By Laila el-Haddad
Posted Monday, April 17, 2006
I’m very tired so instead of posting something on how all hells break loose here between one second and the next, and how just when you say to yourself-well how about that, only 20 shells today! and no gunbattles between bickering testosterone charged gunmen with nothing better to do! and no suicide bombings!…well..needless to say, things have a way of turning very bad, very quickly here. 9 killed in Tel Aviv, another Palestinian boy killed in Beit Lahiya by Israeli shelling (that makes 16 since the start of the year)… and I just heard an explosion near my house…
instead, I’m going to talk about commemorations of Palestinian Prisoners Day (yes, we have so many “days”), and then go to sleep, because God knows we ALL need sleep
Thousands of Palestinians-mothers, sisters, daughters, sons-from all different factions filled the streets of Gaza City today to commemorate Palestinian Prisoner’s Day-April 17.
Palestinians marched through the streets of Gaza to the Palestinian Legislative Council, carrying pictures of their imprisoned family members and in some cases symbolically tying their hands together with chains. They called on Palestinian parliament members and ministers, human rights organizations and the world community to make the release of the prisoners a top priority.
The parliament convened a special session to address the plight of the prisoners today.
One of the demonstrators, 27-year-old Leila Dabbagh, had not seen her fiancé who is being held in an Israeli jail, for 5 years. They got legally married, but had not yet consumated the marriage, at the time of his imprisonment.
Others are able to see their detained loved ones through the Red Cross, only by glass partitions. Extended family members cannot go however. One women wept as she told me she had not seen her only nephew in 18 years. Most of those detained are very young. Children grow up without ever really knowing their fathers.
The issue of the prisoners is a uniting factor, a common denominator amongst Palestinians.
Some 8000 Palestinians are being held in Israeli prisons or detention centers by the Israeli army, including 370 minors and 103 Palestinian women, according to the Palestinian prisoner’s rights and support group, Addammeer.
Over 750 are held without charge or trial.
The overwhelming majority of Palestinian prisoners are regarded as political captives who have been arbitrarily imprisoned or detained under the broad banner of “security”, according to the Israeli human rights group B’tselem.
“If these same standards were applied inside Israel, half of the Likud party would be in administrative detention,” noted the group in a report.
Palestinians have been subjected to the highest rate of incarceration in the world-since the beginning of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories in 1967, over 650,000 Palestinians have been detained by Israel-constituting some 20% of the total Palestinian population, and 40% of all Palestinian men.
According to Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, and Btselem, their conditions of detention are extremely poor, with many prisoners suffering from medical negligence, routine beatings, position torture and strip searches.