BBC

BBC celebrates with Palestinian prisoners: Reunited, and it feels SO good!


A guest post by Gidon Ben-Zvi, who blogs at Jerusalem State of Mind

The BBC cheerfully announced that dogged defenders of convicted terrorists’ rights were overwhelmed with “indescribable excitement” at the news that Palestinian families from Gaza would be allowed to visit their jailed relatives in Israel for the first time in five years.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), having coordinated the visits, expressed its wish that “…visits by residents of Gaza will [soon] resume in full.”

Beyond the narrative woven of lonesome prisoners being able to see their wives and children after years of separation, there lies a fundamental and uncomfortable truth: while some Palestinians are in jail for relatively minor infractions, others are incarcerated for terrorism-related crimes, including murder.

Israel agreed to the move in May, as part of a deal to end a mass hunger strike by the “newest heroes of the Palestinian cause” –  security prisoners including members of Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups whose entire raison d’etre is to kill Israeli men, women and children in the name of Palestinian liberation.

As part of the deal that was struck, prisoner leaders committed not to engage in militant activity inside jail and to refrain from future hunger strikes.

The BBC’s coverage of this heart wrenching story of fleeting family reunification makes no mention of the murderous acts, mostly against unarmed civilians, that landed many of these Palestinians in Israel’s Ramon prison.

For all its brevity, the BBC news blurb is replete with examples of shoddy research and glaring inaccuracies. Good, credible reportage is based on the conveying of historical context. While the BBC states cryptically that family visits were halted in 2007 “… after the militant Islamist group Hamas came to power in Gaza,” the devil is in the details.

In fact, Israel banned family visits to prisoners from Gaza in 2007, a few months after Gazan terrorists kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, holding him captive until they exchanged him for over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in 2011.

Still, why does Israel have to be so cruel to terror suspects? In some cases, Israel will even hold said freedom fighters in prison without trial for lengthy periods of time – surely an abuse of international human rights, no?

Israel’s strangeness among the family of nations is an unshakable belief that’s taken for fact by many an otherwise reputable international broadcasting organization. Yet it is worth noting that administrative detention – the arrest and detention of individuals by the state without trial, usually for security reasons – is used by a large number of countries including the United States and United Kingdom, which has maintained many forms of administrative detention over the years.

Administrative detention is often used in cases where the available evidence consists of information obtained by the security services and where a trial would reveal sensitive security information, such as the identities of informers or infiltrators.

Apparently, the BBC was under a tight deadline and failed to include in its coverage that the legal basis for Israel’s use of administrative detention is the British Mandate 1945 Law on Authority in States of Emergency.

In recent years, Israel’s prisons have become among the most closely scrutinized in the world, which is one reason why the government has allowed representatives of the Red Cross and other groups to inspect them regularly.

One Palestinian prisoner who was released in the first phase of the Gilad Shalit deal, Samer al-Issawi (a member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine) has spoken in detail about how he was treated during his incarceration in five different Israeli prisons.

According to Issawi, most prisoners are held eight to a cell that is approximately 25 feet by 15 feet. Each cell has its own shower, bathroom, kitchenette and a TV that receives 12 channels, including Israeli channels and several Arabic-language channels, among them Palestinian TV.

Furthermore, prisoners are allowed into a courtyard to exercise for an hour. For two hours each morning and each afternoon, prisoners may leave their cells to visit prisoners in other cell blocks.

On Fridays, Muslim prisoners may pray together in the prison courtyard. A prisoner serves as the imam, or prayer leader.

As for medical care, the prisoners, according to Issawi, have doctors at the prison and, when necessary, are treated at Israeli hospitals.

And since Israel’s treatment of its Palestinian prisoners is such an ongoing topic of fascination for pro-Palestinian human rights groups, where is the international outcry in response to the treatment of Israelis held captive by Palestinians?

Had the BBC spent a bit more time on old-fashioned research and less on a “total identification with the goals and methods of the Palestinian terror groups”, it may have gotten the facts straight.

62 replies »

  1. In fact, Israel banned family visits to prisoners from Gaza in 2007, a few months after Gazan terrorists kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, holding him captive until they exchanged him for over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in 2011.

    I’m immediately reminded of an absolutely preposterous Guardian article claiming that said deal showed that Israel cared 1,000 times less for Palestinian lives and Israelis.

    Hang on … oh, it was by Deborah Orr – who posted that infamous piece using the phrase “chosen people.”

    • Correction: that should of course read: “cared 1,000 times less for Palestinian lives THAN Israelis”

    • Gilad Shalit was released almost one year ago. Why did Israel wait all that time to let prisoners receive family visits from Gaza?

      Forbiding prisoners from having visits is a violation of international law.

      • Allowing enemy aliens into your country to visit prisoners is extraordinary generosity. I wonder who paid for all the security involved.

