Israel Secretly Detained Innocent Palestinians in Remote Desert Camps in Sinai

An investigative report reveals that hundreds of Gazans, including families of suspected Fatah terrorists, and young men not suspected of anything were jailed in detention camps in 1971 for almost a year

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The Red Cross visit the Abu Zenima camp in October, 1971.
The Red Cross visit the Abu Zenima camp in October, 1971.Credit: The Red Cross Archive
Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet

In 1971, under heavy secrecy, Israel built two detention camps in the Sinai Peninsula where innocent Palestinians were sent. One was used for the families of Fatah members who were suspected of terrorism, one was for unemployed young men.

Children, women and men were transported from the Gaza Strip by the Israeli army and put in improvised buildings in the middle of the desert. They spent various stretches there – sometimes even months – in conditions the Red Cross called “unbearable.” Less than a year later, both camps were closed and all the detainees were returned to Gaza.

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