Palestinian ex-detainees heard “screams around the clock” from fellow prisoners – Day 136

Palestinian ex-detainees heard “screams around the clock” from fellow prisoners – Day 136

Israeli torture, grotesque humiliation of Palestinian prisoners; reports that Israeli forces killed, raped and sexually assaulted Palestinian women and girls; humanitarian aid has reached “its lowest level”; UNICEF expects “explosion in preventable child deaths”; Netanyahu rejects a Palestinian state; ICJ hearing continues against Israel’s occupation; settler attacks in West Bank jumped 200% over last year; danger of Israel’s Ramadan restrictions on Al Aqsa Mosque; US offers a relatively strongly-worded resolution at UNSC; Nancy Pelosi’s delusional statement; fears for Marwan Barghouti’s life; and more

By IAK staff, from reports

CNN reports: UN experts demand investigation into claims Israeli forces killed, raped and sexually assaulted Palestinian women and girls in Gaza and the West Bank

The allegations include extrajudicial killing, arbitrary detention, degrading treatment, rape and sexual violence, according to a statement by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights released on Monday. They referred to photos of female detainees in degrading circumstances reportedly taken by Israeli troops and uploaded online.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) denied the accusations and said it adheres to international law. “Without precise details or proof of individual cases it is not possible for us to examine them in depth,” the IDF said in a statement to CNN.

The experts, who are part of the largest body for independent fact-finding and monitoring in the UN human rights system, expressed their concerns over Israel’s “arbitrary detention” of hundreds of Palestinian women and girls since the October 7.

The UN High Commissioner’s report stated:

Palestinian women and girls have reportedly been arbitrarily executed in Gaza, often together with family members, including their children, according to information received. “We are shocked by reports of the deliberate targeting and extrajudicial killing of Palestinian women and children in places where they sought refuge, or while fleeing. Some of them were reportedly holding white pieces of cloth when they were killed by the Israeli army or affiliated forces,” the experts said.

The experts expressed serious concern about the arbitrary detention of hundreds of Palestinian women and girls, including human rights defenders, journalists and humanitarian workers, in Gaza and the West Bank since 7 October. Many have reportedly been subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment, denied menstruation pads, food and medicine, and severely beaten. On at least one occasion, Palestinian women detained in Gaza were allegedly kept in a cage in the rain and cold, without food…

Human rights researcher Diane Paul reports that human rights activists working on prisoners held by Israel say no one knows the location of many detention sites, although some have been identified through reports from released prisoners and forensic evidence gathered via social media.  

In December, representatives from The Commission for Ex-Prisoners’ Affairs, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club, and the Addameer Foundation for Prisoners Care and Human Rights told Middle East Monitor that “Several hundred detainees from Gaza are believed to be detained in sections 23 and 25 in Ofer Prison, where many detainees from the West Bank are held.” 

Ex-detainees also told the rights groups that “Israeli guards carry out horrific crimes and degrading treatment against detainees from Gaza, including asking them to bark like dogs before giving them meals, and demanding they sing pro-Israel songs in a loud voice, adding that they could clearly hear their screams around the clock as a result of the torture and abuse meted out against them.” (Read more about her findings here.)

Palestinian prisoners were brought to Abu Youssef Al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah in south of Gaza as a result of the torture inflicted upon them during detention by Israeli forces in inhumane conditions
Palestinian prisoners were brought to Abu Youssef Al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah in south of Gaza as a result of the torture inflicted upon them during detention by Israeli forces in inhumane conditions (photo)

A detailed, 41-page report by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHRI) reveals that Palestinian prisoners have been beaten, abused, sexually humiliated and medically neglected since October 7.

The findings outline a pattern of daily violence in which Israeli guards indiscriminately assault Palestinians with batons, including incidents of sexually explicit insults and urination on detainees.

The PHRI also stated that Palestinian prisoners were on occasion held in confinement for days or placed in overcrowded cells and deprived of water and electricity for up to 23 hours daily.

