Collective punishment of Palestinians–thrown into prison without charge or trial!

Palestinian home being demolished by the Israeli army
Palestinian home being demolished by the Israeli army

COLLECTIVE punishment has reached new outrageous levels, with the father of a young Palestinian shot dead by Israeli forces being arrested and thrown into jail without trial or charge, simply because he is his father.

Israeli authorities on Monday issued an ‘administrative detention order’, on 49-year-old Bassam Hammad, from the village of Silwad near Ramallah, to hold him in prison for six months, without a charge or trial.

21-year-old Mohammad Abdur-Rahman Ayyad, was shot dead by the army about four days ago, after he allegedly rammed his car into Israeli soldiers near the village. Troops stormed the family home, wreaking havoc in the house and threatened the family during Mohammad Ayyad’s father, Bassam’s arrest. Bassam is the only source of income for his family of five.

Administrative detention is the imprisonment of Palestinians without charge or trial for up to six month periods, indefinitely renewable by Israeli military courts. Israel uses administrative detention routinely as a form of collective punishment and mass detention of Palestinians.

The Israeli army, also on Monday notified their intent to demolish Mohammad Abdur-Rahman Ayyad’s family home. During the raid, in which Bassam was arrested, soldiers took measurements of the house, as a prelude to punitively demolish it.

B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, says: ‘The people who bear the brunt of the punitive demolitions are relatives – including women, the elderly, and children – whom Israel does not suspect of involvement in any offense. In the vast majority of cases, the person whose actions prompted the demolition was not even living in the house at the time of the demolition.’

It said that, ‘Since this constitutes deliberate harm to innocents, it is clear that even if house demolition had the desired deterrent effect, it would, nevertheless, remain unlawful.’

Amnesty International argued that the Israeli authorities’ claim that such demolitions are effective in dissuading potential attackers ‘is entirely irrelevant in the eyes of International humanitarian law, which places clear limits on the actions which an occupying power may take in the name of security, and the absolute prohibition on collective punishment is one of the most important of these rules. ‘Collective punishment is never permissible under any circumstances.’

At least 129 Palestinians, including 26 minors and six women, have been killed by Israeli fire since the beginning of the uprising in the early October 2015. The rights group B’Tselem decried Israel’s ‘excessive and unwarranted use of lethal gunfire’ as its forces killed seven more Palestinians in the last week, and a woman died of her injuries after being shot at a checkpoint in November.

Abdallah Nasasra, 15, was killed near the Huwwara military checkpoint outside the northern West Bank city of Nablus on Thursday, 17 December. An Israeli army spokesperson said that the boy had ‘charged at soldiers with a knife’.

A Palestinian ambulance driver said that soldiers prevented medical teams from treating the teen.

Nasasra’s body has now been withheld by Israel. Israel is holding the bodies of dozens of Palestinians killed in alleged attacks, including more than 12 children.

Nasasra was killed shortly before the funeral for 18-year-old Samah Abd al-Mumin Abdallah, who died from her wounds weeks after she was hit by a bullet while sitting in her father’s car at Huwwara checkpoint. The young woman was shot when Israeli forces opened fire on and killed Alaa Khalil Hashash, 16, who allegedly tried to stab a soldier on 23 November.

Two dozen children are among the approximately 125 Palestinians who have been killed by Israeli forces during weeks of increased violence. Many Palestinians are fired on ‘even after they no longer posed any danger,’ B’Tselem stated. ‘Some are injured and lying motionless on the ground when they were shot dead,’ according to the rights group.

Many of the incidents are recorded on video. ‘Some cases were summary executions, without the benefit of law or trial.’ The group added that the Israeli army deploy a ‘shoot to kill’ policy. That policy left three young Palestinians dead after alleged car ramming attacks this week.

A 21-year-old Palestinian man, Abd al-Muhsen al-Husseini, was shot and killed after allegedly ramming his car into a bus stop, injuring several people, in Jerusalem on Monday. Two other Palestinians – Ahmad Jahajha, 23, and Hikmat Hamdan, 33, were shot dead in separate incidents after allegedly attempting to run over Israeli soldiers who were raiding Qalandiya refugee camp near Ramallah in the pre-dawn hours on Wednesday.

