X. IDF response to the PHRMG
26 January, 1999
Dear Mr. Bassem
Security Prisoners’ Strike
request dated 10 January 1999, following is our response:
prisoners held by the IDF in Israeli prisons and detention centres are as
held in the Megiddo, Erez, Yehuda, Etzion, Binyamin Shomron and Mensahe
The situation of
the Palestinian Prisoners
in the detention
centres of the IDF are accurate as of 21 January, 1999.
waiting for Trial 354
period of Administrative Detention:
Not renewed: 60
First Renewal 5
Third Renewal 1
Fourth renewal 0
Fifth renewal 1
December, 3 prisoners went on a hunger strike in Meggido Prison. Regarding
the issue of firing that you asked about (on the disturbances which took
place on 11/12/98), the army police began investigating the circumstances
of the firing. When the investigation is terminated, the results would be
passed to the Military Attorney General, so as to make his decision.
Head of IDF
Fax: 07-284 7158
Questions and inquiries regarding the case of prisoners and the recent
Human Rights Monitoring Group (PHRMG) is working on a report regarding the
recent strike of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. In the report, we
are going to include a general background on the legal status of the
prisoners, but we need you to provide us with the missing information. We
also have undocumented information that requires your confirmation or
What was the aim
behind the recent hunger strike?
Did the strike
succeed in achieving its goals? Whether your reply is negative or
positive, what were the reasons?
sources of information, we discovered that prior to the release of the 250
prisoners in November 1998, a meeting was held between the Israeli
Minister Ariel Sharon, yourself, PLC member Fares Qadurah, and Secretary
of State Abu Mazen. The list of names that was presented was refused by
the Palestinians in the beginning, and PLC member Fares resigned, and you
followed him. Abu Mazen remained and the list was approved. Is this true?
If it is not, what has really happened with regards to the list? What date
did the meeting take place? What is your opinion with regards to this
meeting and its results?
meeting between the three parties (Arafat, Netanyahu, and Clinton) was
held, President Clinton said that an “unofficial” committee would be
created to solve the case of prisoners. Was this committee ever created?
Who are its members? Did the members meet? Is there a red light for the
issues that need to be solved?
As the Minister
of Detainees Affairs, how do you proceed in solving the case of prisoners
in Israeli jails?
According to the
Geneva Conventions, in the final negotiations Israel should release all
Palestinian prisoners regardless of their charges and the length of their
sentence. Will such a negotiation occur with Israel at that point? Can you
Do you have any
statistics on the number of prisoners released following the Oslo Accords?
Cairo Accords? And the Taba Accords? Were there any prisoners whose “hands
are drained in blood,” according to the Israeli expression? Were those who
were murdered collaborators or Israelis? What is the period remaining for
them to complete their sentence?
How are the
prison conditions? Do the detainees face problems with regards to family
visits, toilets, food, hygiene, hot water, etc? Do you have any
testimonies or details with regards to this issue?
Thanking you in
Office of the
the replies to your questions:
Wye River Accords, detainees had hoped that there was still a chance that
they would be released. When Israel started executing the decision on the
case of prisoners and began releasing prisoners of conscience, and those
who had little time left to complete their sentences this led to a state
of depression among the prisoners. They were angered with the Palestinian
negotiator who did not sign a clear and concise written agreement with
Israel. The prisoners expressed their anger and depression and they went
on a hunger strike prior to Clinton’s visit to the area. They thought that
it would be ideal to raise their issue at the local and international
managed to achieve some of its goals, while it failed to achieve others.
It raised the
issue of prisoners as a national and international priority.
It renewed the
importance of “negative” struggle behind bars.
failed to change the official Israeli position in the long run because of
the break in the session of the Israeli Kinesset and because the Israeli
government froze the execution of this agreement.
The meeting you
are talking about was held on 17/11/98. Abu Mazen, Muhammad Dahlan, and
myself attended it. There was no discussion of names at all, but there was
a discussion of principles that were not agreed upon because the
Palestinians and Israeli could not come to a consensus. The meeting did
not achieve anything. Kahalani had to go back and readdress the issue to
the Israelis. On 19/11/98, I was informed, without holding a committee
meeting, that the Israelis did not change their mind. In turn, I expressed
our refusal of the Israeli position. This was on the morning of 19/11/98.