        • Germolene, Israel VIOLATES INTERNATIONAL LAW by detaining Palestinian prisoners in Israel.

          The Geneva Conventions clearly stipulate that an occupying power cannot transfer prisoners taken in the occupied territory into its own territory.

          Not allowing Palestinian prisoners to receive visits from their families adds another layer of violation of international law.

          • You are breaking my heart Benyamin.
            Maybe quote the relevant article and will consider to give it a sh*t…

            • Peter, you keep mentioning international alw but your ignorance is almost funny, or maybe it’s sad.

              The Fourth Geneva Convention (article 76) prohibits an occupying power from transfering and holding prisoners and detainees outside the occupied territory. Detained persons have the right to remain in occupied territory in all stages of detention, including serving of sentences if convicted.

              • I’m mentioning international law Benyamin? You must be high, drunk or out of your nanosized mind…
                International laws limiting our ability to protect ourselves and making impossible our survival are as relevant as a fart of a papillon in a tornado.
                You and co can stuff all of them into your you know where.

                • Peter, without international law Israel would not exist today. It owes part of its survival to the fact that a UN vote enshrined it as a legitimate state.

      • Attacking Israeli civilians with suicide bombers12000 rockets from Gaza so far murdering innocent children baby’s in they sleep it’s also violation of international law or that is OK by you?Looks like it.

        • Mira, why do you forget to mention that Israeli military operation Cast Lead caused the death of 1,400 Palestinians, half of them civilians, including 300 children?

          So strange… you only mention one side each time, when both Israelis and Palestinians are suffering… a form of strabismus perhabs?

          • Hi Nat. I won’t contest the effect: 1,400 dead Palestinians, including 300 children. The cause, however, is the thing. I would like to draw your attention to the fact that throughout Operation Cast Lead Hamas implemented a combat doctrine which made massive use of civilians as human shields. Some of the terror group’s tactics included forcing civilians to remain in residential areas the IDF was operating in, assimilating terror operatives in civilian neighborhoods, and switching uniforms for civilian clothing while fighting the IDF. In addition there’s evidence to show that Hamas used groups of children in order to cover up its escaping from central battle points, and widely used civilian buildings for military purposes, including the construction of escape and attack tunnels from within residential buildings. Thanks for reading and replying to my essay!

            • Gidon, when you plan airstrikes over densely populated neighbourhoods, you cannot pretend you did not know you were going to kill women and children.

              The Gaza Strip has been one big urban zone ever since the creation of the state of Israel of 1948 forced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to flee their homes, many of whom sought refuge in Gaza.

              • Hundreds of thousands? Not millions?
                Anyway maybe tell your friends not to launch Kassams and Grads from these densely populated areas…

                • Peter, could you please tell the Government of Israel not to bom densely populated areas in order not to kill women and children again? Thanks.

                  • The opposite Benyamin. I tell my government that I expect from them to crush any terrorists launching rockets at me. If your friends do it from populated areas then they are war criminals and are responsible for any unintended casualties.

      • Benyami, just curious. Do you write for Mondoweiss? Perhaps not, but your constant belief in Israel’s guilt, faith in the sage judgment and benevolence of the “international community”, and appalling lack of outrage towards Palestinian terrorists who continually aim to murder Israelis, would certainly suggest sympathy for the radical anti-Zionist left.

        • Mr Levick, could you please tell us why Tsahal has the right to impose a ban on family visits for prisoners despite the fact that it violates humanitarian law?

          I guess it was fair game as long as Shalit was held prisoner in the Gaza Strip, but he was released last year, so why did Tsahal keep forbiding Gazan prisoners from seeing their loved ones?

          I mean, what’s the interest of forbiding mothers from seeing their sons?

          CAm you pease explain?

          • Nat can you please explain why the ICRC Annual Report 2011 paints a different story to your own colourful and twisted version of reality?

            “PEOPLE DEPRIVED OF THEIR FREEDOM
            Detainees held by the Israeli authorities in prisons, interrogation
            centres, provisional detention centres and police stations and
            those held in places of permanent and temporary detention in the
            Gaza Strip and the West Bank received regular visits, conducted
            according to standard ICRC procedures. The detaining authorities
            received confidential feedback and ICRC observations on detainees’
            treatment, living conditions and access to health care during all
            stages of their detention.
            Detainees used ICRC family-links services to communicate with
            their families. Those with specific needs or the particularly vulnerable,
            such as minors and migrants, received some assistance,
            including educational materials, hygiene kits and medical items.
            People held by Israel
            Detainees under interrogation, in administrative detention,
            in prolonged solitary confinement and from the Gaza Strip and
            particularly vulnerable inmates were given special attention.
            The authorities regularly took follow-up action relating to the
            ICRC’s observations. Meetings with the authorities and UNHCR
            served to highlight concerns about the situation of migrants,
            including those irregularly detained in the Sinai, and to promote
            the voluntary repatriation of those released. In some 40 cases,
            ICRC-provided documents facilitated such repatriations.
            Through the ICRC’s family visits programme, around 6,000 detainees
            from the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights
            received 115,000 visits from their relatives, including 27 family members
            transported by ambulance. A review showed that around 80%
            of eligible detainees received regular visits through this programme.
            The others either did not need the ICRC’s help or could not receive
            visits because of permit delays.”

