Israel has turned all of occupied Palestine into an open air prison, says UN expert’s report

A report by UN Special Rapporteur Francesca Albanese says that apart from physically arresting over 800,000 Palestinians, including tens of thousands of children, Israel also controls the movement of millions through barriers, permits, and illegal settlements

July 11, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
Francesca Albanese report
UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Palestinian territories Francesca Albanese.

Calling the Israeli occupation a “carceral regime,” the UN Special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Palestinian territories, Francesca Albanese, in a report to the UN Human Rights Council on Monday, July 10, asked the international community to take urgent measures to “abolish the unlawful occupation.”

Albanese said that Israel has been using the Palestinian territories as an “open air prison” through a combination of direct incarceration and also by “hunting them [Palestinians] outside prison.” 

“Blockades, walls, segregated infrastructures, checkpoints, settlements encircling Palestinian towns and villages, hundreds of bureaucratic permits and a web of digital surveillance, further entrap Palestinians in a carceral continuum across strictly controlled enclaves,” Albanese said.  

Albanese’s report notes that Israel has arrested more than 800,000 Palestinians, including tens of thousands of children, since its occupation of Palestinian territories in 1967, and continues to defy all international norms to pursue its criminal regime. 

Occupation’s inherent apartheid

For Albanese, by “bundling Palestinians as a collective ‘security threat’ Israel has used draconian military orders to punish the exercise of basic rights. These measures have been used as tools to subjugate an entire population, depriving them of self-determination, enforcing racial domination and advancing territorial acquisition by force.”

“The widespread and systematic arbitrariness of occupation’s carceral regime is yet another expression of the apartheid imposed on the Palestinians and strengthens the need to end it immediately.” 

Underlining that for “over 56 years, Israel has governed the Palestinian territory through stifling criminalization of basic rights and mass incarcerations,” and now attempts “de-Palestinization” of these areas so that it can “incrementally annex” them, Albanese asked the world community to stop these practices and help Palestinians to achieve their right to self determination.  

Albanese has been targeted by Israel over her critical stand on its settler colonialism project and apartheid regime. Israel boycotted the presentation of her report on Monday. 

The state of Palestine, however, supported Albanese’s conclusions and asked the international community to follow the report’s recommendations. 

Arresting and torturing Palestinian Children 

The report notes that Israeli occupation authorities arrested around 7,000 Palestinians in 2022 alone, including 882 children. Out of around 5,000 Palestinians inside Israeli jails now, around 155 are children. There are 1,014 Palestinians who have been in prison for months without being charged or tried. 

The report also notes that “approximately 10,000 Palestinian children have experienced institutionalized ill-treatment during arrests, prosecutions, and sentencing and the consequent traumas on themselves and their families.” 

“Arrest involves transferring children to interrogation facilities like dangerous criminals, blindfolded and hand tied in military jeeps,” the report says.

“During interrogation, Palestinian children endure severe ill-treatment: they are strip searched, kept blind-folded and tightly bound for long hours, insulted and ridiculed, physically abused and denied basic needs including access to toilets and medical care.” 

The report also notes that nearly half of the children detained for interrogation by Israel in 2021-22 were subjected to solitary confinement, for an average of 12.5 days in windowless cells constantly illuminated causing immense physical and psychological distress.

According to some studies, the number of Palestinian children arrested by the Israeli occupation since 1967 goes beyond 50,000. 

Albanese’s findings about the treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli custody have been substantiated by a recent study published by Save the Children. According to the research, four out of every five children in Israeli jails are beaten by the prison authorities and at least 69% are strip searched.