Monday, August 29, 2011

MADA demands freedom for Palestine journalists


29.08.11 - 14:57
The Palestinian Centre for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) has condemned the continued incarceration of five Palestinian journalists by Israeli authorities.

ImageThe five journalists come from across the West Bank and work for a wide variety of Arab media agencies. Their names are: Walid Khalid (‘Palestine’ newspaper), Nawaf Al-Amer (‘Al-Quds’ television), Samer Allawi (‘Al-Jazeera’, a satellite news channel), Osaid Amarneh (‘Al-Aqsa’ television) and Amer Abu Arafeh (‘Shab’ news agency). 

Two of the men, Khalid and Al-Amer, have been sentenced to administrative detention whilst Allawi, who was the head of Al-Jazeera’s Afghanistan Bureau before his arrest on 9th August, has yet to be charged.

In its statement, MADA has called for the immediate release of all the journalists, describing their imprisonment as part of an ‘enduring disregard for international human rights law in the occupied Palestinian territories’. 

‘MADA demands the immediate release of these unlawfully detained journalists and additionally demands the international community in its capacity in formal human rights institutions [sic] and the bodies of the United Nations exercise [sic] real pressure on the Israeli government to expedite their release.’

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Lawyer: Female detainee humiliated after surgery

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israeli prison guards humiliated a female detainee from the Gaza Strip who underwent hand surgery, the PA Ministry of Detainees' Affairs reported Saturday.

Prison guards tried to cuff Wafa Samir Al-Lubs, 26, to her hospital bed by her hands and legs, the ministry said in a statement.

Al-Lubs' lawyer protested, and the guards eventually agreed only to cuff her right hand and leg after the surgery.

Her lawyer said the guards verbally insulted her during a three-day stay in hospital and repeatedly refused to allow her to see a doctor post-operation.

The lawyer warned that Al-Luba was at risk of infection if the bandage wasn't changed.

Al-Luba is serving a 12-year sentence in Hasharon prison.

Israel has banned all detainees from the Gaza Strip from receiving visitors since 2007 when militants in Gaza kidnapped an Israeli soldier.

Friday, August 26, 2011

[Prisoners offer assistance to Palestinian students in Lebanon]

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- Fatah prisoners at the Ramon prison in Israel said Thursday they were donating their salaries to help benefit Palestinian students in Lebanon, after a suggestion from the president.

Mahmoud Abbas' call for support to Palestinian in Lebanese refugee camps netted about 100,000 shekels, according to a letter from the prisoners circulated by the detainees ministry on Thursday.

Representative of prisoners in the Ramon jail Jamal Al-Rajoub said the program was a successful so far, while detainees minister Issa Qaraqe applauded the prisoners for their "generous spirit."

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Addameer expresses its concern about the mistreatment of one of its lawyers by the Israeli Prison Service


Ramallah, 25 August 2011

Addameer condemns the mistreatment of its lawyer Anan Odeh by the Israeli Prison Service on 23 August at Ashkelon prison when he was conducting legal work as part of his efforts to defend Palestinian political prisoners. Mr. Odeh was at Ashkelon that day to visit one of the prisoners, and when told to wait for the prisoner to be brought from his cell Mr. Odeh was left locked in a small overheated room without adequate ventilation. The room was approximately 3 by 1.5 meters and with a small window of no more than 30 by 30 cm, with two sections - one for the lawyer and one for the prisoner, separated by a glass divider. After 40 minutes of waiting Mr. Odeh was suffering from shortness of breath and called for some assistance through the window, and on two occasions could see police officers from the prison walking past but was ignored. Feeling panicked and concerned for his deteriorating health, Mr. Odeh banged on the door with one of the chairs in the room and after 5 minutes a female prison warden arrived but had to leave Mr. Odeh waiting even longer as she went to collect the key to open the door. During this time an Israeli police officer arrived in the section on the other side of the glass divider with the prisoner that Mr. Odeh was due to see, but at that point Mr. Odeh had fainted and collapsed in the room and had to lie there until the warden returned with the key 10 minutes later. Mr. Odeh asked for a doctor but instead a nurse was brought and an ambulance was called. The ambulance then took him to Ashkelon hospital. Mr. Odeh was given numerous tests but was only told that he had a problem with his pulse, before he was released from the hospital.
Addameer is dismayed by the poor conditions in the prisons, as they affect both the health and wellbeing of the prisoners and the ability of the lawyers to carry out their vital work to uphold the rule of law and protect the human rights of these prisoners. This is in addition to Israel’s regular denial of family and lawyer visits to Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons. Addameer’s lawyers have made numerous complaints concerning these conditions but the Israeli prison authorities have consistently failed to address them. Furthermore, Israeli law states that the Israeli prison service is obliged to ensure that a visiting lawyer is able to see his/her client in prison without delay, provided the prison authorities have been notified of the visit 24 hours in advance. It also states that the prison authorities should provide an adequate space for lawyers to meet with prisoners. It is clear that these basic obligations weren’t met, since despite giving the required notice for the visit Mr. Odeh was made to wait for a prolonged period before seeing the prisoner he was due to meet, during which time his health deteriorated due to the abysmal conditions in the poorly ventilated consultation room.
Mr. Odeh remains in a poor physical state following his collapse at Ashkelon prison and has had to go to hospital to get treatment. Addameer reiterates its call to improve without delay the conditions inside the Israeli prisons, as a means to ensure that basic standards pertaining to the treatment of prisoners is upheld, and that prisoners are able to access legal counsel - a fundamental human right - without restrictions or obstacles imposed by the Israeli authorities.

