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Some Facts About “The Only Democracy in the Middle East”

May 11, 2005


by Arjan El Fassed, from “Imprisoned Decency,” The Electronic Intifada, 18 August 2004

• From 1967 to now, Israelis have arbitrarily detained over 630,000 Palestinians.

• 32,000 Palestinians were arrested by occupation forces during the first three years of the Al-Aqsa Intifada, which began in September, 2000.

• In 1989 alone, Israelis detained 50,000 Palestinians, representing 16% of the entire male population of the West Bank and Gaza Strip between the ages of 14 and 55.

• Over 200 Palestinian prisoners have died while in Israeli custody, due to torture, ill-treatment, deprivation of medical treatment, and neglect.

• Israelis have systematically tortured and ill-treated approximately 80% of all Palestinian detainees. The torture is both psychological and physical, and includes beatings of sensitive organs, choking, pulling of hair off the body, prolonged solitary confinement, subjecting detainees to noise, screams, and threats against their families. Prisoners are also tear-gassed in confined spaces.

• Other forms of torture and ill-treatment include forcing Palestinian detainees to stand hooded and handcuffed for long periods of time, the use of electric shock, burning, beatings with hands, fists, truncheons, and boots, deprivation of sleep and basic hygiene; and starvation. In the occupied Palestinian territories, Israelis have established military courts that do not comply with fair trial standards. There are no standards. Justice, where it exists, is completely arbitrary.

• About half of the nearly 8,000 Palestinian prisoners are being detained without charge. The vast majority of Palestinian prisoners are political prisoners who have been arbitrarily imprisoned or detained for no legitimate security reason, but for political expression or simply because they are Palestinian.

• Between September 2000 to the end of June 2003, approximately 2,000 Palestinian children were arrested and detained. Children as young as 13 are held in Israeli prisons, with children aged 13 and 14 constituting approximately 10% of all child detainees. Almost all child detainees have reported some form of torture or mistreatment.

No issue symbolizes Israel’s denial of freedom to Palestinians better than that of political prisoners. Palestinians have been subjected to the highest rate of incarceration in the world — approximately 20 percent of the Palestinian population in the occupied Palestinian territories has, at one point, been arbitrarily detained or imprisoned by the Israeli occupation.

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