Israeli prison authorities launched a brutal assault on 32 Palestinian female political prisoners. The incidents over the past weekend, featured Israeli guards beating female prisoners, pepper spraying them, removing their hijabs and pulling their hair — even knocking one woman unconscious.
According to The Prisoner Club, a representative organisation for Palestinian political prisoners, three female prisoners were brutalized and thrown into solitary confinement last week. Shorooq Douyat, Marah Bakir, and Mona Kaadan all were reportedly dragged from their cells along cement floors, then beaten and thrown into solitary confinement.
The measures taken by Israel’s military prison sparked outrage from other female prisoners in Damon Jail, causing them to bang on their cell doors and chant against the guards. Israeli guards then reportedly decided to shut off the electricity in the cells, before proceeding to enter them with weapons to violently assault the helpless women.
Palestinians are the most highly incarcerated population in the world, since the beginning of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem in 1967. Of all those detained and arrested, 10,000 of them have been women, many being pregnant or minors. All Palestinians from the occupied territories who are imprisoned by Israel are held in military prisons and are political prisoners. Many are held in administrative detention (held without charge), which can last for up to 20 years and beyond. For those who are sentenced in a military court, they are destined to get an unfair trial, are tortured, offered less than satisfactory legal representation, and are often physically forced to sign documents of admission in Hebrew which they often cannot understand. The Israeli military courts also convict more than 99.9% of detainees, meaning that it is almost a guarantee that you will be charged with something, regardless of the evidence, whether or not you are innocent.
The prisoner issue for Palestinians has long been a point of great agitation with the Israeli occupation authorities. This is due to literally everyone in the occupied territories knowing someone from their family who has been incarcerated, if not themselves who were or are. So when female prisoners are attacked and brutalized, on top of the psychological and often physical torture they routinely receive, this strikes a cord in Palestinian society at large.
No where else does this become more apparent than amongst male political prisoners. This Monday, a political prisoner and member of Hamas, named Youssef Al-Mabhouh, used a sharp object to stab an Israeli guard at the Nafha Prison, managing to injure the Israeli officer in the face. Youssef made it clear that the measure he took was in response to what had been done to the female Palestinian prisoners.
Fellow political prisoners at the Nafha prison also took action by protesting and were beaten, before being stripped of their clothes and placed out in the open in iron chains. The Prison Administration also transferred members of the Leadership Council for Hamas prisoners, Ashraf al-Zoghair, Munir Merhi, and Muhammad Arman out from Nafha Prison to an unknown destination.
As a result of these escalatory measures taken by Israel’s military prison system, Palestinian political and armed organisations have responded, calling for action. Hamas has called the abuse of Palestinian women — which is still ongoing — a “red line” that has been crossed, warning that all weapons and means are now open as a means of responding to defend the women of Palestine.
If Israel continues on its brutal crackdown and abuse of female Palestinian political prisoners it is possible that there could even be another escalation with the armed groups in Gaza. If it is not rockets that are to fly into Israeli occupied lands, armed operations in the West Bank are a near guarantee.