Addameer re-activates the case of Ayed Dudeen as a Prisoner at Risk following his return to administrative detention


Ramallah, 25 August 2011

Ayed Dudeen, a father of six from Hebron who in June was released from over three and a half years in the Israeli prisons without charge or trial, has today had another administrative detention order against him approved. After being re-arrested on 9 August, only two months after his release, Ayed Dudeen was given an administrative detention order by the Israeli Security Agency which was today confirmed at Ofer Military Court. He will remain in detention without charge or trial for 6 months. As with all other administrative detainees, Ayed’s file remains secret, available to the military judge but not to Ayed or his lawyer. This practice violates international human rights law, which permits some limited use of administrative detention in emergency situations, but requires that the authorities follow basic rules for detention, including a fair hearing at which the detainee can challenge the reasons for his or her detention. These minimum rules of due process have been repeatedly violated in Ayed’s case, leaving him without any legitimate means to defend himself. Given Israel’s highly arbitrary use of this form of detention, it is likely that Ayed’s administrative detention order will be renewed at the end of the 6 months.
The continuous abuse of Ayed’s basic human rights at the hands of the Israeli authorities demands urgent attention. For this reason, Addameer is once again highlighting his case as part of its Prisoners at Risk Campaign , to expose the injustice of Israel’s targeted campaign to keep Ayed in prison without charge or trial, in violation of basic fair trial standards.
Take action today on behalf of the Prisoners at Risk by joining our campaign and calling for Ayed’s immediate release.
  • Use our template letter to the Israeli authorities to call for Ayed’s immediate and unconditional release;
  • Write to your own government and representatives to call on them to pressure Israel to release Ayed (if you are a EU citizen, you can use our template letter;
  • Organize a vigil or a demonstration to call for Ayed’s release;
  • Write to Ayed in prison (postal address: Ketziot Prison, P.O. Box 13, 841020, Israel);
  • Show your support by following Ayed on Facebook

Detainee marks 10 years in Israeli prison

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) – The detainees center is reporting that prisoner Ahmad Abu Aker from Khan Younis marked 10 years in Israeli prisons. Abu Aker has been sentenced to 15 years.

The center said in a statement that he was detained at the Rafah border while he was leaving the Gaza Strip and he was brutally interrogated at Ashkelon prison. He is now at Nafha prison and banned from visits.

Abu Aker received a bachelors degree with honors while in prison. He plans to continue his studies.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Prisoners’ Rights Group UFree Calls on UN to Stop Israeli Mass Arrests

23.08.11 - 13:30

Oslo – PNN – UFree, the Oslo-based European network to support the rights of Palestinian prisoners, has called on the United Nations and all other human rights supporters to speak out against Israel’s campaign of mass arrests now being waged in the West Bank.
ImageIsraeli military raids in the West Bank escalated on August 21 while at the same time attacks have stepped up in the Gaza Strip. As of now, more than 150 Palestinians residents of the West Bank have been arrested, mostly in Hebron.
In addition to detaining a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Israeli soldiers raided the house of the Mufti of Bethlehem in the al-Dheisheh refugee camp.
They also wounded three Palestinians and arrested two of them, and then refused to allow the Palestinian Red Crescent to care for their injuries. The raids are the most extensive in eight years, and have swept up children, the elderly, and lawmakers alike.
Mohammed Hamdan, the chairman of UFree, noted in a written statement issued today that Israel’s latest aggression comes just days before the Eid al-Fitr,  a three-day Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting. 
“This campaign of arrests in the West Bank and bombings in Gaza seems designed to wreak destruction not only on the people, but on our very culture," he said.
UFree promotes and defends the rights of Palestinian prisoners and detainees. More than 6,000 Palestinian prisoners are currently being held in Israeli jails, including about 300 children and more than 30 women living in often inhumane conditions, including torture and lack of medical care.

UFree's website can be found at

UFree 'confident' of Salah acquittal

UFree, a EU-based charity representing political prisoners, claims it is ‘confident’ that Sheikh Raed Salah will not be deported from the UK.
ImageThe comments come as British courts prepare to deport Salah on charges that he entered the UK despite being served a travel ban. Since his arrest on June 28th, he has remained in British custody.
However, a statement by UFree, released today, has claimed that Salah ‘has an extremely strong case and a high probability of winning his case… in the next few weeks’. The charity’s chairman, Mohammed Hamdan, is reported to have visited Salah in prison and described his condition as ‘[in] good health and high spirits’.
The arrest of Salah has proved controversial in both the UK and abroad. Theresa May, the Home Secretary, was accused of ‘incompetence’ for the failure of the UK Border Agency to prevent Salah’s entry, whilst several British newspapers have lauded his imprisonment, citing accusations of anti-semitism made against him. 
Critics have condemned the move, however, describing it as ‘appease[ment] of the pro-Israeli lobby in Britain’, according to UFree itself. Al-Jazeera, the pan-Arab satellite news channel, has claimed that the arrest ‘undermines… Britain’s democratic image’.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Israel to release cancer detainee

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities said they will release a Palestinian detainee suffering from cancer, his family said Monday.

Zakariyya Dawood Issa, from Al-Khader near Bethlehem in the southern West Bank, is in a critical condition after cancer spread throughout his body, medics say.

The Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs said they will bring a lawsuit against Israeli authorities for delaying his medical treatment and thus precipitating a deterioration in his condition.

The family was informed that an Israeli discharge committee had agreed Zakariyya's release, Issa's brother told Ma'an on Monday.

Yahya Dawood Issa said the family is preparing to welcome him at home, before taking him to Beit Jala hospital.

"The family is waiting impatiently to see Zakariyya and get assurance about his condition, especially after his recent deterioration which caused the Israeli prison service to refer him to Beersheba prison hospital," Issa's brother said.

Zakariyya has three daughters and one son: Wisal, 20, Malak, 14, Dalal, 13, and Ahmad 19.

Ahmad Al-Beitawi, a researcher for International Solidarity for Human Rights, said the early discharge came after ISHR's lawyer submitted the request to the committee, the fruit of joint efforts between the organization and the prisoners' ministry.

Al-Beitawi said Issa is expected to be released Monday after coordination with the Palestinian ministry of prisoners affairs and a medical team, who will examine him and refer him to hospital.

"Such a decision by Israeli occupation [authorities] is not a favor, but rather a right guaranteed by international law," he said.

"The Israeli prison service also tries to avoid Palestinian prisoners dying in custody, to maintain a good image and to avoid prisoners’ reaction" he added.

Zakariyya Dawood Issa was detained on February 10, 2003 and sentenced to 16 years imprisonment, charged with being an activist for Islamist party, and now-Gaza Strip government leaders, Hamas.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Israeli forces detain 120 Palestinians in West Bank

HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces detained 120 Palestinians, mostly Hamas supporters, overnight Saturday in the southern West Bank, witnesses and officials said.

