Silwan, occupied East Jerusalem – Israel continues to carry out a wave of arrests of Palestinians, including children, in an effort to crush Palestinian resistance and political opposition to the occupation.
In May 2021, at least 3,100 Palestinians in the West Bank, Jerusalem and the occupied territory in 1948 were arrested during the raid and organized Israeli arrest campaigns, reported the association of Palestinian prisoners Addameer in its report for the month.
Most of those arrest, 2,000, took place on the border of the internationally recognized Israeli Green Line following mass protests against Israeli incursions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the eviction of Palestinian residents from their homes in East Jerusalem, and encounters with Israeli settlers and forces.
“Similarly, in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, an arbitrary arrest campaign has led to more than 1,100 arrests, including 180 children, and 42 women and men. The highest of these arrests was made in Jerusalem, with 677. arrests, ”Addameer said.
In early May, 60 Palestinian prisoners, activists and released politicians were targeted with 25 of those arrested transferred to administrative detention, or detention without trial.
Kaed Rajabi, 43, of Silwan in East Jerusalem, was one of those arrested and later released several weeks ago after a week in Jerusalem’s famous Moskobiya prison in West Jerusalem.
Israeli prisons have become a second home for Rajabi, a married father of eight children whose life has involved a revolving door of various Israeli prisons since the age of 14.
His prison conditions have been for years, months, and sometimes just days and he has experienced life in prison in several Israeli detention facilities, including the prisons of Nafha, Gilboa, Shatta and Hasharon.
He estimated that he spent a total of at least eight years in Israeli prison because of his anti-occupation activities.
“My first arrest in 1992 was when I was 14 years old when I was sent to prison for five years for throwing Molotov cocktails and stones at Israeli settlers and organizing demonstrations,” Rajabi told Al Jazeera.
“I was interrogated for 70 days straight in a chair with my hands tied behind the back of my chair and my ankles tied to the legs of the chair. I was repeatedly punched, kicked and hit with bats during interrogation hours every day with some of the assaults that made me bleed.
“Toilet breaks were limited and only when I was given food did my hands get wet, resulting in pain in my back and legs,” Rajabi said.
Lights left on
He said raids in prisoners’ cells by officers in search of mobile phones and other contraband were regular and involved beatings, tear gas and police dogs.
Twelve prisoners sharing bunk beds were tamed in each cell with the lights left on throughout the night.
“The food was also bad, with no fruits or vegetables, old eggs, a piece of chicken or meat and a lot of bread,” Rajabi recalled.
Subsequent arrests over the years generally involved more than a dozen Israeli police officers, detectives, and Shabak – or Israeli national intelligence agents – raiding his home in the early hours, locking up his wife, mother and children. in one of the small family houses, narrow rooms and then severely beaten.
His most recent arrest was made when he and other Silwan residents gathered in support a race of protest through the neighborhood, protesting against the demolition of Palestinian homes and the exit of residents to make way for Israeli settlers.
It is unlikely to be his last arrest because his brother’s and brother’s families are at loggerheads. forced eviction from their homes to make way for Israeli settlers.
“Our neighbors have already been evicted and we have settlers living next door.” But I was born here, this is my home and we will never leave despite an offer of payment from the settlers, ”Rajabi said.
The brutal treatment Rajabi experienced during his arrest and interrogation was unparalleled for the course and nothing out of the ordinary, critics say.
“Forms of torture and ill-treatment employed against Palestinian prisoners include beatings, tying up prisoners in ‘stressful positions’, interrogation sessions lasting up to 12 consecutive hours, depriving prisoners of sleep and other sensory deprivations,” isolation and isolation, and threats to the lives of their parents, ”Addameer said.
“In past cases, detainees died while in custody as a result of torture.”
The rights organization said Israel has defended its interrogation techniques as a legitimate way to “fight terrorism” confronted by its citizens, but in reality, “these practices are in direct contravention. of international law, such as the United Nations Convention against Torture (CAT), ratified by Israel in 1991, which requires each party state to prevent the use of torture and associated practices. ” .
Atef Mirei, 37, of Beita, near Nablus, is still accustomed to the taste of freedom after 16 years in several Israeli prisons.
Newly married, she runs a supermarket and eagerly awaits her family. He was released from prison 10 months ago.
Mirei was arrested in 2004 during the second Palestinian Intifada, or insurrection, after he shot and wounded Israeli settlers when he was a member of the Palestinian resistance.
During the night 10 military vehicles with about 40 soldiers and intelligence agents stormed his house and used explosives to blow up the front door after initially surrounding his house.
“When I was arrested they also arrested my brother and my father who were 82 at the time,” Mirei told Al Jazeera. His brother and father were subsequently released a few days later.
“On the way to the Huwarra military base I was hit by soldiers with their rifles.”
The resilient elder was questioned for 90 days by Shabak when he was tied up in a stressful position in a chair.
“The interrogations lasted more than six hours each day and I was allowed to use the bathrooms only after the interrogation for the day,” Mirei said.
Like Rajabi, Mirei said the food was bad and eight prisoners were crushed in a cell, sleeping on bunk beds, with regular raids on the cells by prison guards.
“I dreamed of being able to be back with my family and enjoy delicious homemade Palestinian dishes,” Mirei said.
“Sometimes my situation has become depressing and I feel sad for my life but I knew that as a Palestinian I had no choice but to fight for my people.”
Smiling, she recalled the emotional experiences in the days after her first release.
“It was wonderful to see my family again and to see all the changes that have taken place in Beita over the last 16 years. There were so many new families and neighborhood children to know that they weren’t born when I was arrested. ”
‘Worried about the future’
However, his smile faded as he recalled the bitter memories of the youth he had been robbed of and the dark experiences of the prison.
“I hope that there will be peace now, but with the current situation in the West Bank, I am worried about the future,” – before adding he had no regrets about the fight for his homeland.
Addameer estimates from the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory in 1967, more than 800,000 Palestinians were imprisoned under the Israeli military order in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (oPt).
“This number constitutes about 20 percent of the total Palestinian population in the PT and as much as 40 percent of the total Palestinian male population,” Addameer said.
“It also includes about 10,000 women imprisoned since 1967, and 8,000 Palestinian children arrested since 2000.”