IN A REPORT on Palestinian resistance fighters held in Israeli prisons through to the end of August, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) said on Monday that out of 4,650 incarcerated Palestinians held in 23 prisons, detention and interrogation centres, there are 200 minors and 40 women.
The report was published on the same day that an audacious prison break was reported, with six Palestinian prisoners successfully tunnelling out of Gilboa prison in the north of Israel early on Monday morning.
The PPS report said 544 of the resistance fighters are serving one or more life sentences with one of them, Abdullah Barghouti, sentenced to a record 67 life terms.
In addition, around 520 Palestinians are being held under ‘administrative detention’ – without charge or trial and based on secret evidence not available to any party except the military judge.
The PPS also said 25 resistance fighters are considered among the most senior of the prisoners with Karim Younis and Maher Younis incarcerated since 1983, while Nael Barghouti spent a total of 41 years behind bars of which 34 were continuous after which he was released in a prisoners’ exchange but later re-arrested.
It said 226 prisoners have died while in detention since the start of the Israeli occupation in June 1967, including 75 who died as a result of ‘pre-meditated murder’, 73 died during torture, seven were shot and killed directly, and 71 died due to medical negligence.
In addition, said the PPS, the bodies of seven Palestinians who died while incarcerated are still being held by Israel and have not been turned over to their families for burial; one of these died in 1980, another in 2018, three in 2019, and two in 2020.
Six Palestinian prisoners, most of them serving life term for resisting the Israeli occupation, broke out of Gilboa prison in the north of Israel on Monday after digging a tunnel, according to Israeli reports.
They said the prisoners had spent months or even years digging the tunnel they escaped through during the night.
The breakout was not detected until hours later when the Israel army started a widescale search for them.
The prisoners were identified as:
Mahmoud Abdallah Arda, 46, from Arraba town near Jenin, arrested in 1996 and serving a life sentence.
Mohammad Qassem Arda, 39, from Arraba, arrested in 2002 and serving a life sentence.
Yacoub Mahmoud Qaderi, 49, from Beir al-Basha, inside Israel, arrested in 2003 and serving a life sentence.
Ayham Kamanji, 35, from Kufr Dan, near Jenin, arrested in 2006 and serving a life sentence.
Zakaria Zubeidi, 46, from Jenin refugee camp, arrested in 2019 and has not been sentenced.
Munadel Yacoub Infeiat, 26, from Yabad near Jenin arrested in 2019.
Also on Monday, Israeli occupation forces detained at least 10 Palestinians from various parts of the occupied territories, including two minors.
They rounded up three Palestinians after ransacking the houses of their families in Amari refugee camp in Ramallah.
The soldiers also detained a university student after breaking into and searching his family house in Surda town, north of Ramallah.
They conducted a similar raid in Abu Shkheidim village, northwest of Ramallah city, resulting in the detention of another.
Also in Ramallah district, Israeli forces rounded up two minors, including a 13-year-old, at the entrance to the Jalazon refugee camp, north of the city.
In the northern West Bank, undercover Israeli forces, known as Mista’arvim, sneaked into Fahma and Jaba villages, southwest of Jenin, and abducted two Palestinian men.
Elsewhere, a Palestinian farmer sustained injuries on Sunday afternoon after he was shot by Israeli occupation soldiers as he worked his land in the village of Juhor ad-Dik, south of Gaza City.
Israeli soldiers stationed in watchtowers along the border with the Gaza Strip opened gunfire and injured the farmer while he was working in his own farm, which is adjacent to the border with the occupying state of Israel.
Israel does not allow Palestinians to be within 300 metres from the borders, which it unilaterally considers a buffer zone, and often opens fire on the farmers or whoever reaches those areas.
Attacks by Israeli forces on Palestinian fishermen and farmers in Gaza are almost a daily occurrence, but are rarely prosecuted by Israeli official authorities.
Meanwhile, the Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Mohammad Hussein, the highest Islamic figure in Palestine, warned on Monday against calls by Zionist fanatics for incursions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s old city during the upcoming Jewish holidays.
He said in a statement that the calls by extremist Jewish groups on their followers to show up in large numbers at Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, the third holiest site in Islam, in the coming weeks is a dangerous escalation that aims to change the status quo of the holy place as a Muslim-only worship area.
‘These calls come in the context of the frantic campaign led by the Israeli occupation government to Judaise the holy city as planned,’ said Hussein.
‘What the city of Jerusalem is facing aims at Judaising it completely, dividing the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque temporally and spatially, changing the features of the Arab and Islamic city, and creating a new fait accompli that prevents Arabs and Muslims from reaching it,’ said the Mufti.
He called on Muslims in the holy land to be present all the time at the Mosque to block attempts by the fanatics to desecrate it and change its status, and on Muslims around the world to do what they can to protect Al-Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem from attempts to change their status.
Zionist extremist organisations that seek to see the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, which together form the walled Al-Haram Al-Sharif, or holy sanctuary, destroyed and replaced by a Jewish temple, are taking advantage of the Jewish holidays to urge their followers to be present at the Muslim holy compound in an effort to change its current status and eventually take it over.
Israeli police regularly provide protection as they escort the fanatics on their tour of the holy compound.
Palestinians, including Mosque employees and guards, who object to the behaviour of the fanatics if they break the rules of the visit, are either detained or ordered to remain away from the compound for several weeks and months.
- The Palestinian Authority (PA) is still waiting for US President Joe Biden to start implementing his election promises regarding the Palestinian issue, said Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh yesterday .
‘We expect the US administration to implement the steps announced by President Biden during his election campaign,’ Shtayyeh said in an interview on Palestine TV.
He said that the recent visit of Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to Washington and his meeting with Biden had not produced great results for Bennett since the US President stressed the two-state solution, the importance of preserving the status quo in Jerusalem, the refunding of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestine refugees, and the reopening of the US consulate in occupied East Jerusalem.
Shtayyeh said there was a discussion with the US administration on one basic topic and that was the demand that Israel abide by the agreements it had signed with the Palestinians, in addition to ending its aggression against the Palestinian people, stopping its settlement programme, preserving the status quo in Jerusalem and reopening the US consulate in East Jerusalem.
He said he called on President Biden to issue a statement saying that the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and the PA are partners with Washington in the peace process, adding that ‘we are still waiting to hear an answer.’
Regarding the recent meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Israeli Minister Benny Gantz, the Prime Minister said that had been the first meeting with an Israeli official in 11 years in light of the absence of a political horizon, adding that if more such meetings take place, Israel should come back with answers to the questions raised in the meeting by President Abbas.
Shtayyeh said President Abbas is leading political efforts with other Arab countries to push the International Quartet on the Middle East peace process to come up with an initiative for a negotiation track with Israel based on new foundations.
‘We do not want to go back to the square of the former bilateral negotiations with Israel,’ he said. ‘We want negotiations based on international law and the United Nations and under the umbrella of the International Quartet.’