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Committee: Israel agrees to stop 'escalations' against Palestinian prisoners amid protests

Feb. 3, 2017 4:43 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 3, 2017 10:12 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Leadership of the Hamas movement and the Israeli Prison Service on Friday reportedly reached an agreement to “stop escalations” against Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons, according to the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners' Affairs.

Head of the committee Issa Qaraqe said in a statement that the agreement stated that “escalations” in Israeli prisons “will be immediately halted,” all prisoners who were transferred during raids will be moved back to their original sections during next week, all prisoners held in solitary confinement will be returned to their communal cells, and that Messada officers, the “takeover” unit of the IPS, will not be allowed to enter prisoners’ cells.

An IPS spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

According to Qaraqe, IPS stepped up punitive measures against Palestinian prisoners in the Ktziot detention center on Thursday, after a Palestinian prisoner attacked an Israeli warden with a razor blade the night before.

He added that IPS imposed collective punishment measures on the Palestinian prisoners, cutting off electricity and using pepper spray against the prisoners in all the raided sections.

The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) reported on Thursday that IPS was planning on conducting new raids in Section 2 and 3 of Ktziot.

An IPS spokesperson confirmed to Ma’an that an attack had taken place against a warden in Ktziot, but could not immediately provide further details.

Meanwhile, Hebrew-language news sites reported that IPS had transferred 40 Palestinian prisoners from Ktziot and Nafha to other prisons on Thursday, adding that prisoners had attempted to prevent the transfer process.

Qaraqe said that IPS had escalated tensions in Ktziot after reports emerged on Wednesday that a Palestinian prisoner had allegedly stabbed and lightly injured an IPS officer in Nafha prison.

Qaraqe said at the time that IPS conducted “humiliating” punitive procedures against Palestinian prisoners in Nafha, forcing them to fully undress and stand outside of their prison section naked as the wardens searched through their belongings and cut off the electricity.

In response to reports of the increasing punitive measures, dozens of Palestinians from the Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem in the southern occupied West Bank marched on Thursday in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli prisons.

The march went through streets of the refugee camp -- which is the largest of three refugee camps in Bethlehem -- condemning the violations against Palestinian prisoners in several Israeli prisons at the hands of Israeli prisoner officials, specifically the reports of assault and invasive searches.

Meanwhile, the Islamic Jihad movement organized Friday a solidarity march in the Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, with the head of media office of Islamic Jihad Dawoud Shihab saying that “Islamic Jihad will not abandon Palestinian prisoners who are facing the ‘ugliest’ types of torture and assault.”

The head of the media committee of Muhjet al-Quds organization Yassir Saleh expressed worries about Israeli escalations against Palestinian prisoners, and called upon everyone to “stand united in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners.”

He also called upon Red Cross to fulfill its duties towards Palestinian prisoners amid Israeli aggression against them, and that Muhjet al-Quds would continue its work to support Palestinian prisoners “until they gain dignity and victory.”

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