            ICRC Annual Report 2011

            • Guy, seriously… faking it… with spelling mistakes?!

              “This is a first step and we hope that visits by residents of Gaza will resume in full,” said Juan Pedro Schaerer, the head of the ICRC delegation in Israel and the occupied territories. “Wehave repeatedly called for the resumption of family visits, which are a lifeline for detainees and their families. Under international humanitarian law, Israeli authorities have an obligationto allow the detainees to receive family visits.”

              http://www.icrc.org/eng/resources/documents/news-release/2012/israel-palestine-news-2012-07-16.htm

              • Are you claiming that the quote above from the ICRC Annual Report 2011 is a fake?
                If so either prove it or withdraw your allegation.
                If you bother to read it you will find that the quote above is ‘copied and pasted’ directly from the ICRC Annual Report 2011. Any spelling mistakes are their responsibility.
                Now be a good boy go and read it then come back with an apology for your allegation of faking the report.

            • ICRC 2012:

              The Israeli authorities suspended all visits to detainees by residents of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, a measure that affected over 800 detainees.

              “This is a first step and we hope that visits by residents of Gaza will resume in full,” said Juan Pedro Schaerer, the head of the ICRC delegation in Israel and the occupied territories. “Wehave repeatedly called for the resumption of family visits, which are a lifeline for detainees and their families. Under international humanitarian law, Israeli authorities have an obligationto allow the detainees to receive family visits.”

              http://www.icrc.org/eng/resources/documents/news-release/2012/israel-palestine-news-2012-07-16.htm

        • Adam, just curious. In some interviews you introduce yourself as a journalist, however you do not seem to hold a press card. Could you please clarify?

      • Again with this “international law”!

        Which one this time?

        Please provide a source.

      • I have no idea whether Benyamin’s comment about international law is justified, but…

        I am no apologist for terrorists (or any criminals for that matter), and I agree with Adam that Palestinian prisoners are on the whole treated reasonably in Israeli jails, but I do not think a ban on family visits is justified and I am pleased it has been lifted. (Of course Israel is entitled – indeed duty-bound – to place security restrictions on such visits, but to ban them outright? Not for me).

        I also don’t buy the “yes, but look at how terribly Israeli captives are treated by Hamas” argument. Israel should set its own standards, not live in the gutter its opponents do.

        This is not to condone the lack of context in the BBC articles, or to disagree that there seems to be a totally disproportionate focus on Israel’s justice system. In fact, it’s not a comment on media coverage at all, it’s just a statement of my views about family visits.

      • Chapter and verse. What visits are prisoners entitled to under what international law? Specifically, does it specify that families must be permitted in from a hostile political entity at will, or is, say, the Red Cross sufficient? (Not that Hamas let the Red Cross see Shalit, but never mind. Israel ought to follow the rules.)

        I’m STILL trying to learn about international law, but you and Nat aren’t real helpful in my attempts to find out more.

        • Makabit, family visits to prisoners are protected by the basic right to a family life, anchored in the Fourth Geneva Convention to which Israel is a signatory and by international norms regarding prisoners during international conflicts. The ICRC repeatedly has called on Israel to resume the family visits for Gazan prisoners and stressed that Israel is required by Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention to allow family members to visit their relatives in detention

        • Makabit, there is no such thing as a “hostile political entity” under internartional law.

          This phrase was invented by far right wing Israeli political parties no one wants to be associated with.

      • Getting free undergraduate and post graduete academic education while in prison?
        Must be terrible…

        • Many Palestinian prisoners have never had access to “free undergraduate and post graduete academic education” while in jail.

          Don’t believe everything you read in press releases sent out by the Israeli Prison Services.

          • Poor sods. Were they been arrested in any other especially non-Western country they would be professors already.

          • Do the Israeli Prison Services have an e-mail list for their press releases? I must see these press releases.

        • “In July 2003, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) reported that “Israel does not recognize Palestinian prisoners as having the status of prisoners of war.” The Israeli military sets the conditions of detention and the administrative detention system allows for the imprisonment of an individual for up to 6 months. This detention can be extended without the approval of a judge. The FIDH report noted that, “In the case of administrative detention, the necessary conditions for the execution of a fair trial are far from being achieved given that the lawyers do not even have access to the evidence.”

