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Israel continues to hold 15 Hamas-affiliated prisoners in solitary confinement

Feb. 7, 2017 5:21 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 8, 2017 4:02 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Israel Prison Service (IPS) continued to hold 15 Hamas-affiliated Palestinian prisoners in solitary confinement as of Tuesday, as a punitive measure following two stabbings that were allegedly carried out on IPS officials in the Nafha and Ktziot prisons last week.

According to Israel’s Channel 2 news site, IPS has taken punitive measures against hundreds of Palestinians in the two Israeli prisons following the alleged attacks, despite reports on Friday that Israel and Hamas leadership had cut a deal to prevent any further escalations in the prisons.

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

However, according to Channel 2, IPS officials have refused to speak with the Hamas-affiliated prisoners and have insisted on perpetuating punitive measures against them, some of which included banning family visits, freezing the prisoners’ access to their funds in the prison commissary, and continuing daily raids in the prison sections and inmate cells.

An IPS spokesperson was not immediately available to comment.

Three Palestinians on Friday were also brought before an Israeli court on charges related to the alleged attacks.

On Wednesday afternoon, a Palestinian prisoner stabbed an Israeli prison official in Nafha, with Palestinian Committee of Prisoners' Affairs head Issa Qaraqe calling the ensuing punitive procedures carried out against prisoners “humiliating."

Qaraqe said at the time that IPS officials conducted an “unprecedented raid” in Section 1 of Nafha, forcing the Palestinian prisoners to fully undress, leading them outside of the section “while naked in the cold weather, also searching and destroying their personal belongings and cutting the electricity off.”

Qaraqe called the situation in Nafha “unbearable,” and said that the stabbing was a Palestinian prisoner “reacting to these [common] procedures and trying to defend himself.”

Meanwhile, IPS officials had also stepped up punitive measures against Palestinian prisoners in the Ktziot detention center after a Palestinian prisoner allegedly attacked an Israeli warden with a razor blade.

Qaraqe said the measures in Ktziot that IPS constituted collective punishment, which has including cutting off electricity and using pepper spray against the prisoners in all the raided sections.

On Thursday, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum denounced the “dangerous and savage” prison raids, identifying the Palestinian prisoner who reportedly stabbed an IPS warden in Nafha as Hamas member Khalid al-Silawi, saying that he had acted in “self-defense” and in reaction to continuous Israeli violations and raids against Palestinian prisoners.

Hamas identified the prisoner who attacked an IPS officer in Ktziot as Ahmad Amr Nassar.

According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, 6,500 Palestinians were detained by Israel as of January.

IPS authorities have regularly used raids, confiscation of personal belongings, and forcible prison transfers to suppress resistance among Palestinian prisoners.

A small fraction of Palestinians detained by Israel are held inside the occupied territory, while the vast majority are transferred to prisons inside Israel, limiting their access to their families, legal support, and communities, and also stripping detainees of their rights under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

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