Sunlight and freedom: Palestinian longest-serving female prisoner liberated
Since 1967, Israeli occupation forces have imprisoned approximately 16,000 Palestinian women under harsh, brutal, and inhumane circumstances.
After 7 years of Israeli imprisonment, Israeli occupation authorities released Amal Taqatqa; the longest-serving female prisoner. In 2014, terrorist Israeli forces shot six bullets into the body of Amal Taqatqa, a young Palestinian girl who was getting ready for her wedding at the time. They arrested and tortured her, ignoring the fact that she was bleeding, and finally, a so-called Israeli court sentenced her to 7 years in prison.
Amal Taqatqa is the only Palestinian woman who has been acquitted after serving a long sentence in prison. Amal, like other Palestinians, was denied proper medical treatment and endured a living nightmare as a result of 6 Israeli bullets deforming her body, being separated from her family and loved ones, and most importantly, being denied justice. Amal has finally come out into the sunlight and freedom after years of pain and injustice.
On both sides of the road, Palestinians sprayed flower petals on Amal's car, shouted exuberant greetings, and lit off fireworks in celebration. Taqatqa addressed people who came to congratulate her that she will continue to fight for the Palestinians’ right to self-determination and against Israeli brutality.
Over 10,000 Palestinian women have been arrested and imprisoned by “Israel” since the occupation began more than 50 years ago in 1967. Palestinian women are often arrested on the streets, at Israeli military checkpoints, and in their homes. When Palestinian women and girls describe their experience, they depict the severity of the arrest process, as well as the circumstances of the Israeli interrogation process, detention and prison camps, and even the hospitals while in detention. They are subjected to abuse, ill-treatment, and torture as a result of “Israel's” mounting brutality and inhumanity throughout a 50-year occupation and annexation of Palestinian territory. While Israeli imprisonment conditions vary by prison, they always fail to meet the requirements of women or meet international legal standards.
Moreover, female Palestinian detainees are often refused an explanation of their rights and the grounds for their arrests when they are taken to interrogation and detention centers. They are frequently denied access to an attorney and kept in detention for several days, where they are also subjected to torture and ill-treatment, which without doubt results in severe physical and mental trauma. Long periods of seclusion from the outside world, brutal prison conditions, and the excessive use of blindfolds and shackles are all examples of interrogation techniques the Israeli occupation forces use.
Furthermore, the IOF have been targeting university students, particularly females, the majority of which were accused of university activism. This not only criminalizes their student activism but also violates their right to peaceful protest. All of this obstructs their access to education, resulting in a violation of their right to quality education. Notably, even pregnant Palestinian women have not been spared from the Israeli illegal occupation regime's widespread arrests of Palestinian civilians. (ADDAMEER, 2020).
According to the Palestinian Prisoners' Society (PPS), at least 34 Palestinian women detainees, including eight mothers and seven injured and ill women, have been yearning for freedom in Israeli occupation jails. PPS also said that women prisoners are living in very difficult conditions and are denied their basic rights.
Significantly, the Society stated that Palestinian women remain a partner in the struggle for freedom, implying that Israeli prisons housing Palestinian women bear witness to this struggle. Women take part in all courageous protests against the Israeli Prison Service, the most recent of which was a hunger strike to protest the practices imposed against Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails.
Since 1967, Israeli occupation forces have imprisoned approximately 16,000 Palestinian women. Fatima Barnawi, a Palestinian woman from occupied Jerusalem, was the first Palestinian female detainee in Israeli jails. Barnawi was arrested in 1967 and sentenced to life in prison. In 1977, she was freed. The Israeli occupation continuously violates the rights of Palestinian female detainees in Israeli jails and prisons, in direct violation of the 1987 Convention against Torture, which prohibits inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment.
Palestinian female detainees in Israeli jails are subjected to inhumane conditions, including physical attacks and medical neglect, as well as denial of most basic fundamental rights, such as education and freedom of worship. Israel must take responsibility for its actions in the occupied territories, especially when it comes to the mistreatment of women during arrests and transfers. In addition, the occupation forces are bound, by international humanitarian law, to safeguard female detainees.
Similarly, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women on States Parties' Core Obligations states that,
“Although subject to international law, States primarily exercise territorial jurisdiction. The obligations of States parties apply, however, without discrimination both to citizens and non-citizens, including refugees, asylum-seekers, migrant workers, and stateless persons, within their territory or effective control, even if not situated within the territory. States parties are responsible for all their actions affecting human rights, regardless of whether the affected persons are in their territory.”