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestinian_prisoners_in_Israel#Fourth_Geneva_Convention

          • FIDH? Another irrelavant politically motivated NGO who has nothing to do with human rights at all. But it has a big advantage for many absolutely unemployable losers can find a good life and a paid pseudo job in their Paris headquarter. Maybe you should aplly… Attach your pathethic Israel baiting posts on Cifwatch – they will like you.

          • He did it too late. It was simply ridiculous that terrorists sitting in prison got higher education on the Israeli taxpayers’ expense.

            • Peter, calling all Palestinians “terrorists”, women and children included, only serves to highlight a certain lack of intellectual abilities.

              • Ah speaking about intellectual abilities…
                I wrote: “…It was simply ridiculous that terrorists sitting in prison…”
                Your reaction:”Peter, calling all Palestinians “terrorists”, women and children included,…”

                Be frank Benyamin, tell us your delusions are the result of smoking or injecting some controlled stuff, too much alcohol or simply you mistakenly drank some crude instead of cafe in the morning…

                • Your comments qualifying all Palestinians, women and toddlers included, of being “terrorists” are grotesque and a disgrace to Israel.

                  • Benyamin are you a parrot or an idiot? Maybe an idiotic parrot?
                    Can you read at all ?

      • Don’t worry Nat he knows it. They are human beeings who were involved in killing, trying to kill or aiding others with the above intentions. Your pathetic whining puts you in their category too. Be sure before getting arrested that your school certificates (if you have one) are handy.

        • Peter, calling all Palestinians “terrorists”, women and children included, only serves to highlight a certain lack of intellectual abilities.

          Besides, wasn’t Israeli Prime Minister Shamir also a leader of terrorist organizations in his young years?

          • Peter, calling all Palestinians “terrorists”, women and children included, only serves to highlight a certain lack of intellectual abilities.

            Are you a broken disc Benyamin? I spole about murderous terrorists and not “all Palestinian”.

            And don’t speak about intellectual capabilities Benyamin… you kno hanged man’s house… rope etc.

  2. Forbiding prisoners from having visits is a violation of international law.

    Good to know that you are an expert on international law. I’m sure that you can name and quote the relevant article for us ignorants.

    • Peter, family visits to prisoners are protected by the basic right to a family life, anchored in the Fourth Geneva Convention to which Israel is a signatory and by international norms regarding prisoners during international conflicts. The ICRC repeatedly has called on Israel to resume the family visits for Gazan prisoners and stressed that Israel is required by Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention to allow family members to visit their relatives in detention

    • Peter, Israel is required by Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention to allow family members to visit their relatives in and has called on Israel to resume family visits to Gazan prisoners for several years.

      • Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention is as follows (this is copied and pasted from the ICRC website);

        “Art. 27. Protected persons are entitled, in all circumstances, to respect for their persons, their honour, their family rights, their religious convictions and practices, and their manners and customs. They shall at all times be humanely treated, and shall be protected especially against all acts of violence or threats thereof and against insults and public curiosity.

        Women shall be especially protected against any attack on their honour, in particular against rape, enforced prostitutiOn, or any form of indecent assault.

        Without prejudice to the provisions relating to their state of health, age and sex, all protected persons shall be treated with the same consideration by the Party to the conflict in whose power they are, without any adverse distinction based, in particular, on race, religion or political opinion.

        However, the Parties to the conflict may take such measures of control and security in regard to protected persons as may be necessary as a result of the war”

        Now kindly explain how Israel is in breach of Article 27 0f the Fourth Geneva Convention?

        • Still waiting for an explanation about how exactly Israel is in breach of Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

  3. Yep Give them finger and they will wont the hand.It will be never ending story as far as I’m concern and I’m sure many more like me if they wont to go on hunger strike good let them die they wonted to die for Allah and kill Jews so let them I don’t fill sorry for them or they families bad decision why it’s always Israel has to give in??? I’m sick and tired of this constant blackmail.

    • “I’m sure many more like me if they wont to go on hunger strike good let them die.”

      Mira, you wrote those lines full of hatred and then in other posts, you wonder why Israel’s image in Western countries is drowning??

      • Yes Benyamin all of the Western countries have nothing else to do only worry for your pets.

  4. EQuran School is the leading Online Quran Teaching Academy worldwide which provides Quran learning at your home, Online Quran tutors for kids Quran Teaching, Online Quran reading & Quran learning for kids, Online Quran teaching website,

  5. Nat the caught liar posts Palestinian propaganda and than some Quran advertising?
    Maybe closing the discussion at a certain point will prevent creeps continuing.

    • Fritz, you seem able only of insulting other people when you write.

      Do you realize the terrible image you give ?