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 Important Data and Statistics on Palestinian Prisoners and the Grave Israeli Violations against Them

 a Report By Al-Dameer Association for Human Rights

April 21, 2009

A Special File on Palestinian Prisoners' Day 

In cooperation with
Mr. Abudul Nasser Ferwana
Researcher and Specialist in Prisoners Affairs
Participated in the preparation

Mr.  Samer Moussa
Lawyer of Al-Dameer Association for Human Rights

Series of special files no. (02 

File Summary:

Ø 9,500 detainees in Israeli jails, of whom 330 have been detained before Oslo Accord

 Ø Absence of prosecution and weakness of the official and popular support is one of the main reasons that helped the prisons administration to persist in its violations against prisoners.

About Al Dameer Association for Human Rights

Al Dameer Association for Human Rights is a Non -Governmental Organization (NGO), dedicated to defend human rights. The association was established in 1993 in coordination with Al Dameer Association in Ramallah and by a group of lawyers and others who are interested in human rights and democracy issues. Al Dameer is a member in the Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations "PNGO" in the Gaza Strip, and a member of the Arab Network for NGOs. 

Al Dameer Vision

 Al-Dameer is determined to play a leading role in the development, respect, protecting and promoting of human rights in the Palestinian society in the Gaza Strip emphasizing the importance of the Palestinian civilians’ rights particularly the prisoners’ rights, children's rights, the right to freedom of association and the right to sound and sustainable environment.

Al- Dameer’s Mission Statement:

Al-Dameer is an independent and unaffiliated NGO that aims to ensure the development of the principles of internationally recognized human right standards and values in the Gaza Strip. Al Dameer is guided by these principles as well as accountability and rule of law, transparency, tolerance, empowerment, participation and inclusion, equality, equity, non-discrimination and attention to vulnerable groups. 

Al Dameer Programs and Projects:

1-   Capacity Building program (CBP)

2-   Legal Assistance Unit(LAP)

3-   Human Rights Awareness and Education Program (HRAE)

4-   Children Right Program(CRP)

5-   Right to Association Program (RFAP)

5-   Right to a Sound and Sustainable Environment Program (RSSEP)

Members of Al Dameer Administrative Board

1-   Ra’fat Al Najjar                    Chair person of the Board

2-   Younis Al Jaro                      Vice-Chairman of the Board

3-   Marwan Abu Za’nona           Treasurer 

4-   Mostafa Ibrahim                    Secretary

5-   Mounira Al Fayoumi            Board Member

6-   Haider Eid                             Board Member

7-   Abd Al Raouf                        Board Member

Executive Director

Khalil Abu Shammala

Field Work Unit Staff

Fieldworker name


Mobile No.

Ali Shaqqura

Fieldworker, North Gaza


Sief Allah Yaghi

Fieldworker, Gaza City


Rami Alian

Fieldworker, Middle area


Samir Mekhamir

Field worker, Khan Younis and Rafah



Al Dameer Association for Human Rights was keen from a long time to issue a lot of publications and press releases that reveal the mounting suffering of Palestinian detainees in the Israeli jails. In most cases, Palestinian detainees are subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.  Al Dameer has intended to release a series of files that deal with the humanitarian and legal issues of the Palestinian detainees and prisoners in cooperation with Mr. Abudel Nasser Ferwana, researcher and specialist in Prisoners Affairs to represent and defend Palestinian detainees, and expose the violations perpetrated against them.

This file was issued on the occasion of Palestinian Prisoners Day that falls on Friday 17 April 2009. This occasion was adopted by the Palestinian National Council in its session in 1974, to remember the suffering of thousands of Palestinians detained in Israeli prisons; deprived of their freedom as a result of their struggle for the right to self-determination.

This year, Arab prisoners’ day falls on 22 April 2009. This day marks the detention of the ex prisoner Samir Al Qanttar, who was detained 30 years ago. This day is in fact to highly appreciate the heroism of all Arab prisoners held in Israeli jails, who are detained for defending Palestinian human rights and legitimate cause.  

On this day, the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been detained by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF).  There are currently around 9,500 Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons, of whom 360 are children and 65 are women. Palestinians have been killed or died inside Israeli prisons, as a lot of them died as a result of medical neglect and some of these are confined at the Ramleh prison.

It is noteworthy that all these detainees, who are now in Israeli jails, were detained Since the beginning of al-Aqsa Intifada on 28 September 2000, except 498 detainees who were detained before al-Aqsa Intifada.

Since the beginning of al-Aqsa Intifada on September 2000, Israel has intensified the detention of Palestinians. .  Approximately 68000 Palestinian prisoners, including 7700 children and 800 women, were detained in Israeli prisons and detention centers.  

