Hunger-striking Palestinian woman details 'cruel' torture in Israeli jail

Palestinian hunger striker details 'cruel and violent' torture under Israel's administrative detention
4 min read
08 October, 2019
'They do not know what humanity means': Hiba al-Labadi, on hunger strike for 15 days, gave details of gruelling physical and psychological abuse inflicted on her by Israeli prison guards.
Hiba al-Labadi's supporters have been posting messages on social media [Twitter]
The Palestinianian Commission of Detainees' Affairs released disturbing details on Tuesday of the torture suffered by Palestinian hunger striking detainee Hiba al-Labadi at the hands of the Israeli authorities.

The department published a statement by al-Labadi from September 29 in which she reported being verbally, physically, and psychologically abused by the interrogators and guards in the various prison in which she has been held in administrative detention since August 20.

Israel's widely condemned policy of administrative detention allows Palestinians to be detained without charge or trial for renewable intervals usually ranging between three to six months.

Al-Labadi, who is Palestinian with Jordanian citizenship, was originally arrested at the Allenby Bridge crossing while travelling with her mother and aunt from Jordan to the West Bank for a cousin's wedding.

"I planned for a five days of vacation full of joy, but the occupation took me to another world that I didn't expect, even in my nightmares," she said in the statement.

I planned for a five days of vacation full of joy, but the occupation took me to another world that I didn't expect, even in my nightmares

Al-Labadi launched a hunger strike on the 24th September in protest of the conditions of her detention, and has reportedly lost 10 kilograms in weight while suffering other health problems arising from starvation.

The 24-year-old reported that following her arrest she was kept in solitary confinement for hours before being blindfolded, her hands tied with plastic restraints and her legs bound and taken to a military base.

Al-Labadi has been strip searched several times, and when she asked to go to the toilet to change her menstrual pads, she was escorted by a female soldier who stood in the cubicle, pointing her gun at al-Labadi in order to humiliate her.

In the evening she was taken to Petah Tikva prison where she was interrogated until dawn the next day. Al-Labadi says she was interrogated for 35 consecutive days, despite there being no charges against her.

Al-Labadi called the interrogations "cruel and violent", saying she was kept tied to a chair for hours on end, while interrogators shouted at her and verbally abused her.

"They threatened me and said that they had arrested my mother and sister in an attempt to force me confess," al-Labadi said.

"They told me 'we do not have any evidence against you, but we have administrative detention and the authority to renew it for seven and a half years, and then we will detain you in the West Bank and prevent you from going to Jordan or family visits," her statement added.

Al-Labadi said the conditions in the prison are unbearable. Her cells have been small, windowless and infested with cockroaches, while the lights are kept on at all times and there is no water. 

She said she is given dirty pyjamas to wear and has a thin mattress with no cover or pillow.

The bathrooms have no showers and al-Labadi described them as "disturbing".

I told the interrogator that the psychological torture they use is more difficult than physical torture, and he said, 'I know'

She added that guards eat kunafah and sweets in front of her to taunt her after she was taken to the prison clinic for dizziness after refusing to eat.

Speaking of her condition, al-Labadi said: "Psychological torture is harder, more tiring and more harmful than physical torture. I have never seen such an extent of hatred and aggression in my whole life. I lost [any] sense of humanity. They do not know what humanity means. I told the interrogator that the psychological torture they use is more difficult than physical torture, and he said, 'I know'."

Since beginning her hunger strike she has been transferred to Jalamah prison "as punishment", where her cell, even the toilet, is kept under constant surveillance to the extent that al-Labadi says she hadn't taken a shower or changed her clothes in four days.

"This experience is the greatest injustice to humanity, thus, we prefer death rather than humiliation," her statement concludes.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society reported that Israeli forces have tortured 73 Palestinians to death since 1967.

The Jordanian Foreign Ministry said they are helping Hiba, having visited her three times since her arrest.

However Hiba’s family complain about the lack of communication they have received from the ministry.

Al-Labadi is one of many prisoners protesting administrative detention and inhumane prison conditions by hunger strike.

Samidoun, the Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, reported on Wednesday that Ismail Ali, 30, has reached his 71st day on hunger strike, while Tareq Qadan, 46, is on his 64th.

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