Saturday, April 12, 2008

In Prison, Who Knows Why

By Mohammed Omer in Gaza

"GAZA CITY - You would think the baby boy named Yousef has his life ahead of him. But who knows, with a child born to Palestinian parents from Gaza. What's more, Yousef was born in an Israeli prison.

He is the only one of Fatima al-Zeq's nine children who is with her for that reason -- she was arrested nine months ago. But these days the baby is not with her. He developed stomach pain, began to vomit, and has been transferred to a hospital inside Hasharon prison in Israel.

Fatima has written to human rights organisations in Gaza asking for their help in seeing the baby is looked after, something she cannot do herself.

Her other children do not know why mother is in prison; the Israelis haven't told them, and they haven't told Palestinian authorities. And they declined to tell IPS. If anything, the Israelis say the arrests are for "security reasons".

According to a Palestinian source, she was arrested because Israeli authorities suspected she would carry out an attack in Israel. No explosives were found on her. Another source suggests that she was arrested because she is a relative of an Islamic Jihad leader........

There are a total of 10,400 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. These include 90 women and 328 children below the age of 18, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Detainees and Ex-Detainees. Forty-six of the prisoners are members of parliament, mostly affiliated to Hamas.

Israeli human rights groups say that security forces called Shin Bet regularly torture Palestinians in Israeli jails. The two groups B'Tselem and HaMoked: Centre for Defence of Individuals tracked 73 prisoners between July 2005 and July 2006. They reported that Shin Bet routinely uses "beatings, painful binding, back bending, body stretching and prolonged sleep deprivation" to torture Palestinian prisoners."

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