Figures and Data

The number of Palestinian detainees increase as Israeli occupying forces continue to wage campaigns of arbitrary arrests and detentions against thousands of Palestinian civilians. According to Israeli prisons department and official Palestinian institutions,  there are currently around 9,500 Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons, of whom 870 are from the Gaza Strip, 315 from Jerusalem, 135 from the occupied territories of 1948 and about 8000 from the west bank. The number of Palestinians placed under administrative detention has increased to at least 550. Also, The Israeli military command also issued a military order enabling military officers to arrest and detains any person without presenting him before a judge or allowing access to legal counsel.  Palestinian detainees are not guaranteed a fair trial, and especially since the Israeli authorities started to categorize Gazan detainees as 'unlawful combatants’.

 Former Prisoners and Detainees

 “Former Prisoners” this expression was stated by the Palestinians on the prisoners and detainees in the Israeli jails before Oslo Accord and the establishment of Palestinian National Authority in May 1994. Their number were reduced to 330 detainee from all regions including, 3 prisoners from the occupied Golan Heights and they are Bashr and Sedqi Al Maqatand and Assem Al Wali. That was in addition to 45 prisoners from Jerusalem, the oldest one was Fouad Al Razam and another 20 prisoners from the occupied territories of 1948 , 132 prisoner from the west bank and 130 from the Gaza Strip.

There are a lot of Palestinian and Arab prisoners, who are still detained in Israeli jails.  This includes more than 95 who were sentenced to life sentences and some of whom have spent over 20 years in prison.

The prisoners who spent more than 25 years in prison and those who spent more than 25 years

1- Nael Saleh Abdullah Al Barghouti, from Ramallah and detained since 4 April 1978.

2- Fakhri Asfur Abdullah Al Barghouti from Ramallah, married and detained since 23 June 1978.

3- Akram Abdel-Aziz Mansour, from Qalqilya, detained since 2 August 1979.

4- Fouad Qassem Arafat Al Razam, from Jerusalem and detained since 30 January 1981.

5- Ibrahim Fadel Jaber from Hebron, married and detained since 8 January 1982.

6- Hassan Ali Salma from Ramallah, married and detained since 8 August 1982.

 7- Othman Ali Hamdan Othman, from Salfit and detained since 15 October 1982.

8- Sami Khalid Yunis, from the occupied territories of 1948, married and detained since 5 January 1983.

9- Karim Yousef Younis, from the occupied territories of 1948, and detained since 6 January 1983

10- - Maher Abdel-Latif Younis from the occupied territories of 1948 and detained since 20 January 1983.

 11- Ali Al Kayyal, from Gaza, married and detained since 30 May 1983.

Palestinian prisoners who have been killed or died inside Israeli prisons

To date, 196 Palestinians have been killed or died inside Israeli prisons, including 49 prisoners who died as a result of medical neglect or due to torture or due to deliberate killing after detention. That was in addition to killing due to shooting by live bullets, among those, were Asaad Al shawwa and Mohammed Al Ashaqar and others.

Palestinian detainees are in the most difficult and painful stages and perhaps face the harshest conditions from decades

This year, Palestinian Prisoners Day comes at a time when the Israeli authorities are escalating their grave violations against Palestinian detainees. The Israeli government took a decision to intensify arbitrary measures against Palestinian detainees, including the implementation of further discriminatory practices between detainees on the basis of political affiliation, especially after the failure of the Swap deal between Hamas and Israel. These new harsh measures constitute a further violation of Israel's legal obligations as an occupying State under IHL and all international conventions; particularly, the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and it sometimes mount to the level of war crimes. 

This escalation in arbitrary measures is just one further episode in a context of ongoing and systematic violations perpetrated by the IOF against Palestinian detainees. The violations start from the moment of arrest, which it self is often arbitrary. These prisoners are regularly subject to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, including poor detention conditions, denial of family visitation, deprivation of health care and other measures of administrative detention. 

Palestinian prisoners’ conditions are expected to be worsened in the near future due to the absence of legal and judicial prosecution and the weakness of popular and official support sometimes. That was the most prominent reason, which helped the prison administration to continue its violations against the prisoners and the detainees.

All the exerted efforts by official bodies and the humanitarian and right institutions or by the researchers and activists in this field do not meet the minimum needs of the detainees in the Israeli jails, which serves to effectively endorse violations to Palestinian detainees . There are many actions that should be taken, if the desire and will was found to ensure Israel’s respect for Palestinian prisoners’ rights. This silence encourages Israel to continue, and even increase, its violations.

Recently, Israel established a ministerial committee aimed at intentionally worsening the conditions of Palestinian prisoners, including the implementation of further discriminatory practices between detainees on the basis of political affiliation.

