As Palestinians celebrate the occasion of Mothers’ Day, 21 Palestinian mothers held in Israeli prisons and detention centers are unable to see their families. Those 21 women are mothers of 87 sons and daughters who are all spending this mother’s day without mothers. Palestinian mothers are often denied their right to a fair trial, family visits, and kept for several days or months under interrogation where they are subjected to torture and ill-treatment. The methods of torture and ill-treatment used against Palestinian mothers inside Israeli prisons cause severe physical and mental suffering. Interrogation methods include prolonged isolation from the outside world, inhumane detention conditions, excessive use of blindfolds and handcuffs, sleep deprivation, denial of food and water for extended periods of time, denial of proper medical treatment, denial of access to toilets, denial of access to showers or change of clothes for days or weeks, being forced into stress positions, yelling, insults and cursing, and sexual harassment.
Case Studies/ Interrogation:
J. M. is a mother of four children, she was arrested from her house in 2014 and is still in detention. She told Addameer’s attorney about her experience:
“I was strip-searched for the second time when I arrived the interrogation center, during the search my eyes were folded. The female soldier kept me naked for a period of time then she gave me my clothes piece by piece. During the interrogation, the soldiers kept sexually harassing me and humiliating me.”
H. M. was arrested from her house in 2016, and her husband is also detained. She is a mother of three children the oldest at that time was 14-years-old. H. M. describes to Addameer’s attorney the most horrific moment during interrogation:
“The moment I got really terrified was when they started threatening me with my oldest child. The interrogators kept telling me that they will arrest him if I don’t sign the confession in front of me and also written in Hebrew.”
Palestinian women are held in HaShron and Damon prisons inside Israel, and currently, there is one mother held in al-Ramleh prison. This means that they are all illegally transferred from the occupied West Bank and Gaza into Israel. The illegal transfer of prisoners amounts to a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states that “persons accused of offenses shall be detained in the occupied country.” It also amounts to the deportation of protected persons which, under article 49 of the same convention, is a war crime. There are further implications resulting from this crime, such as the difficulties children face in order to visit their mothers. Children, just like all Palestinians who wish to visit their detained relatives, face a long and arduous process. It includes applying for a permit, long hours of traveling, being searched and finally having to see one's mother from behind a glass. Actually, those 21 imprisoned women are mothers of 87 sons and daughters and most of them are children.
Furthermore, mothers under international humanitarian law are provided with special protection. This protection is ensured by several articles in the Fourth Geneva convention, for example, article 89 mentions special and extra services need to be provided to mothers and pregnant women in occupied territories. Other articles place a special attention to the age of children. As such, article 50 of the same convention states that this special attention should be given to mothers of children under the age of 7. Furthermore, in cases of detained mothers, article 76 (2) from Additional Protocol 1 of the Geneva Conventions states that those mothers should have their cases considered with the highest priority.
Mothers with Detained Sons and Daughters:
Currently, there are 6119 Palestinian prisoners in detention, this number includes around 350 children imprisoned. Most of those prisoners are illegally deported from the occupied territory into the territory of the occupied. This number also means that there are around 6000 Palestinian mothers deprived of their children. Those mothers suffer to visit their detained sons and daughters and many of them are panned from visiting under the ‘security threat’ argument. Even when mothers receive permits that allow them to visit they face a long and difficult process. Not so long ago in December 2017, a bus from Gaza with Palestinian families heading to visit their imprisoned relatives was stopped by a group led by an Israeli Knesset member. Those families were harassed and humiliated especially mothers who were verbally threatened with their detained sons and daughter.
Name of Palestinian mothers currently held in Israeli prisons and detention center:
1- Yasmeen Sha’ban, sentenced to five years and a mother of four children.
2- Israa’ Ja’abees, sentenced to 11 years and a mother of one child.
3- Helweh Hamamreh, sentenced to six years and a mother of one child.
4- Nisreen Hassan, waiting for a trial and a mother of seven children.
5- Ablah al-Adam, sentenced to three years and a mother of nine children.
6- Sabreen Zbeydat, sentenced to 50 months and a mother of three children.
7- Amani Hasheem, waiting for a trail and a mother of two children.
8- Ghadeer al-Atrash, waiting for a trail and a mother of three children.
9- Jihan Hashmeh, waiting for a trail and a mother of three children.
10- Sameha Abu Remyleh, waiting for a trail and a mother of four children.
11- Ibtesam Eid, waiting for a trail and a mother of seven children.
12- Khalida Jarrar, administrative detainee and a mother of two children.
13- Nariman Tamimi, waiting for a trail and a mother of two children.
14- Hanan al-Akhdar, sentenced to nine months and a mother of five children.
15- Fadwa Hamadeh, waiting for a trail and a mother of five children.
16- Khadija al-Rabe’I, administrative detainee and a mother of six children.
17- Amal Sa’ed, waiting for a trail and a mother of six children.
18- Abeer Abu Khdair, sentenced to two months and a mother of five children.
19- Hiba Jajeh, waiting for a trail and a mother of two children.
20- Asiya Ka’abneh, waiting for a trail and a mother of eight children.
21- Niveen Shalaldeh, waiting for a trail and a mother of two children.