The report documented forced disappearances of hundreds of Palestinians from Gaza, including many who were not engaged in combat. (Read the full report here.)

OCHA reports: As of February 2024, according to the Israel Prison Service (IPS), there are nearly 9,000 Palestinians in Israeli custody, including 3,484 administrative detainees (39 per cent) held without trial. These figures do not include detainees from the Gaza Strip held by the Israeli military.

The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) reports: “Everyone in Gaza is hungry, including 50,000 pregnant women, with malnutrition making them more susceptible to disease and less able to recover.” Underscoring the immense risks facing pregnant women in Gaza, UNFPA warned: “If the bombs don’t kill pregnant women, if disease, hunger and dehydration don’t catch up with them, simply giving birth could.”

A Palestinian man comforts another as they inspect the destruction of a family home.
A Palestinian man comforts another as they inspect the destruction of a family home. (photo)

Al Jazeera’s Hani Al Shaem reports from the Karam Abu Salam checkpoint: We’re here on the Palestinian side of the Karam Abu Salem border crossing, which has seen a clear decline in the entry of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the month.

Officials here say the decline is due to demonstrations on the Israeli side of the crossing, organised by the families of Israeli captives in Gaza.

The decline in the quantity of humanitarian aid has reached its lowest level. And that, of course, has a big negative effect on Palestinians in dire need of that aid.

From February 1 to 13, the number of aid trucks was not more than 110, compared with 200 trucks last month.

Israel’s complicated procedures have also played a role in the decrease as well as the late delivery of goods that piled up at the Israeli side of the crossing.

NOTE: Videos appear to indicate some Israeli military presence at the crossing, but (with exceptions) little effort to move the protesters out of the way so the trucks can pass. Israel declared the area a closed military zone to deter protesters, but the move has not succeeded
Israeli protesters demonstrate in an attempt to block aid trucks from entering Gaza, Karam Abu Salam crossing, January 29, 2024.
Israeli protesters demonstrate in an attempt to block aid trucks from entering Gaza, Karam Abu Salam crossing, January 29, 2024. (photo)

UNICEF states, “The Gaza Strip is poised to witness an explosion in preventable child deaths, which would compound the already unbearable level of child deaths in Gaza,” UNICEF official Ted Chaiban said in a news release. UNICEF is the lead agency in the Global Nutrition Cluster.

The report also found that at least 90 percent of children under 5 were affected by one or more infectious diseases and 70 percent have had diarrhea in the past two weeks.

Al Jazeera reports: Israeli gunboats have fired at Palestinian fishermen off the Gaza coast, threatening a vital source of food.

The men were using small boats to catch fish off the coast near Rafah.

Under the Israeli blockade, they used to be able to fish up to 37km (23 miles) out to the sea but not any more.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a video statement Monday, announcing legislation he is sending to the Knesset, calling for national unity in rejecting any “imposed” Palestinian state (an extension of the cabinet-level agreement made Sunday). In his remarks, Netanyahu reminds viewers that (with calls for an election after the war ends) he is their champion when it comes to rejection of Palestinian statehood.

“…in the last few days, we have been witnessing a new type of pressure: an attempt to unilaterally impose on us the establishment of a Palestinian state that would endanger the existence of the State of Israel.

We reject it outright.

That is why I brought to the government a proposal for a resolution that states that Israel will oppose the attempt to unilaterally impose upon it the establishment of a Palestinian state.

…this proposal was unanimously accepted by all participants in the government. We are all united in the position that Israel must not submit to international dictates on such an existential matter.

I welcome that, and I am bringing the agreed proposal for Knesset approval today. I am sure it will win an overwhelming majority.

This will make it clear to the world that there is a very broad unity within Israel against the international attempt to impose a Palestinian state on it.

Israeli citizens, Everyone knows that I am the one who stopped for decades the establishment of a Palestinian state that would endanger our existence. My position was and remains clear. It only got stronger after the terrible massacre of the Seven in October.

