Monday, October 22, 2007
Palestinian prisoners sit inside the remains of a burnt tent in Ketziot prison
From Khalid Amayreh in Occupied East Jerusalem
"Crack Israeli soldiers on Monday ganged up on hundreds of helpless Palestinian detainees, beating them with plastic clubs and rifle butts, and showering them with rubber-coated bullets and tear-gas grenades, causing several critical injuries among the detainees.
The “Gestapo-like assault,” using the words of one of the detainees, occurred early Monday at the notorious Kitziot detention camp in the heart of the Negev desert where 2300 Palestinian political prisoners are detained in extremely harsh conditions.
Many of the detainees are held without charge or trial, mainly as a punishment for their political opposition to the Israeli occupation and its apartheid regime in the occupied territories.
According to Abu Muhammed, a detainee at the camp, hundreds of Israeli soldiers from the Nachshon unit, which is specialized in repressing prisoners, stormed the detention wards and assaulted the sleeping detainees, using plastic clubs, live ammunition, tear-gas and stun grenades, causing various bodily injuries to as many as 52 detainees.
At least 9 prisoners sustained serious injuries, with one detainee, identified as Muhammed Sati al Ashqar, being in serious conditions. According to Abu Muhammed, the more seriously injured were transferred to the Soroka Hospital in Beer Sheva. No word has been reported on their conditions.
Following the brutal assault, as many as 1200 detainees were hand-cuffed and leg-fettered without any explanation. Another detainee said detainees lost their belongings and cloths and tents which were gutted by fire started as a result of the explosions of stun grenades.
In a terse statement, the Israeli Prison Authority said the brutal repression of the detainees was in reaction to the prisoners’ refusal to allow prison guards to carry out a midnight raid during which the detainees are subjected to humiliating frisking and stripping of clothes.
Palestinian officials in Gaza and the West Bank called on the international community to condemn the “Israel’s Nazi practices against our prisoners,” carried out in violation of the most basic human values and international norms.
According to Isam Bakr, Secretary of the Supreme Council for the Defense of Palestinian Prisoners in Israeli jails, at least one detainee was a in a life-threatening situation. “He was subjected to brutal beating and he is likely to be in a life-threatening condition.” Bakr said the brutal assault on prisoners was indiscriminate and targeted prisoners from all political orientations, including Fatah and Hamas.
Bakr said protests would be organized tomorrow (Tuesday) in Ramallah and other parts of the occupied territories against the “criminal assault on our prisoners and detainees.”
Note: There has been a report that Muhammed Sati Ashgar is clinically dead, due to a severe brain hemorrhage resulting from beating on the head. "