This escalation in arbitrary measures is just one further episode in a context of ongoing and systematic violations perpetrated by the IOF against Palestinian detainees.  Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails continue to be subject to wide-ranging violations of their rights and dignity. The specialists in prisoners’ affairs are aware of these violations. We are going to allocate the second part of the file to clarify the most prominent escalating violations against the detainees and prisoners.

These periods of administrative detention may be renewed indefinitely. Furthermore, Israel began to utilize the contested “unlawful combatant” concept with respect to Gazan prisoners.  In addition, during their recent offensive on the Gaza Strip, IOF arrested dozens of civilians from the Gaza strip.

IOF subject Palestinians detained in Israeli prisons to numerous instances of torture, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. These practices are ongoing despite a 1999 Israeli Supreme Court ruling that outlawed certain interrogation methods but left open the possibility for the Israeli Knesset to legalize torture, despite the efforts of a local and international campaign against torture in Israel.

IOF deny Palestinian prisoners their visitation rights via the imposition of different conditions that hinder or prevent visits of Palestinian families to their relatives in Israeli jails. These conditions include, linking visitations with the overall security situation, requiring that prisoners must not be security prisoners and that persons applying for visits must not have a security record, requiring that visitors be first-degree relatives and that brothers or sons applying for visits must be under the age of 18. Since 6 July 2007, families in Gaza have not been able to visit their relatives in Israeli jails.  

Solitary confinement in the past was limited to certain names and for a short period. But now, the Israeli government ratified the decision of   Isolating detainees that are affiliated to the Hamas movement in order to exert pressure on Palestinian factions on the issue of prisoner exchange.

Due to poor detention conditions, hundreds of Palestinian prisoners are suffering ill health. 49 prisoners died in Israeli jails since 1967. Institutions did not succeed in forcing Israel to improve the health conditions in prisons and detention centers, but on the contrary, it became worsened according to the prisoners’ testimonies.

The use of excessive force against detainees was rarely in the past, despite the death of detainees Al Shawwa and Al samodi in August 1988. After that special unit was formed called “Nachshon and Metsada” which was provided with the latest weapons. As a result, during the previous two years, the prisoner Mohammed Al Ashqar was killed in 2007 in Negev prison and hundreds of prisoners were injured.  

Killing after detention is a policy pursed by Israeli authorities since its occupation to Palestine. Thousands of Palestinians were executed according to this policy. Before 25 years the incident of (bus 300) occurred, when the Israeli authorities killed two Palestinian fighters after arresting them in front of the media. Despite the uproar that followed this incident, but the policy of killing citizens after their arrest continued and escalated significantly during al-Aqsa intifada.

Conclusion (results and recommendations)

According to what was mentioned above, we notice that the Israeli violations were rare and exceptional, but now it become daily and constant. Accordingly, Al Dameer Association for Human Rights assured on the following:

1- It asserts that the prisoner’s issue is a just issue of national consensus; likewise Palestinian prisoners constitute the conscience of our people and their national case.

2- It calls for combined efforts of all parties and institutions who are interested in the issue of Palestinian and Arab prisoners in Israeli jails, through establishing a mechanism that seeks to ensure effective cumulative results that may cause a qualitative leap in the documentary work to ensure that Palestinian prisoners are able to enjoy their rights.

3- The Israeli practices against Palestinian prisoners from the very commencement of detention are inhumane treatment. As a result, the national and human duty requires, on this occasion to unite behind the issue of prisoners and detainees, and to take bold action at all levels to support and sustain the prisoner’s issue.

4- Al Dameer calls on all the Palestinian activists who are interested in the prisoners issue to declare during this occasion an implementation of  program and a plan for the coming period in order to draw attention to Palestinian prisoners conditions and treatment as well as to  track the Israeli policies which are designed to break their spirit.

5- Al Dameer assured that the prisoners and detainees issue was and still a united issue and the centrality of the Palestinian people. 

6- Al Dameer assured that it will continue in its efforts to highlight the Israeli and detainees issues and their suffering as they are routinely subjected to various forms of torture and ill-treatment. These series of special files aimed to emphasize the salient issues relating to these prisoners,

7- Al Dameer calls upon the international community to uphold its legal and moral obligations towards the Palestinian prisoners in the Israeli Jails. It also calls them to send their delgates immediately to inform them about the conditions in which they are imprisoned.

8-Finally, Al Dameer Association for Human Rights calls on the international community to intervene immediately to pressure Israel to respect the minimum standards relevant to the treatment of detainees and prisoners as enshrined in the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and to guarantee that all prisoners, particularly, Gaza Strip prisoners are able to receive regular and humane family visits.




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