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New PA libel: Israel tortures prisoners with hot irons and electric drills
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New PA libel:
Israel tortures prisoners
with hot irons and electric drills

Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik

Libelous drawings depicting fictitious "Israeli torture" are part of the new introduction to a PA TV program for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons and their families.

Purporting to show how Palestinian prisoners are tortured by Israel, the drawings portray Israeli prison guards:

1- Burning into a prisoner's chest with a hot iron;
2- Drilling a hole through a prisoner's hand;
3- Burning into a prisoner's shoulder with a soldering iron;
4- Whipping a prisoner while hanging him by his feet ;
5- Squeezing a prisoner's head in a medieval looking head press;
6- Chopping off a prisoner's arm below the elbow;
7- Hanging a prisoner by his arms while chains pull from his chest and neck.

Broadcast twice a week, the program For You is aimed at Palestinians imprisoned for terror offenses in Israeli prisons, where they watch the program. It includes footage from the prisoners' home villages and interviews with their family members, who send them televised messages.

PA TV is controlled by the office of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

It should be noted that no accusations about this kind of treatment have ever been made against Israel by the International Red Cross, by human rights groups or by Palestinian prisoners themselves.

In a striking irony, in the same week that the PA started to disseminate these libelous drawings on TV, an article in the official PA daily indicated that the prisons are very different than these libels portray. It stated that Palestinian prisoners are given educational opportunities. The PA daily celebrated how "prisoners in occupation [Israeli] prisons complete university studies and obtain MA and Ph.D. degrees," and proudly cited that "since 2000 more than 10,000 Palestinian prisoners have attained matriculation certificates while still in the occupation prisons." [Transcript below]

Another testimony corroborating the fact that prisoners are well treated in Israeli prisons came from a Palestinian prisoner interviewed on the For You program the day he was released from prison. The PA TV host was trying to have him express criticism of prison conditions, and repeatedly asked him about prison. The prisoner kept answering that prisoners "lack nothing" in the Israeli prisons:

PA TV Host: "You were in Megiddo [prison]. How are the guys?
You were released from prison just today."
Prisoner: "By Allah, the guys in the prison are fine. They lack nothing. They are doing fine."
Host: "Do they lack nothing?"
Prisoner: "They are doing really fine."
Host: "They lack nothing, not even freedom?"
Prisoner: "No. Freedom, Allah willing, there will be freedom."
Host: "How long were you in prison?"
Prisoner: "Two years."
Host: "And you say that they lack nothing?"
Prisoner: "I don't know." 
[PA TV (Fatah), June 24, 2010]

Click to see the interview with the released prisoner

The following is the translation of the article celebrating the Palestinian prisoners' academic achievements:

Headline: "Prisoners in occupation prisons complete university studies and obtain MA and Ph.D. degrees"

"The occupation authorities don't leave a single option [open] without using it to make things difficult for the prisoners, regardless of their party or faction affiliation. Behind the prison bars, they are all Palestinians, and in the eyes of the warden they are all deserving of the harshest forms of punishment. Despite the oppression of the occupation and its incessant cruelty towards the prisoners, many of them are defying the Israeli oppression and are determined to succeed while behind prison bars. Many of them have succeeded in obtaining the highest degrees, while others are working on the preparation of special research, getting them out to the world outside [the prison] and publishing them in the media, especially the electronic media. Owing to the rise in the number of prisoners receiving degrees - including Ph.D's - while still in prison, Israel recently began a new campaign meant to make things difficult for the prisoners and to try to withhold their elementary rights to education. It [Israel] has started to place obstacles in the way of the prisoners seeking to take the matriculation examinations. ... Prisoner Ayman Al-Hamoud takes great pride in his academic achievements in the Israeli prisons. He emphasized that all of his achievements were to spite the warden, and said that he had obtained an MA through the Al-Huraa University [based in Haag, the Netherlands]... Al-Hamoud said: 'The occupation is withholding everything from us, even our elementary rights, and therefore we conduct telephone calls with our families in secret, using devices which are smuggled in with difficulty. Today the occupation is trying in every possible way to withhold mobile phones from us; at every moment they storm the tents seeking phone devices. So how will they permit us to study at universities, and award us the rest of the prisoners' rights? They are trying to make things difficult for us in every way and manner, and we can only defy their racist steps.'
Al-Hamoud noted that many prisoners have registered at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, obtaining this right after a widespread strike held by the prisoners in the detention camps. Many regard released prisoner Fahd Abu Al-Hajj as an example motivating them to achieve the highest degrees: He entered prison illiterate, in 1978, and now he holds a Ph.D... Since [the year] 2000 more than 10,000 Palestinian prisoners have attained matriculation certificates while still in the occupation prisons. Today there are some 200 prisoners who are registered at various universities around the world."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Oct. 9, 2010]