On the International Women’s Day, Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS) revealed that 22 Palestinian female detainees are currently held in Israeli jails including 17 detained in Hasharon prison.
Five female detainees were recently detained including Shereen Issawi, held in Maskoubiya detention centre, Maisoon Sweiti and the human rights activist Nermin Salem, in addition to Ahlem Issa, held in Ashkelon detention centre and Rim Hamarsheh who is detained in Salem investigation centre.
Lena Jarboni, 34, from Buttof village inside Palestine 1948, is the longest serving Palestinian female prisoner inside Israeli jails. She was arrested in 2002 and sentenced to 17 years. She spent 11 years behind Israeli bars. The youngest female detainee held in Israeli jails is the 18 years old Maram Hassouna.
Six Palestinian female detainees suffer from different diseases including high blood pressure, diabetes, inflammation, migraine, and Rheumatism.
During their imprisonment, two Palestinian female detainees were engaged to another two male detainees whilst in Israeli jails, including Mona Ka’adan who was arrested in November 2012 and engaged to Ibrahim Aghbarieh, sentenced to 3 life-terms in prison plus 10 years and Donia Waqed who is arrested in May 2013 and engaged to Mohammed Waqed, who is in turn sentenced to 29 years.
Two female detainees are from occupied Jerusalem including Shereen Issawi and Intissar Sayad.
Palestinian female political and detainees suffer harsh detention conditions due to the Israeli prison administration’s deliberate medical negligence, ill-treatment, humiliating strip search, and ban on family visits in a clear violation of basic human rights and international law.
Since the occupation of Palestine in 1948, more than 800,000 Palestinians have been imprisoned. Different groups of the Palestinian society are exposed to Israeli arrest campaigns, including children, women and the elderly. For decades, Palestinian female prisoners and detainees have been jailed by Israel and exposed to physical and psychological torture, in violation of humanitarian law. Mothers are disconnected from their families and young female prisoners grow up within jails. The result: a humanitarian crisis storming in a large number of Palestinian families.
The treatment of female Palestinian prisoners is a violation of Articles 32, 49 and 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Article 27 of this convention asserts that women should enjoy special protection, a right ignored by Israel.
Since 1967, it is estimated that more than 15,000 Palestinian women were arrested by Israel. No accurate data is available for the period since the establishment of Israel in 1948 up to 1967. According to human rights organisations, the number of female political prisoners and detainees was 110 at the beginning of 2011. About 35 of them were released in a prisoner swap deal conducted between Hamas and Israel. In February 2013, there were twelve female political prisoners and detainees. The Israeli authorities continue to arrest women on a regular basis.
Causes of Arrests:
Women are arrested and jailed for different periods of time, ranging from a couple of hours to several years. The main cause for arresting them is to put pressure on their imprisoned partners or relatives. In order to obtain confessions from prisoners, the male prisoners are being threatened that their imprisoned partner or relative will be harmed.
The majority of male Palestinian political prisoners and detainees are accused of ‘resisting’ Israel’s occupation or supporting ‘resistance’.
Often, the political prisoners and detainees are public figures including political personalities, intellectuals and members of religious groups.
Intimidation and Torture:
In order to obtain information, that in many cases does not exist, physical and psychological torture is exerted by Israeli prison authorities. Furthermore, religious freedom is often restricted, exemplified by the confiscation of the Holy book of the Qur’an and other religious books. Examples of violent torture are beating, prolonged handcuffing and plucking locks of hair. Given their gender, female prisoners are extremely vulnerable to sexual harassment. Some female prisoners were stripped searched and obliged to get naked and to set in squat position for a long period of time.