More than 100 military jeeps stormed Hebron from three directions and deployed in several neighborhoods in the largest detention campaign in the city since 2003, locals and Palestinian security officials told Ma'an.

Hamas lawmaker Muhammad Mutliq Abu Juheisha was among more than 120 Palestinians detained across the district as soldiers raided the surrounding towns of Dura, Surif, Beit Ula, Nuba, Yatta and As-Samu.

"Between 100 and 120 people have been arrested," Samira Halaika, a Hamas MP from Hebron told AFP. "In terms of size, there has never been such an arrest operation on this scale in the Hebron area before."

Mushir al-Masri, another Hamas MP who lives in Gaza, said initial information showed at least 80 of the group's members had been arrested in a move which he said demonstrated Israel's "criminal mentality" towards the Palestinians.

"All attempts by the occupation to hit at Hamas are doomed to fail; experience has shown that it only makes Hamas stronger," he said.

Palestinian security sources said troops fanned out across the southern West Bank in an overnight operation which kicked off just hours after Hamas's armed wing in Gaza fired rockets into southern Israel, breaking a truce brokered in April.

The Al-Qassam Brigades said they fired four Grad rockets at the Israeli town of Ofakim near the Gaza Strip, lightly wounding two children, in what was the first such attack claimed by the group in months and came in the context of rising tensions in and around the enclave.

The Israeli operation met with resistance, with youngsters hurling stones at troops in Dura and troops retaliating with rubber bullets, moderately injuring one youngster, medics said.

The Israeli military had no immediate comment on the reported arrests, which came as tensions soared along the Israel-Gaza border, with the air force launching multiple air strikes against militants who hit back with rocket attacks.

The violence was sparked after a bloody series of shooting attacks on Thursday near the Red Sea resort town of Eilat, which killed eight Israelis.

Israel blamed the Gaza-based Popular Resistance Committees for the attack, although the faction has denied any involvement.

Since then, 14 Gazans have been killed and over 40 injured, with rocket attacks killing one Israeli and injuring dozens.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Bethlehem mother dies without seeing jailed son

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) – The mother of a Palestinian detainee died Wednesday without seeing her son, who is jailed in Israel.

Amjad Taqatqa's son Amjad from the Beit Fajjar village near Bethlehem is serving six life terms in an Israeli detention center.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Samaritan marks 8th year in Israeli prison

Samaritans are seen praying on top of Mount Jerzim near the northern West
Bank city of Nablus during celebrations of the Shavuot festival, in 2010. The
Samaritans claim to be the true children of Israel who left Egypt with Moses and
consider themselves the guardians of the authentic Mosaic tradition.
[AFP/Jaafar Ashtiyeh, File]

NABLUS (Ma'an) -- A Samaritan detainee from the West Bank marked his eighth year in Israel jail on Wednesday.

Nader Mamdouh, 32, from Nablus, is being treated as a Palestinian and not a Samaritan, his parents told Ma'an.

Samaritans, who number just 700 in two communities in the West Bank and Israel, and derive from an ancient branch of Judaism, have historically received special status from Israeli authorities.

Mamdouh's parents told Ma'an that Nader had been transferred between a number of Israeli jails and was suffering immensely.

He was living in Al-Ain refugee camp in Nablus when he was detained in 2004.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment for affiliation with the Abu Ali Mustapha Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and for taking part in operations against Israeli troops.

The Palestinian detainees center said Mamdouh's parents, who live in the Samaritan community on Jerzim mountain overlooking Nablus, are frequently harassed by Israeli forces.

Detainees ministry: Israel threatens 'mistreatment' in prisons

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Palestinians in Israeli jails have been threatened with worsening prison conditions, beginning at the start of September, the Ministry of Detainees in Ramallah said Wednesday.

The Israeli Prison Administration informed Palestinian representatives in jail that "mistreatment" would begin at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, according to the PA ministry's description of a letter received from the prisoners.

Palestinian detainees minister Issa Qaraqe said Israel's prison authority told the detainees that a new set of procedures would be introduced to "exacerbate their miserable conditions."

The detainees said that they will confront the new procedures with a "strategic step in September," and appealed for support from local and international groups.

In June, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the prison service to toughen conditions for Palestinian detainees in an effort to pressure Hamas to release captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

The measures were widely condemned by Palestinian officials and prompted hunger strikes by prisoners in protest against the changes.

Israeli forces arrest ex-prisoner from Jenin

JENIN (Ma’an) -- The Israeli army arrested a man on Tuesday night in the village of Kafr Rai, west of Jenin.

Belal Nabil Saed Theyab was arrested as Israeli forces raided his home and searched the property, his family told Ma'an.

Thayab had spent seven years in Israeli jails for being affiliated with militant organization Islamic Jihad.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said she was unaware of the incident.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011



Ramallah, 9 August
Addameer Prisoners Support and Human Rights Association today received news that Ayed Dudeen, who in June was released after spending nearly 4 years in prison without charge or trial, has been re-arrested. Ayed was the first case in Addameer’s recently launched Prisoners at Risk Campaign, and his re-arrest confirms that the Israeli authorities have no intention of letting him enjoy his newfound freedom after nearly 19 years in and out of prison.
At approximately 2 a.m. on Tuesday 9 August, 50 Israeli soldiers raided Ayed Dudeen’s home in Dura village near Hebron and ordered the entire family out of the house while they searched and ransacked it. The soldiers broke down the door of the family’s pantry in the process, and confiscated one laptop and two phones. Neither Ayed nor his family has been informed of the reasons for his arrest, and at this stage it is not known where Ayed is being held.
As a result of these worrying recent events, Addameer is re-activating the campaign to call for the release of Ayed Dudeen as part of its Prisoners at Risk Campaign. You can learn more about the long periods of time Ayed has spent in prison by reading his profile, and show your support by following his case on Facebook. Addameer will provide further information about his arrest and ways to take action in the coming days.

Prisoner granted access to medical equipment

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- The Israeli prison administration will allow a Palestinian prisoner suffering from severe diabetes access to vital medical equipment, the Palestinian prisoners' society said Wednesday.

