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Israel to transfer detainees from Gaza to military detention centres in West Bank

June 5, 2024 at 2:49 pm

Palestinian prisoners were brought to Abu Youssef Al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah in south of Gaza as a result of the torture inflicted upon them during detention by Israeli forces in inhumane conditions [Firas Al-Shaer]

Israel is moving Palestinians it has captured and disappeared from Gaza from a military detention centre in the Negev to military-run prisons in the occupied West Bank, officials said today.

State attorneys told the Supreme Court that inmates held at the Sde Teiman site, which was opened after 7 October, would be gradually transported to permanent holding facilities. This comes after a CNN report found Palestinians had been tortured, including “surgeries performed without anaesthesia, holding detainees in painful positions for days and handcuffing that leads to amputation, blindfolding for long periods, even when providing medical treatment and while [detainees were] defecating, holding detainees in diapers, beatings, and abuse.”

The transfers have started and most prisoners would be relocated within a couple of weeks. This would allow conditions to improve, in the meantime, they said.

State attorney, Aner Helman, responding to a petition filed by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, told the court that 700 inmates had already been moved to Ofer Prison. Another 500 were slated to be transferred in the coming weeks, leaving 200 at Sde Teiman, whose future was yet to be decided.

Israeli occupation forces have detained more than 5,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip since October, according to the Government Media Office. This brings close to 10,000 the number of Palestinians held in military detention by Israel.

It is not clear how Israel’s already overcrowded prisons will cope with the new arrivals.

In March, Shin Bet and the occupation army released dozens of Palestinian detainees from Ofer Prison suddenly and without prior notification, “following an assessment of the situation by various security agencies,” according to a joint statement issued by them.

The statement explained that this step was due to “the lack of space inside the prisons” and that the detention period for these detainees was set to end next month. Therefore, this step “provides space for detainees who pose a greater threat.”

A month later, Israel approved a proposal to build about 936 additional prison places to hold Palestinian prisoners.

Far-right National Security Minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, has however said applying the death penalty to Palestinian detainees who are “terrorists” is the “right” solution to tackle the problem of prison overcrowding.

READ: Israel has killed 15,000 children in Gaza since October