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Relatives of Palestinian prisoners stage protest against strip searches

February 20, 2014 at 3:30 pm


Relatives of Palestinian prisoners from the Tulkarem area have held a sit-in protest against what they call “humiliation and abuse” from Israeli soldiers, including strip searches. The group have called on the International Committee of the Red Cross to intervene immediately to bring an end to the arbitrary procedures they are subjected to by Israeli soldiers at the Taibeh roadblock. A letter to that effect was submitted at the protest held on 26th October.

It is alleged that soldiers at the check point submit individuals to humiliating procedures, including strip searches where women of various ages are forced to remove their clothes under the pretext of an inspection; they are then detained in rooms without ventilation for long periods. Such practices have a serious effect on the health of older women, particularly those who are already ill.

Hatem al-Jayussi is an inmate at the desert prison of Nafha currently serving six life sentences plus 55 years; his mother described her journey to visit her son last Sunday as “agonising”. First, she had to deal with the arbitrary procedures of the Taibeh check point soldiers, then the similarly inhumane practices of the Israeli prison guards at Nafha where the mothers of prisoners are again forced to remove their garments, and again under the pretext of an inspection by a machine. Female soldiers remove the head coverings of the Palestinian women and search them. Al-Jayussi’s mother regards such procedures to be without justification; their only purpose, she believes, is the humiliation of prisoners and their families in order to break their resolve.

The mother of another two prisoners, Fadi and Shadi Matar, who are both serving 24 years in Raymond prison, said that after the procedures at the Taibeh crossing, the Israeli authorities make them walk long distances to reach the buses which have to park quite a distance from the crossing. This aggravates the already difficult situation of the prisoners’ families. She said that she suffers from diabetes, blood pressure and heart problems which means that she has to take frequent rests on the floor in areas without seats or outside in the shade of trees.