RAMALLAH, May 2 (JMCC) – Eyad Abu Hamad remembers well the last time he saw his brother.
He was very healthy, didn’t smoke, was athletic, and did karate,” he says. “He'd been in solitary confinement for a year and a half.”
The last time their sister visited Raed in prison, it was as if he had a premonition of his death. “He told her, 'I saw myself riding a black horse, and running away from you on its back,’” recalls Eyad.
The Palestinian coroner who carried out Hammad's autopsy reported that he died from a blow to the lower back. According to the report, the blow was most probably a kick by an Israeli soldier's foot.
The minute a prisoner enters solitary confinement, death pursues him,” says minister of prisoner’s affairs Issa Qaraqa
. “There's nothing to say except that solitary confinement is a slow poison that ends in death.”
Nineteen other prisoners are known to be held in solitary confinement, says Qaraqa. Raed Abu Hamad's death two weeks ago has raised concerns for their fate.
Nasser Hussein spent time in solitary confinement during the first Palestinian uprising in the eighties.
“Solitary confinement is an efficient way to ruin a prisoner's life and weaken him. He's left in a dark room, no larger than a meter square, where he eats, sleeps and defecates. No air, no clean water, no books, no newspapers, no TV and most importantly, no one to talk to except the walls, says Hussein.
He suggests that prolonged time in solitary confinement causes psychological problems. “How would [the prisoner] return to normal if confinement is accompanied by continuous torture? Solitary confinement is almost a slow execution.
Prisoners who are held in solitary confinement often don’t know when they will be allowed to rejoin the rest of the prisoners.
“They are not taken to any judge who rules on the confinement,” says prisoner’s club head Qadura Fares. “Their fate is controlled by the intelligence and security apparatuses in the prisons’ administration.”
Fares calls the policy of confining prisoners for years on end, a “vengeful punishment.” These prisoners are confined “as an extra punitive measure for their background in activism.”
The prisoner’s club has published a list of some of the prisoners who are currently in solitary confinement, many of them top political leaders charged with murder. Mahmoud Eissa has been isolated for eight years; Hassan Salameh for six years. Mohammad Jamal Natsheh, Abdullah Barghouti, Ibrahim Hammed, Hisham Sharabati, Moataz Hijazi and Saleh Dar Moussa have all been isolated for four years.
Wafaa al-Bes, Ahmad Saadat, Thabet Mardawi, Ahmad Maghreb, Jamal Abul Heija, Mahawesh Naamat, Atwa al-Amour, Eyad Abu Hasna, Mohannad Shreim and Ahed Ghalameh have been in solitary confinement for one to three years.
Over 200 Palestinians have died in Israeli prisons.