Ahmad Asfour, 23, will be connected to a machine which injects insulin into his body.

The decision came after the prisoners' society sent a letter to prison authorities informing them of Asfour's condition.

Asfour was seriously injured during the war on Gaza, losing the index and middle finger on his left hand and damaging nerves on his right hand which severely restricts movement.

He was also severely wounded in his stomach and chest, undergoing an operation to remove part of his intestine and pancreas.

Asfour suffers from severe diabetes due to his injuries and requires four insulin shots a day.

He is sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison but the prisoners society is working on securing an early release due to his condition.

Prison service raids Nafha jail cells

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- A representative of the Palestinian prisoners society said Tuesday after visiting Nafha prison that the Israeli prison’s administration raided a cell area during dawn prayers.

Forces searched the detainees "brutally" during the raid on section 11, room six, he said.

According to the rights group, detainees went on hunger strike even after breaking the fast because the prison service had agreed not to cause any "escalations" during the Muslim holy month.

DCI Detention Bulletin - Issue 19 - July 2011

DCI-Palestine's monthly bulletin on detention issues.
In this issue: New report on Israel’s compliance with ICCPR; Urgent Appeal – Children of Azzun; New report on the situation facing Palestinian children detained in the Israeli military court system; Three new case studies on child detainees.
Detention Bulletin - Issue 19 - July 2011

Voices from the Occupation: Sameer S. - Detention

Name: Sameer S.
Date of arrest: 29 June 2011
Date of affidavit: 6 July 2011
Age: 12
Location: Azzun, occupied West Bank
Accusation: Throwing stones
On 29 June 2011, a 12-year-old boy from Azzun, in the occupied West Bank, is arrested by Israeli soldiers from the family home at 2:00 am.
‘At around 2:00 am I was sleeping when I woke up to banging on the outside door,’ says Sameer. ‘Someone was banging hard on the door and I didn’t know why. I got up and went to the living room and saw my parents and siblings. We were very scared.’ Sameer’s father went and opened the door. ‘About five minutes later I heard my father saying: “Bring the boys downstairs and keep the girls upstairs.” I felt so scared I started shivering. Me and my brother went downstairs with my mother and saw around six soldiers with my father. I was very scared of the soldiers whose faces were covered in black showing only their eyes. One of them did not cover his face and he was holding a digital camera.’ The soldiers spoke to Sameer’s father in Hebrew and he translated. The boys were ordered to raise their hands and the soldier with the camera took their photo.
‘The soldier talking to my father took a piece of paper out of his pocket and started checking it and my father’s ID. “Where’s Sameer?” he asked. I became terrified but I didn’t think they would take me. He talked to my father in Hebrew and then pointed at me and said: “Bau, bau,” which I think means come here in Hebrew. At that moment I realized they wanted me. I was so shocked and horrified I couldn’t breathe a single word. My father comforted me and asked me not to be scared. Meanwhile, two soldiers grabbed me by the arms and took me out of the house. They all left the house and closed the door behind. I saw more than 15 soldiers around the house in the yard and near the front door. Two soldiers blindfolded me and they also tied my hands behind my back with one set of plastic cords. The soldiers were talking to each other in Hebrew.’
Sameer was then led to a vehicle and made to sit on the floor. About 15 minutes later the vehicle arrived at an unknown location. Sameer was pulled out of the vehicle and made to sit on the ground. ‘Meanwhile, I heard dogs approaching us,’ recalls Sameer. ‘I became terrified to hear dogs approaching. Soldiers were saying things in Hebrew and I didn’t understand. I felt they were getting closer and I shouted: “The dogs, the dogs,” trying to move away, but I couldn’t because my hands were still tied behind my back. “Keep them away,” I heard others shouting. “Keep the dogs away, we haven’t done anything to you,” I cried. I was petrified because the dogs could jump at me at any moment. This continued for about 20 minutes, during which time I kept crying and shouting. Others were shouting as well. Male and female soldiers were laughing and saying things in Hebrew,’ says Sameer.
After 20 minutes, Sameer was taken into a clinic and briefly asked some questions about his health. After the questions, Sameer was re-blindfolded and his plastic ties were replaced with metal cuffs tied to the front. Sameer was then placed on the ground for about one-and-a-half hours. ‘I felt very cold,’ says Sameer. After sitting on the ground for more than an hour, Sameer was placed in another vehicle and transferred to Ari’el settlement for interrogation.
‘I was taken to a room measuring 3x3 metres,’ recalls Sameer. ‘They removed the blindfold once I entered the room. There was a man in civilian clothes sitting behind one of the desks. He was short, bald and plump. He ordered me to sit in a wooden chair in front of him. There were another two men in civilian clothes in the room. “You threw stones at the bypass road near the gate,” the short man said once I sat down. “No I didn’t,” I said. “Where were you on Nakba day?” He asked.  “I was home because my father didn’t allow me to leave the house,” I said. He spoke fluent Arabic. “I’ll beat you up if you don’t tell the truth and confess to throwing stones,” the interrogator said. “I didn’t throw any stones and I didn’t do anything to you,” I said while shaking with fear. He got up and approached me to slap me on the face and neck. “You’ll confess to everything,” he shouted. He kicked me while I was sitting in the chair with my hands handcuffed to the front. “If you don’t confess, I’ll beat you more and throw you out of the window,” he said. He then grabbed me by the shirt and said he would throw me out of the window. There was a big window in the room. I was terrified but I didn’t confess. “I didn’t do anything to you and I didn’t throw stones,” I told him. He started talking to the other men in Hebrew. They never talked to me. They just kept coming in and out,’ recalls Sameer.
Sameer then recalls signing papers written in Arabic and Hebrew without reading them. He was then taken out and made to sit in a corridor. It was about 2:00 or 3:00 pm. Sameer was untied and his blindfold was removed and he was given a meal. About an hour later a car arrived and he was driven to Qalqiliya. He was handed over to the Palestinian police and released.
‘I’m still afraid of soldiers and I can’t sleep at night. I’m anxious and still traumatized because of what happened. This was the first time I went through such a horrible experience which terrified me. I’m scared of the darkness. I keep thinking soldiers will come back and arrest me,’ says Sameer.
Since January 2009, DCI-Palestine alone has documented 40 cases of children from Azzun village who have been detained by Israeli forces, mostly on suspicion of throwing stones. These cases only represent a small sample of the total number of cases involving the arrest of children from Azzun. See Urgent Appeal 4/11 - Children of Azzun.

