Home > Impunity > Yediot: “Security establishment” warns of imminent Palestinian prisoner strike

Yediot: “Security establishment” warns of imminent Palestinian prisoner strike

This appears to be a General Security Service (GSS) leak:

The scenario that the security establishment is preparing for is threatening. The scenario envisions the security prisoners launching a hunger strike, setting fire to their cells, trying attack the guards, severing all contact with the prison authorities, refusing all visits by the Red Cross and family members, while their relatives will demonstrate outside the prisons and will enlist Israeli Arabs to the cause as well.

Israeli security officials said that the Palestinian Authority is behind the planned prisoners’ strike, which is expected to include a hunger strike and rioting in the larger prisons in Israel—similar to the strike that was held in the prisons in 2004, when the security prisoners rioted for 18 days. Israeli officials said they anticipated that the signal to launch the strike would be given in the course of the next number of weeks.

The assessment is that the Palestinian Authority will also launch a parallel “soft attack” that will involve the enlistment of Arab and other international media stations, as well as taking legal action to help shore up the prisoners’ struggle.

It will be interesting to see if the “legal actions” will tackle a major issue that has largely remained under the radar:  the 10,000 or so Palestinian prisoners are held in Israel in direct breach of international law.

On March 25, 2009, Yesh Din along with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual filed a petition to the High Court of Justice demanding that prisoners and detainees who reside in the West Bank not be held in facilities within Israel, and that arraignment hearings for such detainees also not be held in courts outside the West Bank.

The petition argues that holding Palestinian detainees in facilities located within Israel, a practice employed by Israeli authorities since 1967, violates Geneva Convention norms and infringes on detainees’ and prisoners’ right to due process, right to counsel, as well as visitation rights, as their lawyers and families are unable to meet with them.

In March 2010, following a hearing, the HCJ rejected the petition, stating that this issue was discussed and decided upon in a previous ruling. In that ruling, the HCJ refused to apply the International Humanitarian Law on this issue – and accepted the Israeli government’s position on the matter. [More here]

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Palestinians planning prisoners strike

Alex Fishman, Yediot, December 2 2010 [Hebrew original here and at the bottom of this post]

The security establishment is bracing for the possibility that the Palestinian security prisoners who are incarcerated in Israel will launch a general strike, which is being planned by the Palestinian Authority.

The scenario that the security establishment is preparing for is threatening. The scenario envisions the security prisoners launching a hunger strike, setting fire to their cells, trying attack the guards, severing all contact with the prison authorities, refusing all visits by the Red Cross and family members, while their relatives will demonstrate outside the prisons and will enlist Israeli Arabs to the cause as well.

Israeli security officials said that the Palestinian Authority is behind the planned prisoners’ strike, which is expected to include a hunger strike and rioting in the larger prisons in Israel—similar to the strike that was held in the prisons in 2004, when the security prisoners rioted for 18 days. Israeli officials said they anticipated that the signal to launch the strike would be given in the course of the next number of weeks.

The assessment is that the Palestinian Authority will also launch a parallel “soft attack” that will involve the enlistment of Arab and other international media stations, as well as taking legal action to help shore up the prisoners’ struggle.

Israeli officials have taken into account the possibility that the prisoners will try to have footage and reports air from within the prisons. Alongside coverage of the riots by the media, a team of lawyers working on behalf of the Palestinian Authority will lodge complaints against Israel. The complaints, which are likely to be lodged across the world and also in Jerusalem, will focus on Israel’s treatment of the prisoners during the riots and in the period leading up to them. Meanwhile, officials from the Palestinian Authority are planning on holding international conferences about the security prisoners in the coming month in Algeria and Geneva. The title of those conferences is going to be: “Israel does not honor international law.”

The assumption is that the prisoners’ strike will not only serve Palestinian public relations against Israel, but will also be an answer to the intra-Palestinian conflicts. This campaign is geared to be the PA’s answer to Hamas’s propaganda as if the Palestinian Authority is indifferent to the fate of the prisoners, as opposed to Hamas, which has been driving a hard bargain in exchange for the kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.

While the Palestinian Authority is nominally to be behind the strike, which is being organized by Issa Karaka, the Palestinian minister for prisoner affairs, Israeli security officials say that that is merely the fig leaf. They said that the strike is being pushed by extremists who want to heat up the conflict with Israel.

All of the plans and organizational work being done notwithstanding, it seems that the security prisoners themselves are a bit less enthusiastic about staging a strike. Many of them believe that a strike should be saved for when Israel takes away their privileges, against the backdrop of legislative efforts to worsen the incarceration conditions of the Palestinian security prisoners in what is known as the “Shalit bill.” They believe that that will provide them with a good pretext for clashing violently with the prison authorities.

A spokesman for the Prisons Service said in response to a question about possible Prisons Service preparations in anticipation of a prisoners’ strike: “The Prisons Service will not discuss that issue.”

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Categories: Impunity
  1. Tom Mitchell
    December 5, 2010 at 05:05

    The republican terrorist movements in Northern Ireland attempted two similar actions: the dirty blanket protest in 1978-79 and the hunger strike in 1981. The strike ended with 10 prisoners dead, bad publicity for the British government but with victory by the British government. This occurred because Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was willing to give in on the less important and offensive items and absolutely firm on the more important items. The hunger strike led Sinn Fein to go from being the p.r. department of the IRA to being an electoral party contesting elections and eventually eclipsing the IRA by becoming the senior partner in the Republican Movement. Eventually this led to peace some 26 years later.

  1. December 2, 2010 at 19:22

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