Protest against prisoner conditions in Israeli jails will not prevent anger and delegitimization of PA law enforcement system for its own violations.
A Palestinian prisoner being held on charges connected to a stabbing died in a Palestinian Authority jail in Jericho on Friday, according to a Jerusalem Post and Ma’an News Agency. The articles report that the Palestinian attorney general ordered and launched an investigation into the death and an autopsy. Palestinian officials have said that Ayman Samarah, 40, was not tortured, but suffered from diabetes and high blood pressure and was taken to a hospital on Friday after being arrested; there are conflicting reports about whether he died in prison or in the hospital and the Post cites Palestinians in Jericho saying he was beaten by other prisoners. Families of prisoners have reportedly held a sit-in near the prison.
The PA law enforcement system has been guilty of human rights violations its treatment of detainees in the past. The practice of arresting people and holding them without charges or trial has become familiar in Israel and Palestine, writes Human Rights Watch – familiar, one might add, for Palestinians. Also in 2008, a 27-year old died in PA custody; the Palestinian Center for Human Rights called for an investigation.
In a recent and highly publicized case, Zakaria Zubeidi – a former militant who turned to non-violent cultural resistance and co-founded the Freedom Theater in Jenin – was arrested last May and held for roughly five months without trial. He spoke of torture, solitary confinement and denial of access to lawyers, and went on a hunger strike to protest his detention before being released on bail last October.
For the time being, the Palestinian judicial system appears to retain some measure of legitimacy among the Palestinian people. When Zubeidi was released, he gave a press conference reiterating his accusations, but he also affirmed his faith in the system.
“Zubeidi stated his belief in the fairness of the Palestinian judiciary. His message to the judges was that the press conference is constructive criticism to avoid future mistakes and injustices.
He added that his only weapon during his stay in prison was going on hunger strike. Zubeidi sent a message to the Palestinian judiciary, saying: “My case is in your hands. If you find any violation of the law, I am under the...