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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: La cruauté israélienne tue des prisonniers

by Pierre Barbancey

Israeli Cruelty Kills Prisoners

Translated Wednesday 21 September 2016, by Henry Crapo

Ramallah (Occupied Palestinian Territories), by special envoy

On Thursday, when the Israeli High Court of Justice will make known its verdict, will Bilal Kayed still be alive?

The Palestinian, age 35, from Nablus, and a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), has been on a hunger strike for seventy days. His health has worsened. So much so that Israeli doctors from Physicians for Human Rights (PHRI) are concerned for his survival. He is in an emergency ward, in a hospital bed, duly handcuffed in case he would have thoughts of escaping, despite the fact that his vision is impaired, that he finds it hard to get up, and that he can hardly walk alone!

More than 150 Palestinian prisoners observing a hunger strike to support their fellow PFLP Bilal Kayed, who is dying.

Photo Ahmad Gharabli, AFP

The case of Bilal Kayed is an example of the arbitrariness of the occupying administration. The will of the latter to break human beings, to bully and humiliate. Bilal Kayed was just 20 years old when he was arrested and sentenced. June 13, 2006, he was to be released after serving a sentence of fourteen and a half years imprisonment. All former detainees can explain this: it is a special day, long awaited. Gone, at least for a time, the abuse, the deprivation, the isolation from his family. Another life can begin, even though the Israeli occupation remains. Finally, everyone can well imagine what it can mean to an inmate. So on the morning of June 13, Bilal, surrounded by his fellow prisoners, prepares to greet them one last time. He was wrong.

"We must fight the battle against administrative detention"

That same day, instead of being led to the bus that transports released prisoners, he was led again before a "court". Everything collapses. The "judge" lets it be known to Bilal that he will not be released. He will be in administrative detention for six months. Administrative detention. A denial of rights. The Israeli can, under this cover, arrest a person and detain him without disclosing the charges alleged against him. And those six months may be extended at the whim of the military justice. Seven hundred and fifty Palestinians are currently in this category. Including women, children, and members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). "We must launch the battle against administrative detention," insists Khalida Jarrar, member of the PFLP, who, himself, was released last June. She talks about the conditions of detention, of the 62 women still locked up, of journeys to the court, of long waits in trucks, in the cold and heat.

Currently, 6 Palestinians in administrative detention observe a hunger strike and 150 others support it, refusing, in rotation, to go to bed. Of the six, our colleague Omar Nazzal, 54, a member of the Palestinian Journalists Union, has been in administrative detention since 23 April, the detention beeing extended for another three months, with neither trial nor charges being laid. He has ceased taking food since August 4. In a letter to Israel’s ambassador to France, the French journalists’ unions (SNJ-CGT, SNJ, CFDT) and the European (EFJ) and International (IFJ) Federations demand the release of Omar Nazzal and indicate that "the arbitrary detention of journalists must stop, as well as the unwarranted lawsuits to which the journalists are subject."

The issue of Palestinian political prisoners - there are more than 7,000 now - is obviously not a side issue that can be dealt with later. It is the very proof of the Israeli colonial repression. "The worst thing is to feel isolated against a racist and fascist occupation that propels one toward extremism. The Israelis want to change our battle, to turn it into a political conflict or a religious conflict," said Qadoura Fares, animator of the prisoners’ club, close friend to Marwan Barghouti, to an official delegation of CPF currently on site [1]. He denounced impunity of Israel, which "not only does not listen to the world but amends its laws so as to make them worse." Thus, the possible age to judge a Palestinian child was reduced from 14 years (which was already contrary to international conventions) to 12 years. Three hundred and fifty children between 12 and 18 years, languish in Israeli jails. A new law stipulates that a child who throws a stone at the occupying army is liable to twenty years in prison! Now this is the charge most commonly brought against them. Anyone who attends the trial of a child so small, who sits on a chair, his feet not even touching the ground, and who sees him look up at the judge with terror, understands the ignominy of this act. "Israel is a savage state that practices collective punishment and does not respect human rights," says Qadoura Fares. Bilal Kayed, handcuffed to a hospital bed, knows. Thursday a big demonstration is organized in Ramallah to support him.

[1The delegation of the Communist Party, led by Raphaelle Primet, a member of the national committee, has already met with the Palestinian People’s Party (PPP Communist), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Fatah and facilitators the Boycott campaign, divestment and sanctions (BDS). She will also hold talks with Israeli and associations with the Israeli Communist Party.

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