Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Palestine Week

Palestine Week is a week long celebration of...Palestine. We're pretty confused though. Is it mostly about the prisoners? The culture? The history? Judging by the huge posters on various buildings and the excellently set up labyrinth that acts as a fake tour to an Israeli prison, it's mostly about prisoners. But then there are other posters advertising a concert (tonight at 6pm on campus) of Ammar Hasan, the skinny guy who was on the Arab version of American Idol entitled Superstar some six years ago, and Nazareth song-bird Reem al-Banna. (Sidenote-we love Reem's Spanish husband who's a monster on guitar and provides back up vocals which are really nothing more than sound effects hehe!) The concert has vendors selling accessories and La Costa coffee (roof of Duwar al-Sa3a building) which made us wonder, where do all the proceeds go to? And why wasn't the concert properly advertised? We only found out today. Truth is, there is not a whole lot of information we can give because we're so addled with term papers and exams and lack of sleep. We can however produce pictures of the labyrinthine prison.

Israeli prisoners hold up to more than 8000 Palestinian prisoners, many of them held without charge and suffer administrative detention. These prisons are no 2 star motel either. Overcrowding, torture, lack of medical attention, unsanitary conditions are all defining features of said sadistic facilities, which number nine. Family visits must be approved by the military, and no there are no conjugal sessions.

Askhelon Prison, built around 1948. It is surrounded by all sides with walls that are 4 meters in height, plus another 4 watch towers. It has four sections for Palestinian prisoners which can fit up to 80 individuals, but the reality is that some 300 prisoners occupy one division.

Prisons Rammoun, Be'er Sheva, Hasharoun, Hadarim, al-Damoun, Majdo, Remounim, Kats'out.

By far the most brutal is Kats'out, which is located in the Naqab desert where prisoners reside in tents, which obviously do not serve as protection from the fierce hot summers or the equally harsh cold winters. Not to mention scorpions, rats, mosquitoes, and other insects/creepy crawlies infest every corner. Conditions were so desperate that after opening in 1988 (during the first intifada) it was closed down in 1996 only to be reopened to welcome prisoners during the second intifada.
Majdo is the prison located nearest to a West Bank city, Jenin. It currently houses more than 1200 prisoners, with special divisions for those between 12-18 of age. It is known for its employment of "3asafeer" which are spies masquerading as prisoners.

Remounim has a grand total of 80 prisoners, all of them between 16 to 18 years of age.

al-Damoun is situated in Haifa and the original building was used during the British Mandate as a storehouse for cigarettes. As a result of its dilapidation and intense mouldiness prisoners suffer from breathing and kidney problems. Insects infest each room, and the water prisoners are served is so polluted that the prisoners themselves try to make it drinkable by putting strips of cloths in the tanks to absorb pollutants.

Hasharoun is for the female prisoners, where three of the eighteen are serving multiple life sentences.

PS we're so glad that for what seems like the first time, Palestine flags decorating campus outnumbered the Fateh yellow flags by far.

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