Prisoners at Risk: Addameer calls for the arbitrary detention of Ahmad Qatamish to end


Ramallah, 3 August 2011
As part of its recently launched Prisoners at Risk campaign, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association demands the immediate release of Ahmad Qatamish, a well-known political scientist and writer currently held without charge or trial by Israel. The duration of his administrative detention has been set at 4 months, due to expire on 2 September 2011.
Addameer believes that the arrest and detention of Ahmad Qatamish has all the hallmarks of arbitrary detention and is aimed at silencing this prolific writer for his unbridled criticism of the Israeli occupation. Ahmad was arrested on 21 April 2011 in the middle of the night following a raid on his house whilst he was away, in which his wife, daughter, and two other relatives - including a 14-year-old girl - were held hostage by Israeli troops in order to compel him to surrender himself. Since then there has been a catalogue of serious errors and malpractice by the Israeli authorities. Ahmad was held for 13 days - during which time he was interrogated for only 10 minutes - before being informed on 3 May that he would be placed in administrative detention; despite the fact that both he and his lawyer had been told by the Military Court that he would be released that very day. Ahmad’s original administrative detention order was found to be flawed and had to be re-written twice, and even now the order is based on the vague accusation that he is an active member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - a charge he has consistently and vehemently denied. As the order is based on a secret file which is not accessible to Ahmad or his lawyer, it is impossible for Ahmad to know how to defend himself against any possible charges.
This is not the first time Ahmad has been placed in administrative detention. In the 1990s, he was held for five-and-a-half years without charge or trial, making him one of the longest held administrative detainees in Israeli prisons. For more information about Ahmad’s case, you can read his profile here and follow updates on his detention on facebook.
The Prisoners at Risk campaign aims to highlight cases which raise grave concern and require urgent action. Without international pressure, there is the real risk that Ahmad’s administrative detention order will be renewed again in September. You can help stop this from happening by joining our campaign and doing one of the following:
  • Use our template letter to the Israeli authorities to call for Ahmad’s immediate and unconditional release;
  • Write to your own government and representatives to call on them to pressure Israel to release Ahmad (if you are a EU citizen, you can use our template letter;
  • Organize a vigil or a demonstration to call for Ahmad’s release;
  • Write to Ahmad in prison (postal address: Ofer Prison, Givat Zeev, P.O. Box 3007, via Israel);
  • Show your support by following Ahmad on Facebook.
Please remember to inform us of any action you take in Ahmad’s case by emailing or posting about it on Ahmad’s Facebook page or the Prisoners at Risk page.

Addameer’s Quarterly Update 15 April - 15 July

Addameer’s Quarterly Update on Palestinian Prisoners covering the period between 15 April and 15 July 2011 is now available!
As always the Quarterly Update provides the most up-to-date detention and arrest statistics and a comprehensive overview of the important prisoner trends and news. This quarter, noteworthy trends included a notable increase in the arrest of Change and Reform parliamentarians, continued repression in East Jerusalem and the detention of 120 internationals who participated in the “Welcome to Palestine” initiative. In addition, the Quarterly Update gives background on individual prisoner cases, such as Ahmad Qatamish, Islam and Bassem Tamimi and Mohammed Halabiyeh, and summarizes the most relevant legal, UN and EU news, as well as Addameer’s activities over the reporting period.
For the first time since it was first published in April 2010, the Quarterly Update is also available in Arabic.

Israel’s compliance with UN Convention – 12 months on

 [DCI - 1 August 2011] – On 29 July 2010, the UN Human Rights Committee (the Committee) issued Concluding Observations after reviewing the State of Israel’s compliance with the Convention on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR). In the Concluding Observations, the Committee raised a number of concerns relating to the prosecution of Palestinian children in Israeli military courts and made the following recommendations and expressions of concern:
  • Refrain from holding criminal proceedings against children in military courts;
  • Ensure that children are only detained as a measure of last resort and for the shortest possible time period;
  • Ensure that parents or close relatives are informed where a child is being detained and provide the child with prompt access to free and independent legal assistance of its own choosing;
  • Expressed concern that children can be detained for up to eight days before being brought before a military judge;
  • Expressed concern that children are interrogated in the absence of parents or close relatives and a lawyer, and they are not audio-visually recorded. The Committee recommends a guaranteed right that all proceedings involving children are audio-visually recorded;
  • Expressed concern that children of the age of 16 are tried as adults in the military courts, and recommends that children not be tried as adults;
  • Expressed concern that children are not informed promptly, in a language they understand, of the charges against them;
  • The Committee is ‘very concerned’ at allegations of torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of children and recommends that reports of torture and ill-treatment of detained children are investigated promptly by an independent body; and
  • Recommends that all trials are conducted in a prompt and impartial manner, in accordance with fair trial standards.
The Committee also requested that Israel provide an update in 12 months on the implementation of the recommendations relating to children. Pursuant to this follow up procedure, DCI-Palestine today submitted a report to the Committee containing updated information relevant to the implementation of its recommendations.
The report finds that Palestinian children continue to be systematically ill-treated in the Israeli military court system and none of the Committee’s recommendations have been satisfactorily implemented in the past 12 months.

PA urges international community to protect prisoners' rights

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Authority on Monday urged the international community to protect the rights of Palestinian prisoners, the government media center said.

The PA referred to two incidents in which prisoners rights were violated. One case involved a decision by Israeli authorities to ban prisoners' families from visiting them for up to 17 years after accusations that they smuggled mobile phones into the jail.

The other involved a recent incident in which 40 Palestinian prisoners suffered food poisoning in an Israeli prison in the Negev.

"These actions are a violation of international law, particularly the Third Geneva Convention, relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War," a statement said, adding that the PA held the Israeli prison administration responsible for the lives and health of prisoners.

The West Bank government urged international institutions, the Red Cross and the United Nations Commission of Human Rights to do more to pressure Israel to stop its daily "illegal and unjustified measures against prisoners."