In any situation, with or without a permanent settlement, Israel will maintain full security control over the entire area west of Jordan. This of course includes Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip.

Life in Rafah amid Israeli threat of ground assault
Life in Rafah amid Israeli threat of ground assault (photo)

Update on ICJ hearing on the legality of Israeli occupation

CNN reports: The International Court of Justice began hearing historic oral arguments Monday over the Israeli occupation of territory claimed by Palestinians.

Fifty-two countries will participate in arguments at The Hague over the six-day hearing – more than any other case heard by the court in its history.

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki declared Monday, "The right to self-determination does not lapse by statute of limitations and is non-negotiable, and the Israeli occupation must end without conditions."
Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki declared Monday, “The right to self-determination does not lapse by statute of limitations and is non-negotiable, and the Israeli occupation must end without conditions.” (photo)

The 15 judges on the court will consider, as per UN General Assembly instructions, “the legal consequences arising from the ongoing violation by Israel of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, from its prolonged occupation, settlement and annexation of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967.”

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki testified Monday, “Successive Israeli governments have given the Palestinian people only three options: displacement, subjugation or death. But our people are here to stay, they have a right to live in freedom and dignity in their ancestral land. They will not forsake their rights.”

Al-Maliki called for an end to “double standards in handling the Palestinian issue,” advocating for the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination.

The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) released a statement declaring, “Israel does not recognize the legitimacy of the discussion at the International Court of Justice in The Hague regarding the ‘legality of the occupation’ – a move designed to harm Israel’s right to defend itself against existential threats.”

Representatives from the various countries participating in the case will deliver their remarks starting Tuesday. Israel is not scheduled to speak but has made a written submission.

Israeli settlements are illegal under international law, and Palestinians have engaged in direct negotiations with Israel for decades. But Palestinian rights advocates said the peace process has only entrenched the occupation without protecting the rights of Palestinians.

More on ICJ hearing from The New Arab: Israel is applying an even more extreme version of apartheid in the Palestinian territories than experienced in South Africa before 1994, Pretoria told the world’s top court on Tuesday.

“We as South Africans sense, see, hear and feel to our core the inhumane discriminatory policies and practices of the Israeli regime as an even more extreme form of the apartheid that was institutionalized against black people in my country,” said Vusimuzi Madonsela, South Africa’s ambassador to the Netherlands, where the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is based.

“It is clear that Israel’s illegal occupation is also being administered in breach of the crime of apartheid… It is indistinguishable from settler colonialism. Israel’s apartheid must end,” said Madonsela.

He said South Africa had a “special obligation” to call out apartheid wherever it occurs and ensure it is “brought to an immediate end”.

NOTE: Multiple human rights organizations have documented and reported on Israeli apartheid, including: Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Israeli human rights groups B’Tselem, and Yesh Din , the UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), and Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic.

WEST BANK – Al Jazeera’s Ayman Nobani reports from Nablus: Since October 7, and compared with the same months in previous years, settler attacks have intensified by 208 percent, Nablus’s acting Governor Ghassan Daghlas has said.

“The attacks have intensified, especially after more settlers were getting armed by the Israeli government, military checkpoints were closed, and barriers were imposed, tightening the siege on Nablus governorate,” Daghlas told Al Jazeera.

Twelve military checkpoints currently encircle Nablus city and its surrounding villages; the Israeli army has also installed 10 gates at the entrances to villages and towns south of Nablus, Daghlas said.

WEST BANK – Al Jazeera reports: The Palestinian Authority’s Foreign Ministry says the international community should not turn a blind eye to the Israeli national security minister’s push to impose restrictions on Muslims’ access to Al-Aqsa during the Muslim holy month.

This will provoke an unprecedented escalation in the conflict and will be a direct threat to the security and stability of the entire region,” the ministry said.

“This is racist incitement against Palestinians, forbidding them from praying in their mosque during the holiest of months,” it said.