On 20/11/98, Israel released 250 prisoners. On 20/11/98, during a meeting
for the Committee of Palestinian Ministers in Hebron, this conduct was
I do not know
anything about such a committee.
would be through negotiation with Israel and through a written, clear and
concise agreement that includes the numbers, descriptions, and dates
accurately. I believe that the case of prisoners needs to be completely
finished, and this file needs to be closed during the final negotiations
simply because a peace treaty between Israel and Palestine cannot take
place when there is a single Palestinian or Arab prisoner in Israeli
The answer is
clear in question 5.
When the Oslo
Accords were signed, there were 11,500 prisoners in Israeli jails. During
the Cairo Accords, it was agreed that 5000 prisoners would be released.
During the Taba Agreement, it was agreed that the following prisoners be
a. Women b. The
sick c. Young d. Old e. Those who completed 2/3 of their sentence f. Those
who served over 10 years
were carried out in two stages. The first immediately following the
signing, and the second before the PLC elections.
The number of
those released was over 5000. From the prisoners who were in Israeli jails
prior to 13/9/93, only 1000 remain. In other words, 10500 prisoners were
released. Among those released were two prisoners who had lifetime
sentences, and some who were involved in killing Arab collaborators. Those
who were involved in killing Israelis, on the other hand, were not
problems that prisoners face in Israeli jails:
wives, fathers, brothers, and sons of detainees are deprived from visiting
detainees for security reasons that are rather unacceptable.
relatives are allowed visits.
Those held in
solitary confinements are in Jewish criminals’ headquarters.
suffering from short-term illnesses are never released.
policy on not allowing prisoners to socialise among themselves.
Newspaper: “Face the Media” program in Gaza. 23/11/98
Detainees’ Affairs, Hisham Abdul Razeq, in his response to questions put
to him by the PHRMG.
The PHRMG was
unable to determine whether there had been an undeclared written agreement
at Wye, which might have included the case of prisoners, or whether there
had been an oral agreement.
Detainees’ Affairs, Hisham Abdul Razeq.
Prisoners affairs Hisham Abdul Razeq in his response to the PHRMG
Newspaper: “Prisoners in Israeli Jails..the Forgotten File.” 5/12/98
In the opinion
of the Director of the Prisoners Society Issa Qaraqe’e, taken from an
interview conducted by the PHRMG.
Newspaper: “Releasing them all is a main condition for Peace and
Newspaper: “Tarawnah in Gaza.” 3/12/98
Ha’aretz Newspaper 16/12/98
Newspaper: “News on the flexibility in the measures of releasing
Razeq in his response to the PHRMG.
partial or near-total control over so-called B and C areas, a control
which it shares (B) and which it is negotiating (C) with the PNA. Areas A
are defined as Palestinian self-controlled areas.
alternative view on the notion of Palestinians having “blood on their
The term PA is
used to make reference to whatever authority will be in control of the
Palestinian territories at the time of the final Peace Accords
partial or near-total control over so-called B and C areas, a control
which it shares (B) and which it is negotiating (C) with the PNA. Area A
is defined as Palestinian self-controlled areas.
Newspaper: “Weizman decreases the sentence of Israelis involved in killing
Magazine, issue number 55. 22/1/94
Newspaper: “Prisoners in Israeli Jails..The Forgotten File.” 5/12/98, Page
Same article in
Newspaper: “Prisoners in Israeli jails..the forgotten file.” 21/1/99
Newspaper: 14/12/98, Page 1: “Confrontations in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and
by PHRMG Director Bassem Eid on 16/12/98.
B’tselem: Predicted death: Releasing rubber bullets to disperse
demonstrations in the Occupied Territories.
Newspaper: “new type of bullets used by Israeli forces.” 10/12/98
told the PHRMG that Jihad took part in throwing stones at the Israeli
by PHRMG Director Bassem Eid
implements” such as blocks, clubs, bottles, steel rods.
issue of firing that you asked about (on the disturbances which took place
on 11/12/98), the army police began investigating the circumstances of the
firing. When the investigation is terminated, the results would be passed
to the Military Attorney-General, so as to make his decision.” (response
from the IDF to the PHRMG letter)
for Amnesty International: “Safety for Palestinians.” 18/2/98
Residents of the Area of Yehuda, Shomron and Gaza Strip were imprisoned
for hostile terror activities. (Not including Criminal activities.)