Thursday, April 17, 2014
Palestinian teen goes on hunger strike to protest being placed in criminal prison
Ramallah, April 16, 2014—A Palestinian teen prisoner put in solitary confinement after going on hunger strike has won his fight to be transferred to another prison.
Authorities at Ofek Juvenile Prison in central Israel punished Obaida S, 15, from East Jerusalem with 25 consecutive days in solitary confinement after he went on hunger strike.
The teenager was protesting the Israeli Prison Service’s refusal to move him from a criminal prison and detain him with other political prisoners.
“(The prison) was dangerous … (the prisoners) assault each other physically. Some of the children were beaten up badly in front of me,” Obaida told DCI-Palestine in a sworn affidavit.
Obaida was arrested on November 25, 2013 and taken to Al-Mascobiyya detention center where he was held and interrogated for more than a month.
He was transferred to Ofek prison and on March 9, 2014 was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment after he accepted a plea bargain on a charge of throwing stones.
Ofek prison is designed to hold Israeli juvenile criminal detainees, but it also holds a number of Palestinian child political prisoners.
Obaida went on hunger strike from January 27 to January 29, and for a second time from February 14 to 18. He refused food and drank only water.
“While I was on a hunger strike, jailers used to threaten me to tie me to the bed and feed me forcibly,” he told DCI-Palestine.
Prison authorities held Obaida in solitary confinement from January 26 to February 19, when he was transferred to HaSharon Prison. It has two sections designated for Palestinian child political prisoners.
In 2012, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Occupied Palestinian territories condemned the practice of placing child prisoners on hunger strike in solitary confinement as “an appalling abuse.”
Despite a number of requests from DCI-Palestine for comment, the Israeli Prison service failed to respond.
Rifat Kassis, Executive Director of DCI-Palestine, called on Israel to end the use of solitary confinement.
“This draconian practice is yet another example of Israel’s systematic abuse of Palestinian children in detention. It is in defiance of international law and must end.”
*Patrick O. Strickland is a freelance contributor to Defense for Children International Palestine