Ha’aretz reported that PM Netanyahu had accepted a proposal by extremist Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir to impose restrictions on entry to the mosque during Ramadan.

RECOMMENDED READING (Middle East Eye): Israel seeks to ‘provoke’ Palestinians by limiting Al-Aqsa entry during Ramadan
Israeli border police on patrol at the Damascus Gate in occupied East Jerusalem
Israeli border police on patrol at the Damascus Gate in occupied East Jerusalem (photo)

Al Jazeera reports: A new US draft resolution before the UN Security Council includes some of the toughest language issued by Washington so far, calling for a temporary ceasefire and saying an Israeli assault on Rafah under the current circumstances would have “serious implications” for regional security.

The US measure “is significant because Israel did not want the word ‘ceasefire’ in any resolution, and now it’s the US that’s proposing it”, Al Jazeera diplomatic correspondent James Bays reported, adding that the language is not as strong as many members would like.

“The second thing in this resolution I think is very significant is the US issuing this warning to Israel not to launch a ground offensive into Rafah.”

RECOMMENDED READING (Mondoweiss): Nancy Pelosi claims no U.S. weapons have been used to carry out Israeli atrocities in Gaza

Rep. Nancy Pelosi claims no U.S. weapons have been used to carry our Israeli atrocities in Gaza since October 7, but the evidence proves otherwise.

WEST BANK – Middle East Monitor reports: The Palestinian Commission of Detainees’ Affairs said on Monday that it fears for the life of prominent leader Marwan Barghouti who has been placed in solitary confinement in Israel’s Ramla Prison for the third time since the occupation state started its devastating war on the besieged Gaza Strip.

As a senior official in Fatah, Barghouti, 65, was arrested in 2002 and given four life sentences on charges of committing hostile acts against Israel during the Second Intifada. Opinion polls indicate that a broad segment of Palestinians want Barghouti to succeed Mahmoud Abbas as president.

Far-right Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir confirmed last Wednesday that Barghouti is in “isolation”. The move, he said on X, was made after receiving “information about a planned intifada [uprising].”

“Preventing lawyers from visiting [Barghouti] raises real fears for his life, especially since the isolation is accompanied by direct and continuous incitement against him in the Israeli media,” said Qaddoura Fares, the head of the commission.


Palestinian death toll from October 7 – February 19: at least 29,490* (29,092 in Gaza* (over 12,660 children, 8,570 women), and at least 398 in the West Bank (100 children). This does not include an estimated 7,000 more still buried under rubble (4,900 women and children). Euro-Med Monitor reports 36,671 Palestinian deaths.

About 1.7 million, or 75% of Gaza’s population are currently displaced.

Palestinian injuries from October 7 – February 19: at least 73,539** (including at least 69,028 in Gaza and 4,511 in the West Bank).

It remains unknown how many Americans are among the casualties in Gaza.

Reported Israeli death toll from October 7 – February 19: ~1,387 (~1,139 on October 7, 2023, of which ~574 were civilians, 373 or 337 were security and/or military forces, ~32 were Americans, and ~36 were children); 236 military forces since the ground invasion began in Gaza;, 12 in the West Bank) and~8,730 injured.

NBC reports: “According to the latest available IDF data… nearly 1 in 5, or 17%, of all Israel’s losses have come not at the hands of Hamas but from mishaps on its own side.”

NOTE: It is unknown at this time how many of the deaths and injuries in Israel on October 7 were caused by Israeli soldiers.

*Previously, IAK did not include 471 Gazans killed in the Al Ahli hospital blast since the source of the projectile was being disputed. However, given that much evidence points to Israel as the culprit, Israel had previously bombed the hospital and has attacked many others, Israel is prohibiting outside experts from investigating the scene, and since the UN and other agencies are including the deaths from the attack in their cumulative totals, if Americans knew is now also doing so.

Find previous daily casualty figures and daily news updates here.

For more news, go here and hereBroadcast news from the region is here.

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