Palestinian Inmates Testify Israeli Guards Have Beaten Them After Jailbreak

Prisoners told police investigators they were repeatedly beaten in an alleged act of revenge perpetrated by the guards, a day after six inmates escaped from Gilboa Prison

Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner
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Members of the investigative committee on the Palestinian prisoner jailbreak at Gilboa P, last week.
Members of the investigative committee on the Palestinian prisoner jailbreak at Gilboa Prison, last week.Credit: Gil Eliahu
Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner

Testimony by Palestinian security prisoners, who were beaten in September by prison guards, has been given to police in what is suspected to be an act of revenge instigated by the guards in response to the escape of six prisoners the day before.

The prisoners were transferred from Gilboa Prison to Shata Prison in response to the jailbreak after a mentally disabled inmate in Gilboa poured hot water on a guard.

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The prisoners testified that guards at Shata told them: “There is no law or justice today.”

One of the prisoners who testified is Ahmad Qonba, who is under indictment for manslaughter and a number of counts of attempted murder, and is being held until the end of legal proceedings against him. He told investigators that after the incident in which a prisoner, who is known to be mentally ill, poured hot water on a guard, all the prisoners were moved into an empty room while handcuffed and “we were left that way for a few hours.”

The day after the escape, on the evening of September 7, they were transferred to Shata, “where some of the prisoners were barefoot.”

Qonba described what happened when he arrived at Shata Prison: “The guards lifted my cuffed hands behind me, and pushed us. Later they put iron handcuffs on my hands too.” After they left the vehicle that transported them, “an officer named Zaher hit me. He pulled me by the handcuffs and began hitting me brutally on the head, face, back and sides. He even kicked me in the area of my left eye, which remained swollen for a long time,” said Qonba.

He said he did not remember whether the officer used a baton, or just his hands, because of all the beating.

Per his testimony, the same officer later beat other prisoners, who also filed complaints against the guards, and then beat Qonba again. “He beat me in front of the guards and returned me to the wing,” and he remained barefoot for four days until he was brought clogs from the Prison Service.

Attorney Nadia Daqqa from Hamoked Center for the Defense of the Individual, who represents the prisoners who filed the complaints, wrote in a report concerning Qonba’s complaint that his description of the events demonstrates “especially violent behavior that was unjustified and significantly exceeds the regulations. It reaches the level of endangering the prisoner’s life, collective punishment and criminal behavior in every way.”

Other prisoners gave similar descriptions of the events, and said their cellmates were sprayed with pepper spray. None of the prisoners resisted, but all had bruises from being beaten, said one of them. Others said they were handcuffed, thrown on the floor and cursed, kicked and punched.

Another prisoner told the police one of the guards told him while he was on the floor: “I’ll make you kiss my feet.” Another said he was beaten all the way to Shata Prison: “There was one female guard who screamed at the guards who attacked, and she opposed what they were doing, but the other guards kept her away.”

The Israel Prison Service said, “The case is being handled by the national unit for the investigation of prison guards on suspicion of using violence against prisoners – and therefore, naturally, we are unable to comment.”

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