A newly released video footage has shown Israeli prison guards brutally assaulting Palestinian prisoners inside a notorious detention facility at the large Negev desert region in the southern part of the Israeli-occupied territories.
Security cameras documented the attack on 55 shackled Palestinian prisoners linked to Hamas resistance movement. The assault was reportedly carried out on March 24, 2019.
The footage, published by the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz, shows several Israeli guards throwing prisoners, one by one, to the floor, while swarming around them, kicking, punching and beating them with batons.
Haaretz said that Palestinian prisoners’ hands were tied behind their backs, and they were commanded not to move or speak, and left tied on the ground for hours in a yard opposite a row of prisoners’ tents.
At least 10 Israeli jailers are seen assaulting the Palestinian prisoners.
An official at the Israel Prison Service, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Israeli daily that it was “one of the most violent incidents in Israeli prisons”.
Haaretz said Israeli prison officials claim the incident was prompted by the stabbing of two jailers.
No confrontations between prisoners and jailers can be seen on the footage, according to the daily, noting that 15 Palestinian prisoners were transferred to Soroka hospital for treatment after the incident. Two of the injured Palestinian inmates were in serious condition.
Amir Salloum, a 26-year-old Palestinian from Shufaat neighborhood in the Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds, told Haaretz that while he was waiting to be transferred from Section 4 to 3, he heard someone shouting “stabbing, stabbing”.
“A few minutes later, prison guards from the Metzada unit came and started firing metal bullets at us. We fled to the outskirts of the section,” he added.
Salloum said another special unit joined forces with Metzada.
“They tied us up and no one resisted that. Then they started beating us with batons. They threw us in the middle of the section as if we were nothing, and they beat us even though we weren't able to defend ourselves. They broke my jaw, my teeth and my nose,” Salloum said.
Salloum added he was sent to the hospital after he started bleeding, but was also beaten on the way to get treatment.
“We were sure that they would kill us there. Everyone prayed to God,” he said.
Palestinian prisoners said that they knew the faces of the Israeli guards involved in the assault, who also reportedly shouted racial slurs at them and ignored their appeals to stop.
Thirteen prisoners have complained about the incident to Israeli authorities.
This is while only four of the Israeli guards have been investigated by Lahav 433, which is purportedly a crime-fighting umbrella organization within the Israel Police.
Back in March 2019, Palestinian prisoners protested against the installation of jamming devices by Israeli officials to prevent them from using smuggled phones - sometimes the only means to contact their relatives.
An Israeli special unit, called Metzada, raided the Negev prison at the time and placed some prisoners in individual cells. Some of the Palestinian inmates were hospitalized.
Palestinian prisoners launched a hunger strike and reached a deal the following month with Israeli authorities to install landline phones inside prisons and release inmates who were held in solitary confinement.
More than 7,000 Palestinian prisoners are currently held in some 17 Israeli jails, with dozens of them serving multiple life sentences.
Over 350 detainees, including women and minors, are under Israel’s administrative detention.
The administrative detention, which is a form of imprisonment without trial or charge, allows authorities to incarcerate Palestinians for up to six months. The duration could be extended for an infinite number of times.
Some prisoners have been held in administrative detention for up to 11 years.