UFree press release – A 20-year-old Palestinian woman, Bushra Al-Tawil, was abducted in the middle of the night on 1st of July from her home in the West Bank village of Al-Bireh — signaling an expansion of the Israeli campaign of mass arrests beyond males.
Al-Tawil is one of more than 50 Palestinians who had been previously jailed by Israel as political prisoners to be re-arrested without charge in Israel’s current campaign of mass detentions. Israeli occupation authorities say the more than 600 arrests since 12th June, which have led to 12 Palestinian being killed so far, were consequences of its investigation of the kidnapping and murder of three Israelis living in an illegal, Jewish-only settlement. However, the lack of evidence and the increasingly indiscriminate nature of the arrests suggest that the Israeli government is using the tragedy to pursue a broader agenda of retaliation and incitement.
Al-Tawil was first seized when she was just 17, in a dawn raid on her home in July 2011. A journalist and advocate for prisoners’ rights, she was held for five months in “administrative detention,” a procedure that allows the Israeli military to hold individuals indefinitely based on secret information without charging them or allowing them to stand trial. Al-Tawil was finally released in December 2011, and had continued her journalism studies – until now.
Al-Tawil joins at least 17 other Palestinian women currently held in Israeli jails, primarily the Hasharon and Damon prisons — both of which are located outside occupied territory and thus violate article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Numerous reports have documented that the majority of Palestinian women prisoners are subjected to psychological torture and ill treatment, including beatings, insults, threats, invasive body searches and sexually explicit harassment.
“Israel is exploiting the pre-occupation of the international community with other regional events to worsen the conditions of its occupation of Palestinian territories,” said Mahmoud Lweesi, spokesman for the Yousef Al-Sedeeq Institute for Prisoners’ Protection in “Palestine 48”. “This includes an expansion of the practice of administrative detention, in clear violation of the strict parameters established by international law, for collective and criminal punishment.”
In May, 192 Palestinians were being held in administrative detention, with most participating in a hunger strike for 64 days to protest the practice. However, with the launch of Israel’s campaign of mass arrests, it’s estimated that at least a 200 more Palestinians held as part of the sweep are being placed under the “administrative detention” policy, forcing the hunger strikers to delay their protest until international attention can be re-focused.
“We call upon international human rights and humanitarian institutions to bring pressure to bear on Israel to halt its illegal and racist practices against the Palestinian people, including women like Bushra Al-Tawil,” said Khaled Waleed of UFree Network.
“Continued silence on the part of the international community is tantamount to direct involvement in Israel’s crimes against humanity.” He continues.