Israeli forces fired on Jahajha at close range ‘after he rammed his vehicle into a group of Israeli soldiers’. Witnesses said that Israeli forces left Jahajha to ‘bleed to death’ before taking his body and detaining another resident who had also been shot.

About an hour later, soldiers in another area of the camp fired on and killed Hamdan. Clashes reportedly broke out between armed men defending the refugee camp and Israeli military forces at around 4:30am. Four Palestinians were injured with live fire during the raid, one of whom was left in serious condition, according to Palestinian medical sources.

Two Palestinians were slain during protests in both the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip last Friday. Sami Madi, 41, was shot and killed with a live bullet to the chest during a demonstration along the Gaza-Israel boundary east of al-Bureij refugee camp.

Seventeen civilians, including two children and a journalist, were wounded during the same protest, according to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. Israeli forces fired on protesters in Hebron who were marking the anniversary of the establishment of Hamas, killing 24-year-old Uday Jihad Irsheid, who was hit with two live bullets to the chest and neck.

Eight others were wounded, including a journalist. Irsheid’s sister Dania was killed by Israeli soldiers at the entrance to Hebron’s Ibrahimi mosque on 25 October. Israeli Border Police claimed that the 17-year-old girl had pulled out a knife and moved towards them at a checkpoint outside the mosque.

But eyewitnesses said the girl was shot dead when she had her hands in the air and had told the soldiers ‘I do not have a knife’. Also last Friday Israeli forces stationed near Hebron killed Issa Hroub, claiming the 56-year-old had attempted to run over them.

After pulling him out of his vehicle the Israeli soldiers left him bleeding without offering him first aid.

Hroub, from the Deir Samit village near Hebron, was a trader who moved throughout Jerusalem and had two wives and 16 children, eight of whom were under the age of 18.

Hroub is one of many Palestinians killed in the past several weeks who were denied or prevented from receiving first aid after being shot by Israeli soldiers and police. The Israel Medical Association’s ethics committee issued ‘new guidelines’ this week calling on paramedics to prioritise treatment according to the severity of injury, even if that means attending to an alleged attacker before his or her victims.

The association’s previous guidelines called for ‘treating victims before alleged perpetrators’, contrary to the principle of medical neutrality. The new guidelines, which were drafted after a petition by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, have been fiercely attacked, with Israel’s former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman calling on the head of the medical association to resign.

Israel’s ZAKA volunteer emergency service said that it rejects the new guidelines. The head of Magen David Adom, Israel’s national emergency service, said on Israeli radio that its rule is ‘to treat the most seriously wounded person who is in life-threatening danger’.

Eli Bein added that ‘We treat the wounded, but if the security forces at the scene forbid our crew from treating a wounded person we don’t’. Israeli forces routinely forbid treatment of wounded Palestinians, leaving them to bleed to death in the streets, as reports from Palestinian sources and Israeli rights groups show.

On Sunday, 13 December, Israeli forces at a checkpoint near Kiryat Arba settlement opened fire on 16-year-old Lama al-Bakri, hitting her in the legs. The wounded girl was left on the ground bleeding for half an hour. It was only after she almost bled to death that she was evacuated to an Israeli hospital. Israel claimed that the teen had attempted to ‘stab a settler’.

• A Palestinian woman jailed in Israel ended on Sunday an over two-week long hunger strike after Israel’s prison service pledged to meet her demands, a prisoners’ rights group said. The Palestinian Prisoners Centre for Studies said that that 30-year-old Ihsan Hasan Dababsa, from the Hebron-area village of Nuba, began the strike after the prison service moved her from Hasharon to al-Damon prison.

Dababsa was transferred with several other women due to overcrowding of the Hasharon prison amid an ongoing arrest campaign taking place across the occupied Palestinian territory. The prisoner ended her strike after Israel’s prison service agreed to transfer her back to Hasharon by mid-January.

Dababsa is one of over 40 Palestinian women currently held in Israeli jails, the majority of whom are held in Hasharon and al-Damon prisons inside of Israel.

Prisoners rights group Addameer has reported that the majority of Palestinian women detained by Israeli forces are subjected to psychological torture and ill-treatment during their detention. Last month, famed hunger striker Muhammad Allan was released in an agreement with Israeli authorities to end his administrative detention, reached after a 66-day long strike.