shatta to Galbou’. He explained the administration carried out several
transfers within the same prison to create a sense of instability among the prisoners.

Advocate Duqmaq noticed clear signs of fatigue and loss of weight upon Mr. Abu-Bakr who asserted high
spirits prevail among the prisoners despite threatening health conditions of infirm prisoners that are on hunger strike. Inmates at Galbou’ have decided to boycott the prison’s clinic because of its relentless efforts to force the prisoners into breaking the strike. Medical officials have withheld medical care for striking inmates.

Mr. Abu-Bakr called upon legal and international NGOs to intervene rapidly in order to save the lives of
Palestinian political prisoners.

On the other hand and during communications to organize a visit to Ovik Prison, the Mandela Institute
learned that Houssam Khader, Samir Qanttar and Walid Daqqa, who were held in isolation, were transferred to the interrogation section at Jalama Prison. Mandela’s sources asserted this arbitrary measure is part of the
systematic policy of the Israeli Prison Authority to isolate the leaders and higher cadres in the prison in
order to break the prisoners’ hunger strike

Striking Prisoners Call Prison Clinics “Fruit and Vegetable Stands”

Press Statement# 41

26 August 2004

For Immediate Release

Advocate Buthaina Duqmaq visited the Eischel isolation  section at Beer Shiva’ Prison on Thursday 26 August 2004. She met with Imad Na’im Sheriff and Jihad al-Room, two Palestinian prisoners incarcerated at Eischel. They affirmed the administration brought an

army force of 50-60 soldiers strong. The force, included female soldiers, was supposed to search holding cells. The administration threatened to use force if the prisoners refuse to get out of their cells. This is the first time Beer Shiva’s administration use female soldiers in raiding cells and to perform the daily count. The prison authority placed ‘Abed ‘Abed, a Palestinian from Gaza, in solitary confinement.

Additionally, both prisoners affirmed the Eischel section administration confiscated all personal effects from the cells including pillows, hygiene material, salt, bottled liquids and electrical appliances. It also closed down the public Laundromat and shortened the exercise time from 3 hours to one.

The administration transferred 40 infirm prisoners to Ha Liqdar Section. Through loudspeakers, prison officials called upon the prisoners to break their hunger strike and tried scare them of serious consequences like hair loss, rheumatism and renal failure should they continue the strike. In a blatant attempt to sow dissension, prison officials claimed the Palestinian people are eating well and did not care for the prisoners and their hunger strike but care only about who will be the next Super Star of the  Arabs.

In yet another desperate move to break the strike, the administration placed loads of fruit and vegetables inside the prison clinic. Prison doctors used the fresh produce to tempt inmates into breaking their strike in return for medical care. Prisoners affirmed the prison clinic resembled a farmer’s fruit stand.

They were confident the Palestinian people will not spare any form of solidarity with the prisoners and vowed to continue the strike. Ms. Duqmaq described the prisoners with high spirits and strong resolve despite the psychological warfare conducted by the prison authorities

The Mandela Institute Welcomes Gandhi’s Visit to the Occupied Palestinian Territories

Press Statement# 40

26 August 2004

For Immediate Release

The Mandela Institute for Human Rights welcomes the visit to the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) by Aaron Gandhi, grandson of the spiritual leader of India Mohandas K. Gandhi. The Institute commends Mr. Gandhi’s remarks in which he described Israeli practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territories as “Worse than those of the past Apartheid regime of South Africa”.

Mr. Gandhi asserted the racist separation wall aims to usurp more Palestinian land as it encircles Palestinian towns and villages and not to protect Israel’s security. Gandhi also visited the occupied city of Jerusalem where he met national and religious leaders and joined families of Palestinian prisoners at the solidarity tent.

Today in Ramallah, Palestinian crowds gathered to salute Mr. Gandhi. They commended his noble and genuine feelings which prompted his call for Israel to provide the basic minimum of dignified life for the Palestinian prisoners.

The Mandela Institute believes Mr. Gandhi’s trip to the Occupied Palestinian Territories is an important step that will foster the foundations of justice and peace towards security and stability in the region■

  A Statement by the Israeli Prison Authority for Striking Prisoners

Press Statement #39

25 August 2004

For Immediate Release

The administration of Ha Darim Prison allowed advocate Buthaina Duqmaq visit Rakad Salem, the Secretary-General of the Arab Liberation Front, on 25 August 2004 but restricted her from meeting others.

Ms. Duqmaq affirmed prison officials had transferred dozens of striking inmates on tretchers to the prison clinic. Signs of fatigue, even illness, were obvious on the prisoners after the tenth day of the strike.

Advocate Duqmaq asserted the presence of infirm cases with Diabetes and cardiac  roblems among the strikers.

Mandela’s lawyer also affirmed the prison administration had distributed the following statement

among the inmates: “From the prison administration to all prisoners, as your strike passes its tenth day you will experience the following difficulties: you’ll get sick, you’ll suffer chronic diseases such as dehydration, depression, fever, loss of consciousness and renal failure. We are concerned for your wellbeing. Yet, for humanitarian reasons we shall provide you with medical care even if you continued your hunger strike. But, because of medical and humanitarian norms we shall feed you by force”.

The statement included sentences like “Marwan Barghouthi and other leaders are not on hunger strike and 97% of the Palestinian National Authority officials are thieves who rob your money. So, you should worry about that. We found cigarettes and dried food in cells of your leaders who claim they care about you”.

