A report issued by the Public Defender’s Office at the Israeli Justice Ministry has described the conditions endured by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails as “very harsh”. The issues mentioned by the report include severe overcrowding, which could cause suffocation, facilities which don’t meet even basic standards, excessive punitive measures, a lack of resources and inadequate access to medical care. Access to relatives and lawyers is also a cause for concern for prisoners, it is claimed.
The Ministry’s report is the first of its kind and it was prepared by a number of lawyers. It covered 26 sites (prisons and detention centres) which fall under the responsibility of the Israeli Prison Service, 13 facilities which are the responsibility of the court, and 10 managed by the police.
Sharon Prison was given as an example where 10 Palestinian women prisoners are held and complaints have been made about medical care and the severe punishments inmates receive. The latter includes collective punishment and the use of very tight restraints. Employee shortages, unbearable overcrowding and extremes of temperature in summer and winter were also highlighted by the report, as were prisoners’ complaints about food and a shortage of basic equipment.
One Palestinian woman prisoner, the report claims, suffered from gastrointestinal disease for three weeks and did not see a specialist doctor; she was restrained to her bed for a long period instead, during which time she was not even able to go to the toilet.