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Rights group calls for release of Al-Bireh mayor's daughter

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A Palestinian prisoners' rights group on Tuesday called for the release of Bushra Al-Tawil, the daughter of the mayor of Al-Bireh, who has been held by Israeli authorities for a month without charge.

Israeli forces arrested Al-Tawil, 18, on July 6, 2011 after a raid on her family home in Al-Bireh.

No explanation was given for her arrest, and more than a month later she has not been charged with any crime, human rights network for Palestinian prisoners UFree said.

"UFree believes that she was targeted for arrest by Israeli occupation forces because her father, Mr Jamal Al-Tawil is an elected mayor for Al-Bireh city in the West Bank.

"Family members of elected officials have been vulnerable to arrest due to the Israeli occupation policy of targeting families of elected Palestinian politicians as a means of applying political pressure," a statement said.

Bushra's mother, Muthanna Al-Tawil, was previously held in administrative detention for a full year, Ufree said.

Jamal Al-Tawil, the mayor of Al-Bireh, was detained by Israeli forces for several months under administrative detention during the first Intifada without being charged.

"UFree calls for the immediate expedition of Ms Al-Tawil's case and compensation for the psychological trauma they have been subject to throughout the ordeal."

Israeli courts have been delaying her case from being heard, Ufree added.

Administrative detention entails being detained without a trial or any charge.

Israel has held thousands of Palestinians in administrative detention in the past and the practice has been widely condemned by human rights groups.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Palestinian prisoners suffer food poisoning in Israeli jail

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Forty Palestinian prisoners being held in an Israeli prison contracted food poisoning on Sunday, the Minister of Prisoners Affairs Issa Qaraqe quoted detainees as saying.

Prisoners being held in the Negev prison, southern Israel said they had suffered from nausea, vomiting and diarrhea after eating dairy products which had passed their sell by date.

Three of the prisoners are reportedly in a severe condition, as they already suffer from chronic ailments such as heart disease. Detainees complained that prison authorities delayed transferring sick inmates to the prison clinic, thus aggravating their symptoms further.

Prisoner Amjad Abu Latifah blamed the Israeli prison administration for the food poisoning, pointing out that this is the second incident of its kind in two months.

Prisoners have filed an official complaint, Latifah added.

The out of date products were bought from a prison store and detainees have stated that Israeli authorities intentionally sell expired goods.

The Minister of Prisoners Affairs Issa Qaraqe said that Israeli prison authorities are risking the well being of prisoners and neglecting their health.

He demanded an immediate investigation into the current situation.

Palestinian Muslim prisoners are currently fasting from dusk until dawn as part of the Holy Month of Ramadan, refraining from food and water and emphasizing charitable giving.

In June, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the prison service to toughen conditions for Palestinian detainees in an effort to pressure Hamas to release captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

The measures were widely condemned by Palestinian officials.

Israeli army detains Freedom Theater actor

JENIN (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces on Saturday detained an acting student of the iconic Freedom Theater at a checkpoint near Jenin, theater staff said.

Rami Awni Hwayel, 20, was detained, handcuffed and blindfolded at Shave Shomeron checkpoint in the northern West Bank. He was returning from rehearsals in Ramallah, the theater said in a statement.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said a Palestinian was arrested at the Shave Shomeron checkpoint but had no further details.

Hwayel is the third member of the theater to be detained by the Israeli army in recent weeks.

On July 27, Israeli soldiers detained Adnan Naghnaghiye and Bilal Saadi during a dawn raid on the West Bank city.

Director Udi Aloni said Hwayel's detention was "devastating."

"Rami is playing the main role in 'Waiting for Godot' and doing an amazing job, he's so dedicated to the work. He just left rehearsals today for the weekend to see his family for Ramadan. It's terrible, we want our Pozzo back."

The theater urged its friends and supporters to act "in order to stop this outrageous harassment by the Israeli army against a cultural establishment."

In April, unknown assailants shot dead the theater's general-director, Juliano Mer-Khamis, 52, an Israeli national, in an unsolved case which has frustrated local security services despite initial claims of success.

Mer-Khamis' late mother founded the theater in the 1980s.

PA: Israel should reimburse tuition for prisoners

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- The Palestinian Authority ministry of prisoners affairs wants Israel to return tuition money paid by the PA to detained students who are no longer permitted to enroll in courses.

The prison service has frozen all the money allocated for tuition on behalf of detainees enrolled in the Open University, after the government decided to deprive Palestinian prisoners of education.

Of the 6,000 detainees in Israel, 280 are enrolled in Open University. Some would be graduating soon.

Prisoners minister Issa Qaraqe said Saturday that his ministry would appeal to Israel's High Court of Justice seeking to restore the money allocated for prisoners’ tuition.

In a separate matter, Hussein Ash-Sheikh, a Palestinian lawyer who works for the ministry, said Saturday that Israeli soldiers tried to rape a 13-year-old Palestinian at Etzion detention center.

The lawyer based his claim on what he heard from the teen’s brother, whom he identified as 26-year-old Ammar Sa’di Jabir from Hebron in the southern West Bank.

He said Ammar was detained along with his brother Mahmoud, 13, from their home on July 25. He was taken to Kiryat Arba detention center where the soldiers beat him on the face and body before transferring him to Etzion.

Ash-Sheikh said he noticed during a visit that “Ammar’s body had bruises and swelling, and he lost some teeth.”

He added that Mahmoud was also beaten and soldiers took him to a deserted room and tried to rape him. When he saw the soldiers, Ammar added, he hurried to defend his brother and clashed with them.

Ammar was then accused of attacking soldiers, Ash-Sheikh said.

In another incident, Ash-Sheikh said Yousif Abdul-Aziz, 27, a prisoner from Jenin, filed a complaint against an Israeli warden accusing the official of taking inappropriate photos of him.

The photos were taken at Megeddo prison while he was being strip-searched, Ash-Sheikh said.

Officials at Israel's prison service could not immediately be reached for comment.

Israel releases 2 female detainees

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RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- Two Palestinian woman left Israeli jail after completing their sentences, the Palestinian Prisoners' Society said Thursday.