Nevertheless, Palestinian prisoners are fully aware of the psychological warfare instigated against them by the Israeli prison authorities in order to break their resolve and steadfastness. The Palestinian prison movement has been vigilant for Israeli ploys. This

statement is nothing but a despicable attempt to break the hunger strike and the prisoners’ unity in their struggle for freedom and dignity. The will of hunger will eventually conquer the Israeli will of oppression towards realizing the prisoners’ humanitarian and just demands■

  Conditions of Prisoners Deteriorate Further at Galbou’ and Shatta Prisons

Press Statement 38

23 August 2004

For Immediate Release

Palestinian prisoners vowed to continue the hunger strike until their humanitarian and just demands are realized. In an interview with advocate Buthaina Duqmaq, they affirmed being in high spirits. Ms. Duqmaq, who visited Galbou’ and Shatta prisons on Monday 23 August 2004, reported that 45 infirm prisoners at both detention facilities did not join the hunger strike. These cases were isolated in Section 3 at Galbou’ Prison. Yet, other infirm prisoners like Hussein Sawa’dah and Mahmoud Anise, held in section 5 at Galbou’, had stopped taking their medication and joined the strike. Infirm inmates in section 4 did join the strike but continue to take their medication.

Advocate Duqmaq affirmed Ibrahim Houshiah, a Palestinian political prisoner, was severely beaten during transfer to the clinic at Shatta Prison. He was also placed in solitary confinement in an attempt to break his resolve and force him to compromise the

strike in return for medical treatment.

Advocate Duqmaq affirmed a number of inmates sleep on the floor as they can not climb to their upper beds.

They are also unable to stand up for the daily count.

The administration had appropriated the bottled water the prisoners had kept in their cells but returned it on the day of advocate Duqmaq visit.

Additionally, the administration shortened the exercise time to one hour and placed Mukhless Burghal in solitary confinement. Prison officials appropriated wood bed panels claiming the prisoners might use them during confrontations. In order to provoke striking

inmates, guards and other prison officials barbeque meat in the prison corridors.

The administration of Shatta Prison tried to revoke Ms. Duqmaq visit by holding her for three hours at the prison gate. At the end and because of advocate Duqmaq perseverance, the administration allowed the visit but restricted the number of inmates alleging they were “Sentenced prisoners.

Israeli Soldiers Assault Prisoners at Court

Press Statement# 37

22 August 2004

For Immediate Release

Sources close to the Mandela Institute affirmed Israeli soldiers did assault Palestinian prisoners with rifle butts on 22 August 2004. The prisoners refused to appear in front of the military tribunal at Salem Military Court with their upper and lower limbs cuffed with metal shackles. Prisoners and soldiers got into a fist fight. Masslama Thabet, a Palestinian

prisoner from the village of Ramin near Tulqarem and has been in custody since 6 June 2004, was seriously injured. He was transferred to the clinic at Megiddo, a military detention compound, northwest of Jenin for treatment. Three hours later, Mr. Thabet was brought back and the military tribunal sentenced him to 25 years in prison. Israeli soldiers poured hot water over Mr. Thabet as he was leaving the court. Mr. Thabet, on hunger strike since 15 August 2004, was held at Galbou’ Prison.

The Mandela Institute is gravely concerned over the amount of physical violence perpetrated by Israeli soldiers against Palestinian prisoners. The Institute calls upon the Israeli military authorities to curb the violence and ill treatment of Palestinian prisoners.

Additionally, the Institute calls upon local, regional and international human rights NGOs to promptly intervene and demand the Israeli government honor its ethical and legal obligations towards Palestinian political prisoners■

Israeli Prison Authority Restricts Lawyer Visits

Press Statement 33

12 August 2004,

For Immediate Release

The Mandela Institute for Human Rights expresses grave concern over the Israeli escalation of systematic measures against Palestinian political prisoners. The latest of such measures was the restriction of lawyer visits.

The Israeli action aims to suppress news of the hunger strike, Palestinian political prisoners, intended in few days. The strike is to protest the worsening incarceration conditions in Israeli detention facilities including torture and/or ill treatment and the daily provocative and humiliating strip search.

Israeli military authorities hold 7500 Arab and Palestinian prisoners in three types of detention facilities i.e. central prisons, military detention compounds and interrogation centers. About 4000 prisoners are held in central prisons and they will be affected by the strike.

Accordingly, the administrations of Ha Darim and Tal Mund prisons restricted, on 12 August 2004, advocate Buthaina Duqmaq and other colleagues from visiting clients. It is worth to note the Mandela Institute had obtained written permission by the appropriate Israeli authority to conduct the visit and meet with certain political prisoners■

Israeli Military Authorities Isolate Samir Qanttar and Houssam Khader

Press Statement

22 August 2004

For Immediate Release

Reliable sources close to the Mandela Institute for   Human Rights affirmed the administration at Ha Darim  Prison transferred Samir Qanttar, Dean of Lebanese prisoners, and Houssam Khader, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, to the Ovik isolation section. The move is a part of systemic efforts by the Israeli Prison Authority to break the hunger strike.

Similarly, such moves are intended to affect a feeling of instability around the prisoner and to break the connection between the prisoner and his/her lawyer.

Israeli prison authorities have moved the same inmate 2-3 times per day within the same prison.

Furthermore, the administration at Nafha Prison transferred the prisoners’ representative Tawfic Abu-Na’im into isolation at Eischel Section of Beer Shiva’ Prison.

Early this morning, the Mandela Institute sent a letter to the Ovik administration  requesting permission for its lawyers to meet Mr. Qanttar and Mr. Khader. Prison officials informed the institute later in the afternoon the request was denied without divulging the reasons■