As the world marks International Women's Day, 65 Palestinian women, including 12 minors, are being imprisoned by Israel under dire conditions, according to a statement released by the Palestinian Prisoner's Society (PPS) on Tuesday.
The 65 women are being held in Israel's HaSharon and Damon prisons, where prison cells are unbearably cold in winter and hot in summer. In addition, the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) imposes restrictions on provision of clothes, bed sheets, and shoes, PPS said.
The statement said that Palestinian political prisoners were held in cells very close to those of Israeli women held on criminal charges, and they were subjected to routine verbal abuse from the Israeli prisoners.
According to the statement, the longest serving female prisoner is Lina al-Jarbouni, who has been jailed since 2002.
“Palestinian women continue to suffer severe psychological, physical, and emotional abuse and endure grave acts of oppression, violence, and hardship at the hands of Israel and its unbridled violations," PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement on Tuesday to mark the eve of International Women's Day.
According to Ashrawi, since the Israeli military takeover of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip in 1967, some 15,000 Palestinian women and girls have been imprisoned by Israeli authorities.
Ashrawi went on to honor Palestinian women for their role in the national resistance against Israeli occupation, saying that "the national struggle for self-determination, freedom, and dignity in spite of the challenges and difficulties they face... are the focal principles that govern the struggle of women for their own rights within Palestinian society and beyond."
On Saturday, spokesperson of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Center for Studies Amina al-Tawil released a statement describing the harsh conditions facing Palestinian women prisoners being held in HaSharon and Damon, highlighting that living conditions “worsen day by day,” noting that many Palestinian women prisoners lacked the “basics of human life,” while prison officials “ban them from even simple rights and from continuing their studies.”
At the time, IPS had temporarily transferred 16 Palestinian women prisoners in Section 11 of HaSharon prison to Damon prison in order to begin much-needed repairs in the prison section.
Al-Tawil noted at the time that 12 of the transferred prisoners have been suffering from bullet wounds inflicted by Israeli forces at the time of their detentions, and have experienced medical neglect during their imprisonment.
Israel's HaSharon prison was where the youngest Palestinian prisoner, 12-year-old Dima al-Wawi, was held for more than two months last year after Israeli forces accused her of attempted manslaughter and being in possession of a knife when she was detained.
Since a wave of political unrest spread across the occupied Palestinian territory in October 2015, leading to Israeli forces carrying out mass detention campaigns, the number of Palestinian women and girls detained by Israeli forces has risen sharply. In 2015 alone, Israeli forces detained 106 Palestinian women and girls, which according to Addameer represented a 70 percent increase compared to detention numbers in 2013.
Most Palestinian women detained by Israeli forces are held in HaSharon and Damon, which the group pointed out are both located outside of the 1967 occupied Palestinian territory, in direct violation of international law that states that an occupying power must hold detainees within the occupied territory.
Addameer has also reported on the treatment of Palestinian women prisoners by Israeli prison authorities, stating that the majority of Palestinian women detainees were subjected to "psychological torture" and "ill-treatment" by Israeli authorities, including "various forms of sexual violence that occur such as beatings, insults, threats, body searches, and sexually explicit harassment.”
“These techniques of torture and ill-treatment are used not only as means to intimidate Palestinian women detainees but also as tools to humiliate Palestinian women and coerce them into giving confessions,” the group stated, adding that “while Israel’s prison authorities and military forces recruit women soldiers to detain, and accompany women prisoners during transfers, the female soldiers responsible for these procedures are no less violent towards Palestinian detainees than their male counterparts.”
Meanwhile, the group has also researched the “policy of medical negligence” by IPS officials in the prisons, citing a study conducted in 2008 by the group that revealed that “approximately 38 percent of Palestinian female prisoners suffer from treatable diseases that go untreated. The poor quality of food and lack of essential nutrients cause women detainees to suffer from weight loss, general weakness, anemia and iron deficiency.”