Kefah Qatesh from Ramallah, and Aysha Ighneimat from Hebron, spoke out about their conditions in prison after being freed.

Qatesh, 38, was released from Israel's Hasharon prison after a year under administrative detention, in which no charges are filed but 6 month jail terms can be renewed by Israeli authorities for Palestinian detainees.

Female detainees in Israeli prison are suffering from difficult heath and living circumstances, that have escalated after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu moved to worsen Palestinian prisoners' conditions, she said.

In June, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the prison service to toughen conditions for Palestinian detainees in an effort to pressure Hamas to release captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

The measures were widely condemned by Palestinian officials and prompted hunger strikes by prisoners in protest against the changes.

Qatesh demanded the release of Palestinian detainees, and an end to violations of prisoners' rights by the Israeli authorities.

Aysha Ighneimat, 20, was also released from Israel's Damon prison on Thursday after two years imprisonment.

Ighneimat described poor living conditions for detainees in Israeli custody, saying cells had insect problems and high humidity, and prisoners suffered from narrow yard areas and medical negligence, particularly affecting female detainees.

Hamas leader freed in mass prisoner release

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israel moved Thursday to free 770 Israeli and Palestinian detainees, including a senior leader of Hamas, prison and Palestinian Authority officials said.

Israel prisons spokeswoman Sivan Weizman said the prisoners, among them 200 Palestinians, had almost completed their terms and were released due to overcrowding.

Hassan Yousef, a West Bank leader of the Hamas movement, was released despite having six weeks remaining of a six-year term for "membership of a terrorist organization."

After his release, Yousef told Ma’an the prisoners carried one message: The need to implement a unity deal and carry out the terms of the Cairo agreement in order to confront the occupation.

Yousef said the situation in the prisons is difficult due to recent restrictions.

“There are 40 detainees in solitary confinement, most of them are Hamas,” he said in an interview with Ma'an.

The Hamas leader stated that he does not support the September bid for Palestinian statehood at the UN.

"We don’t believe that this step is useful and won’t add anything except a few more UN resolutions," Yousef told Ma'an.

Rather, "we need practical resolutions that end the occupation," he said.

Negotiations over a prisoner swap deal with Israel for captured soldier Gilad Shalit only stopped one month ago, Yousef added, noting that he also participated in swap talks and it is Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu who is delaying the process.

He also hopes that the current demonstrations in Israel over housing prices can help to stop the Israeli government’s racist policies against Palestinians.

The Head of Gaza's Prison Ministry Riyad Al-Ashqar said a large number of prisoners were released Thursday because Israel was delaying the release of dozens of detainees who had completed their sentences.

Among them are more than 70 prisoners from the Negev jail alone, including 16 prisoners from Gaza. Mahmoud Al-Sherif was detained in April and scheduled for release in June, for example.

The ministry noted that all the prisoners had completed their sentences, so the mass release should not be interpreted as a sign that Hamas and Israel reached a deal to exchange a soldier captured in 2006.

In Ramallah, Deputy Prisoners Minister Ziad Abu Ain said the Palestinians were expecting "around 70 prisoners who have finished their terms of Israeli jails" but had no additional details.

The Center for Defense of Liberties and Civil Rights reported on Thursday that a member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine was also freed as part of the prisoner release.

Sufyan Abed Al-Halim Barakat, 40, had spent nine years in Israeli detention after being arrested for affiliation with the armed wing of the DFLP.

According to figures released by Israeli rights group B'tselem in April, there are 5,380 Palestinians being held in Israeli jails, 217 of whom were under 18.

AFP contributed to this report.

Nablus detainee marks 8 years in Israeli prison

NABLUS (Ma'an) -- Palestinian detainee Wajdi Azmi Judeh entered his eighth year in Israeli prison on Wednesday, a detainees' center reported.

Judeh, from Nablus, is serving a 25-year sentence in Israel's Shatta prison.

He was accused of being affiliated with the National Resistance Brigades, the armed wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Female detainee marks 2 years in administrative detention

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- The Palestinian Center for Detainees reported Tuesday that female detainee Hana Al-Shalabi from Jenin is now the longest serving female prisoner held in Israeli administrative detention.

She was detained in 2009 and is currently in Hasharon prison.

The Israeli authorities have kept on postponing her trial without providing any justification and the Israeli Shabak refuse to tell her why she is being detained, the ministry said.

She is banned from seeing her family.

Administrative detention entails being detained without a trial or any charge.

Israel has held thousands of Palestinians in administrative detention in the past and the practice has been widely condemned by human rights groups.

