Dozens of Palestinians took the streets Tuesday in occupied West Bank and annexed East Jerusalem in support of Palestinian detainee Samir Arbeed, who was admitted to a hospital in a critical state after days of torture by the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal intelligence services.
Imprisoned Palestinian Woman Begins 8th Day of Hunger Strike
Palestinian Red Crescent reported that dozens of demonstrators were treated for tear gas inhalation after Israeli security forces fired tear gas, sound bombs, and rubber-coated bullets towards them.
Protesters demonstrated outside the illegal Israeli settlement of Beit El, following a call made by Samidoun, a Palestinian prisoner solidarity network, and students from the Birzeit University, for a “day of rage” in solidarity with Arbeed.
Others rallied outside the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) headquarters in the city of al-Bireh located 15 kilometers north of Jerusalem.
They shouted slogans supporting Arbeed, and a number of them announced they won’t leave until an ICRC doctor is sent to evaluate the prisoner’s condition and an independent investigation is opened into what happened to him while in custody.
The ICRC is the only international humanitarian organization allowed to access Palestinians in Israeli jails.
“The lack of an ICRC visit to Arbeed until now is the latest example of the longstanding violation of Palestinian prisoners’ rights, especially for those with health issues and on hunger strike,” activist Dalia Nassar told the Middle East Eye.
44-year-old Palestinian Arbeed was transferred Friday to a hospital in Jerusalem in a critical condition, with a fractured rib cage, bruises, signs of beating all over his body and severe kidney failure, following a three-day interrogation by Israel’s Shin Bet who is accusing him to be the mastermind behind an alleged attack in an illegal West Bank settlement.
Arbeed’s wife, Noura Miselmani, told the Middle East Eye on Saturday that her husband was in good health and not suffering from any illness before he was arrested.
The Israeli Ministry of Justice has since opened an investigation into Arbeed’s treatment, however, Palestinians have long been denouncing Israeli investigations into allegations of mistreatment of Palestinians as smoke and mirrors meant to assuage international opinion.
Sahar Francis, director of Prisoners’ rights organization Addameer told the Middle East Eye that one of its lawyers went to visit Arbeed at the hospital for a few minutes on Monday, but could not speak to him.
The lawyer reported that Arbeed was unconscious and placed on artificial ventilation, remaining between life and death.
Francis also said that Arbeed is still officially detained and under investigation. The prisoner’s rights group requested his release and a hearing is expected to be held in an Israeli court on Wednesday regarding the case.
Israeli authorities have been criticized for years by rights organizations for abuses and violations against Palestinian prisoners, the majority of whom are detained in facilities inside Israel in breach of international law.
According to Addameer, some 220 Palestinians have died in Israeli custody since 1967 due to medical negligence or as a result of torture. In July, 31-year-old Nassar Taqatqa was found dead in unclear circumstances in a solitary confinement cell, a month after he was arrested by Israeli forces.