Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike details mistreatment by Israeli soldiers

Heba Al Labadi, 24, was detained in August while trying to attend a family wedding in the occupied West Bank

An Israeli soldier stands guard during a demonstration in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails at Israel's Ofer Prison in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on October 5, 2019.  / AFP / ABBAS MOMANI
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Palestinians are taking to social media to condemn the Israeli detention of a 24-year-old Palestinian woman who has been on hunger strike for more than two weeks.

Heba Al Labadi, a Palestinian-Jordanian dual national, was arrested in August at the Israeli-controlled border crossing between Jordan and the occupied West Bank. She was to attend a wedding in the occupied territory with her mother.

She has now detailed the conditions of her detention after a visit from her lawyer, who revealed her plight to Palestinian NGO Addameer, which represents the cases of Palestinian prisoners.

“After Hiba announced her hunger strike, she was transferred to isolation in Jalameh Prison, where she reports being abused and harassed by the prison guards attempting to make her end her hunger strike,” Adameer reported, recounting Ms Al Labadi’s statements to her lawyer.

“Hiba’s isolation cell is filthy and has surveillance cameras,” Addameer said, adding that the cell has no windows, and is fitted instead with an air conditioning unit “meant to keep the cell cold.”

“There is nothing in the isolation cell except for one dirty sheet. Hiba is not allowed any yard time,” the group added.

She has not showered since being transferred to the prison as the wash area there is “completely exposed”.

Israel is alleging that she met with individuals affiliated with Hezbollah while she visited her sister in Beirut. Her lawyer said she had only met with an announcer at a Hezbollah-owned radio station.

According to her lawyer, she was denied any visits for 25 days after her arrest and was only transferred from interrogation to prison after 32 days, Mondoweiss, a news site on the conflict, reported.

She said that her interrogators accused her of being an extremist, proceeding to insult both Islam and Christianity.

They told her that her mother and sister had been arrested, proceeding to warn her that they would put her “under renewable administrative detention for seven and a half years”.

Administrative detention is a tactic used by Israel to incarcerate Palestinians without trial or charge, based on allegations that they might commit a future offence – it is a British colonial judiciary hangover adopted by the Israeli authorities.

Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem said 491 Palestinians, including two women and two minors, were being held in administrative detention at the end of January 2019.

There has been little international pressure on the Israeli government over such detentions, even when it involves Palestinian polticians, such as Khalida Jarrar, who was held for almost two years without charge.