Israel re-captures last two escapees of Gilboa prison; Palestinians continue solidarity protests

Palestinians are opposing the Israeli administrative detention policy under which prisoners are kept behind bars for long durations without charge or trial. They are also protesting the recent punitive measures imposed after six prisoners escaped Gilboa prison

September 20, 2021 by Peoples Dispatch
Photo: The Palestine Information Center

Hundreds of Gazans took to the streets on Sunday, September 19, in support of Palestinian prisoners and their families after Israel claimed that the last two of the six prisoners who escaped from Gilboa surrendered at Jenin. Similar protests were also held in Haifa near Jalama prison. 

Israeli police claimed that the two prisoners, Ayham Kamamji and Munadil Naf’at, surrendered early morning on Sunday. Six Palestinian prisoners escaped from the high-security Gilboa jail in Israel on September 6. Four were re-arrested Friday and Saturday last week. 

On Sunday, an Israeli court extended their detention by another 10 days to let the prison authorities continue their interrogation. Zakaria Zubeidi, one of the escapees, was allegedly tortured during the interrogation and admitted to hospital as a result.     

The protesters in Gaza and Haifa carried banners and chanted slogans calling for the release of all Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails. They demonstrated against the policy of administrative detention, which allows Israel to keep Palestinians in prisons for long periods without charge or trial. 

Meanwhile, at least six Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails are on a hunger strike opposing their lengthy incarceration. One of them, Kayed Fasfous, has been on a hunger strike for the last 67 days. His family has expressed concerns over his deteriorating health. Other prisoners on hunger strike are Muqdad Qawasmeh (for 60 days), Alaa Aaraj (for 42 days), Hesham Abu Hawwash (for 34 days), Rayeq Besharat (for 29 days), and Shadi Abu Akr (for 26 days), Wafa News Agency reported. 

According to the Palestinian prisoners’ society, there are around 4,650 Palestinians inside Israeli jails, of whom 40 are women and 200 are children. Of them, at least 520 Palestinians are under administrative detention. 

Following the escape of the six men from Gilboa, prison authorities imposed various punitive measures on the rest of the prisoners. They carried out a massive search across the occupied Palestinian territories, arresting family members and friends of the escapes in the process. Palestinian human rights groups have called such arrests a form of collective punishment. The Palestinian prisoners too opposed the move and threatened to go on mass hunger strike last week, after which the Israeli prison authorities agreed to lift the measures. 

On Monday, September 20, however, some of the prisoners in Ofer jail claimed that the punitive measures were still in place. According to the Palestinian Information Center, at least 100 prisoners are on an indefinite hunger strike from Tuesday against the re-introduction of the punitive measures.