While in Gaza: The Other Gilad Shalits

8 August 2011 | The Palestine Chronicle, Johnny Barber
‘Dear Johnny:
‘While you are in Gaza, please visit Gilad Shalit. He is the Israeli soldier who was kidnapped from outside Gaza 5 years ago, and has been held by Hamas without visits by anyone, including the Red Cross or Red Crescent, in violation of international law. I trust you are committed to human rights for all, and this small gesture should be quite easy to do as compared with the magnitude of arranging your flotilla. I look forward to seeing your video or photos or voice recording evidencing that Gilad is being treated well and is in good health.’
I thought about Shalit quite often as I traveled around Gaza. Though the writer of the email assumed I was unaware of the prisoner or his circumstance, it was not true. I knew he was just a teenager when captured. I knew he was a combatant- a gunner in a tank on the border of Gaza. I knew he was taken prisoner, not kidnapped.
I thought about the fear he faced as he was dragged from his tank 5 years ago, and his uncertain days imprisoned since then, days spent without family, without friends, without any contact with outside agencies. I tried to imagine the yearly landmarks; the birthdays, the anniversaries, the myriad dates and shared memories that mark our movement through life, passing without acknowledgement. I tried to imagine what his parents were going through, not knowing his condition or circumstance.
Even in Gaza, Shalit’s name comes up often. I attended the weekly demonstration of prisoners families held outside the ICRC every Monday. Mothers, fathers, wives, and children hold photos or posters of loved ones imprisoned in Israel for months, years, some for decades. A gentleman, recognizing I was from the U.S., said sarcastically, “Don’t these people know there is only one prisoner? His name is Shalit.”
Since 1967, 700,000 Palestinians have been “detained” by Israel. Currently 7000 people are imprisoned. 37 of them are women; over 300 of them are children.
When I visited the Ministry of Detainees in Gaza City I was challenged by the minister to name another region of the world where such a ministry was needed. The minister explained that this was an issue particular to Palestine because Israel imprisons so many people without charges and through military courts where evidence is hidden and trials are rigged. Many are convicted on coerced confessions. The minister’s position was that all prisoners, including Shalit, be treated with respect and dignity.
I was introduced to Umm Ahmed through Doa’a, a Ministry official who coordinates the weekly demonstrations at the ICRC. Umm Ahmed’s 19-year-old son, a university student, is imprisoned in Israel for just over a year. His story is not unique.
Ahmed was seriously injured during Operation Cast Lead in January 2009. Families near the buffer zone were given permission by the Israelis to leave their homes to get supplies. Umm Ahmed and her family were returning to their home. Half of the family members had come inside. Ahmed, and 3 cousins remained in the doorway when the drones were heard overhead, followed quickly by 2 missile strikes. Ahmed and one cousin were gravely injured, blasted into the alcove of the home. Ahmed’s abdomen was eviscerated, he had lost an eye and several fingers, and he was bleeding profusely from shrapnel wounds all over his body. No ambulances were in the area. Family members scooped up the broken bodies and rushed them to the hospital. On arrival, Umm Ahmed was told her son was dead.
Ahmed, despite his injuries, managed to cling to life. After emergency surgery he was transferred to the hospital in Al-Arish, Egypt where he underwent 10 surgeries in 10 months, including the removal of his pancreas, leaving him diabetic and dependant on insulin injections for the remainder of his life. On his return to Gaza, suffering from life threatening infections to his wounded arm and hand, the family sought additional treatment outside Gaza. It proved impossible to have him transferred to Europe, but after several attempts he received permission from Israel to travel to Jerusalem for the needed treatment.
On the day of his departure, November 25, 2009, his mother prepared food for him, adhering to a new diet specifically for diabetics. When he departed with his brother and father for Erez crossing, she followed him out the door, hugging him tightly. When she let go, she sensed something terrible was about to happen.
Shortly after 4pm when Ahmed, his brother and father reached Erez, Umm Ahmed received a call from her son, asking for Mohammed, the eldest brother. Umm Ahmed asked, “What is it? Is something wrong with Ahmed?” Her son hesitated then told her Ahmed had been taken at the crossing and was in Israeli custody.
The soldiers demanded that Ahmed and his father both strip naked. Ahmed, in his wheelchair, needed his father’s assistance to comply. Ahmed, though missing fingers on one hand and suffering from infections to his hand and elbow, was handcuffed and taken away. His father would not see him again. Ahmed’s father demanded Ahmed be released and allowed to return to Gaza. He was literally thrown out of the crossing and told to return to Gaza without his son. Without recourse, Ahmed’s father returned home.
Unlike Shalit who was taken by Palestinian fighters while on active duty in a tank on the Gaza border, the Israeli’s took Ahmed as he attempted to get treatment for wounds incurred at Israeli hands. Many Palestinians are ‘detained’, or perhaps my email writer’s term is more appropriate, ‘kidnapped’, by Israeli soldiers at checkpoints, from their cars, or from their beds in the middle of the night, and taken to Israel. Although the transfer of detainees to locations within the occupying power’s territory is illegal under international law, all Palestinian prisoners are currently held in Israel.
Ahmed was held under investigation for 38 days as the Israeli’s tried to elicit a confession. Regardless of his injuries, he was blindfolded, handcuffed, and routinely denied his medications. He suffered through diabetic comas throughout the 38 days. He did not confess. He was found guilty of monitoring Israeli activities in the buffer zone and sentenced to 2 ½ years in prison.
Since Hamas won an electoral decision in 2006, family visitation rules were tightened. Since 2007 all Gaza families have been denied visitation. In December 2009, the Israeli Court ruled that the right to family visits in prison is not within the “Framework of the basic humanitarian needs of the residents of the Strip, which Israel is obligated to enable” and that there was no need for family visits since prisoners could obtain basic supplies through the prison canteen. So like gunner Shalit, 700 other families have been denied visitation with their sons, daughters and children.
Umm Ahmed is concerned that her son is receiving inadequate treatment for his diabetes. It has been regularly reported that security prisoners receive inadequate food- both in quality and quantity. Regarding medical care, the Israeli prison authority has adopted a policy of systemic negligence in all its facilities. Prisons are extremely understaffed by medical personnel and visits to a doctor can take weeks, with actual treatment taking months. For a prisoner suffering from diabetes this can be deadly. Ahmed also needs constant care to treat infections resulting from all the shrapnel wounds to his body. Upon his detention, Ahmed spent 3 months in the hospital as a result of his mistreatment. While hospitalized it was determined he needs an operation to control his diabetes. In order to get an operation, Ahmed must wait. Ar-Ramleh prison hospital has a limited number of beds. Because of his inadequate diet and medication regime (most ill and injured prisoners live on aspirin, painkillers, and tranquilizers), his health continues to deteriorate. Though the operation has not yet been scheduled, the family has already been notified that Ahmed will not be released from prison until the fees for the operation are paid in full.
When Ban Ki-Moon visited Gaza in March of 2010, Umm Ahmed and her husband met with him and explained the situation of their son. Because of this meeting and the negative publicity it triggered for Israel, the family has received only sporadic news of their son. For the last 5 months they have heard nothing. The parents are anxiously awaiting word of their son.
I left Gaza without managing a visit with Shalit. But I left with the knowledge of thousands of Gilad Shalits in Israeli prisons. Many, like Ahmed, have no involvement in military operations. They were not dragged from their tanks, but were dragged from their cars, dragged from their beds, even dragged from their wheelchairs. Hundreds are children. They too, deserve basic humanitarian considerations. They too, deserve to be treated with decency and their health maintained. Their families also deserve answers and consideration. Shalit may be the only prisoner Americans have heard of, but he is not alone.

- Johnny Barber has traveled to Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria & Gaza to bear witness and document the suffering of people who are affected by war. He contributed this article to Visit: