Prisoners tales: Palestinian captives suffer in the cold

PNN/ Ramallah/

The Palestinian Prisoner Center for Studies (PPCS) has voiced its deep concern over the health and lives of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, especially in the Negev desert prison, as a result of the harsh weather conditions that hit the region.

According to the Palestinian information center (PIC), PPCS complained in a statement on Sunday, that most of Israeli jails have no means to protect captives from heavy rain, cold weather and winter storms, especially those prisons that have tents like some of the sections in Negev and Ofer jails.

Spokesman for the center Riyadh al-Ashqar warned that the Israeli prisons “have no protection means against heavy rains and cold temperatures.”

He added that the Israeli jails also lack sufficient winter clothing and blankets for prisoners, whose numbers increased as a result of recent arrest campaigns.

The spokesman appealed to human rights groups and the Red Cross to visit the prisoners in Israeli jails and work on meeting their essential needs.

PIC has published some tales from behind the bars

Exploiting the extreme cold weather in the West Bank especially at night, the Israeli Prison Service chains Palestinian prisoners in cells without heating or blankets. The Israeli occupation authorities use the cold weather as another tool of torture.

The freed Palestinian prisoner, Bilal Jaber, from Ramallah confirmed Israel’s use of cold as a weapon during the Israeli interrogations of the Palestinian prisoners. Jaber said, “During the interrogations, an Israeli officer brought me into a cell. It was empty of anything and I was handcuffed to the back. The temperature in there was very cold, and he left the cell window open for the whole 24 hours to make the cell colder. This caused me a severe flue afterwards.”

Alaa Al-Hasan, a boy from Jerusalem, remembered how the Israeli soldiers arrested him and kept him in solitary confinement for 5 hours. He was charged with throwing a stone at a settler. He said, “It is like time stops in the cell. You never know it is day or night— you do not know what time it is; you do not hear the call for prayer; you only have a dim light in the ceiling and the sounds of chains and the knocking on the cells’ gates. It is extremely cold in there.”

“The interrogator came and told me, ‘you will stay in this cold cell until you confess.’ I told him I did nothing to punish me with this extreme cold and I asked for blankets but he refused”, he added

Taha Tahir, a newly freed prisoner from Ofer prison, from Qalandiya refugee camp, said, “Every moment is a torment in the Israeli cells but we have to bear it. Ofer prison cells are extremely and severely cold as the prison is near high Ramallah which was snowy during Huda winter storm.”

Awad Ratib, a freed prisoner from Nablus, stated, “It is not only the cold that tortures the Palestinian prisoners in the Israeli jails but also the back handcuffs, the stinky bags on their heads, beating, insulting Islam, insulting the prisoner’s mother, sisters and daughters and depriving him/her of sleeping, eating, and drinking.”

Analysts believe Israel’s brutality against Palestinians has never curbed their determination to be free. On the contrary, the more ruthless Israel grows against Palestinian prisoners, the more determined Palestinian resistance is to free them by all means available, including capturing Israeli soldiers.

Hamas and other resistance factions managed to free more than 1000 Palestinian prisoners. They have always sworn to exert every possible effort in order to free all Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.

The Shalit deal, according to Hamas sources, will not be the last one until all Palestinian prisoners are freed.