Addameer: Israeli Occupation Proceeds with Mass Arrests and Collective Punishment

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31 December 2015

Since the beginning of the popular uprising that started three months ago all over the occupied Palestinian territories, Israeli occupation authorities continued to escalate its policies of oppression and collective punishment against Palestinians. According to Addameer’s statistics, Israeli occupation forces arrested more than 2663 Palestinians since the beginning of October 2015. Over 620 Palestinians including 177 children were arrested from occupied Jerusalem, 1,885 Palestinians including 278 children were arrested from the rest of the occupied West Bank and 158 Palestinians including 24 children were arrested from the 1948 occupied territories. The number of Palestinian political prisoners drastically increased after this widespread mass arrests campaign to reach approximately 6,800 prisoners and detainees including 660 administrative detainees, more than 470 children, 60 female prisoners and five members of the Palestinian Legislative Council.

Addameer monitored a concerning escalation in the use of the arbitrary administrative detention under which Palestinians are detained without a charge or trial. For the first time in years, Israeli occupation has subjected 6 children to administrative detention in the past few months and has used it against Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem and 1948 occupied territories. The number of Palestinians held under administrative detention has doubled since the beginning of October from 343 detainees to currently 660 detainees. Israeli occupation forces further arrested dozens of Palestinians under the claim of "incitement" via social media platforms many of whom are being held under administrative detention. Israeli occupation forces are also targeting Palestinian human rights defenders and journalists and are increasingly resorting to the policy of deportation against Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem. The escalation in arrests resulted in major overcrowding in Israeli occupation’s prisons and detention centers which resulted in further deteriorating the living conditions inside prisons in addition to holding Palestinian political prisoners in the same sections with criminal prisoners. Addameer also monitored the opening of new prisons and sections in the past few months as a result of the overcrowding where two new sections (tents) were opened in Naqab prison, a section in Gelboa prison, a section for children in Ramleh prison (called “Givon” and was closed recently), in addition to a section for female prisoners in Damon prison.

Addameer’s lawyers documented a wide range of violations practiced against Palestinian prisoners including the increased use of torture and ill-treatment especially the use of physical violence and brutal assaults during arrest and interrogation. Addameer has also documented an increase in raids on cells and conducting humiliating searches and strip searches. Addameer also monitored the arrest of dozens of injured Palestinians who were not provided with appropriate medical treatment and additionally were subjected to interrogation in hospitals while chained to the hospital beds. Many injured Palestinians were also kidnapped and arrested from Palestinian hospitals and ambulances.

Israeli occupation forces have also escalated their use of excessive and lethal force against Palestinians in an apparent policy of extrajudicial executions and killings. During 2015, Israeli occupation forces and Israeli settlers have killed at least 165 Palestinians including 29 children of whom at least 134 were killed since 1 October 2015. The majority of Palestinians killed by Israeli occupation forces and Israeli settlers since 1 October were killed in the context of alleged stabbing attempts knowing that in many of the incidents eye witnesses and footage confirmed the killings took place in a time when suspects no longer paused a threat or did not pause a threat at all. Israeli occupation forces are repeatedly using lethal force against Palestinians as a first resort while ignoring arrest procedures and giving warnings. International law limits the use of lethal force to cases where suspects pose a serious threat, otherwise the killing would classify as extrajudicial execution and a blatant violation of the right to life as enshrined under human rights law and a grave breach to the Fourth Geneva Convention that constitutes a war crime under the Rome Statute.

Israeli occupation forces and authorities have also escalated policies of collective punishment against Palestinians in the past few months. Among the most severe collective punishment policies Addameer has monitored was the policy of demolishing the houses of Palestinians accused of attempting attacks against Israelis and Israeli forces as well as holding the bodies of Palestinians shot by Israeli occupation forces in the context of alleged stabbing and other attacks. Israeli occupation authorities decided during October the bodies of alleged perpetrators under the claim that this policy would decrease tension and deter further attacks. Addameer has been working in the past few months in partnership with several Palestinian organizations on demanding the return of the bodies. Today, Israeli occupation continues to hold the bodies of 47 Palestinians including 7 children killed by Israeli occupation forces since 1 October. In the few cases where Israeli occupation forces returned the bodies it was under extreme humiliating condition. Israeli occupation forces also targeted the families of martyrs with arrests and repeated raids on their houses.

Addameer condemns the continued withholding of the bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli occupation forces and holds it to be an immoral policy of collective punishment that violates all ethical values, customs and laws. Holding the bodies also prevents holding impartial investigations into the killings and holding autopsies to identify the circumstances of the killings. Addameer and Adalah have continuously demanded opening investigations into the recent killings and demanded conducting autopsies in some of the cases. All the requests for conducting autopsies were rejected by Israeli authorities and courts and all the requests to open investigations have not been responded to. Addameer confirms that the Israeli occupation’s policies and practices are the main cause of the recent events in the occupied territory and that the recent policies of collective punishment and new discriminatory laws and practices will only lead to further escalation.