Israel Cuts Off Electricity and Water to Palestinian Prisoners in the 'Security Wings' of Israeli Prisons

Human rights organizations sent an urgent letter, arguing that this action of collective punishment is illegal and amounts to torture. It is part of a series of arbitrary and vindictive sanctions that the Israeli prison services must immediately halt.

Yesterday, 13 October 2023, Adalah - The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights, along with the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Physicians for Human Rights Israel, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, and HaMoked, sent a letter to the National Security Minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel's Attorney General, Gali Baharav Miara, and the head of the Israel Prison Service (IPS), Katy Perry, demanding an immediate reversal of the decision to cut off water and electricity  to the security wings of the prisons.


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The organizations sent the letter following a report by Ynet, an Israeli news outlet, that revealed a decision was made to disconnect the electricity supply to security wings in Israeli prisons, wings that hold almost exclusively Palestinians. The organizations have also received testimonies indicating that the water supply had been cut off. 


In the letter sent by Adalah attorney Nareman Shehadeh-Zoabi, the organizations argued that this policy constitutes a violation of the prisoners' constitutional right to dignity and is driven by vindictive motives under the pretext of a state of emergency. The organizations further argued that the cutting off of water and electricity supplies is a degrading and cruel practice amounting to torture, and it is part of a series of arbitrary decisions taken by the Israeli prison services against Palestnian prisoners in recent days. These include the cancellation of planned medical treatments, preventing meetings with lawyers, confining prisoners to their cells for extended periods, canceling family visits, and others. Furthermore, the organizations noted that they have received reports of violent mistreatment of prisoners, damage to their personal belongings, and the imposition of other sanctions, such as the confiscation of clothing, footwear,  and food that prisoners had bought on their own.


The organizations thus demanded the immediate cancellation of the decision to cut off the water and electricity supply, an urgent investigation into the allegations of abuse and violence against prisoners, and the immediate lifting of any restrictions on the right to meet with lawyers, establish contact and meetings with family members, and receive medical care.


Furthermore, the organizations demanded an end to other forms of arbitrary collective punishment, including restrictions on courtyard access, recreational activities, studies, and work. Finally, the organizations demanded that the IPS immediately publish the emergency policy upon which it operates.


Adalah commented:


"The Israel Prison Service has no authority to violate the fundamental rights of Palestinian prisoners solely for the purpose of fulfilling Minister Ben-Gvir's vindictive aspirations. The Attorney General must immediately instruct the minister and the IPS to cease these violations and initiate an investigation into all those involved in these actions carried out under the pretext of a state of emergency."


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