News / Middle East

Palestinians Open Israeli Jail Replica in Gaza

Palestinians visit prison cells in Gaza City that had been used by Israeli security services to keep Palestinian prisoners during Israel's occupation of Gaza Strip, April 11, 2013.
Palestinians visit prison cells in Gaza City that had been used by Israeli security services to keep Palestinian prisoners during Israel's occupation of Gaza Strip, April 11, 2013.
Reuters
Palestinians opened a replica of a former Israeli prison in Gaza on Tuesday to help illuminate the plight of 4,800 Palestinians jailed in Israel after weeks of protests that have triggered clashes in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Murals of famous leaders of Palestinian militant groups who were once held in the Saraya prison decorated walls at the site, along with a leather banner listing the names of 12 detainees who died in what locals dubbed "the slaughterhouse."

"Prisoner Day," an annual Palestinian national rite that commemorates the detainees, is set for Wednesday and more street violence with Israeli troops is anticipated.
        
Palestinians view compatriots held in Israel as heroes of  their struggle for statehood, whereas the Jewish state says many are guilty of killing or hurting innocents and the detentions guarantee its security.

A hunger strike by a handful of prisoners and the deaths of two inmates in custody this year have touched off deadly clashes with Israeli security forces that some analysts say could snowball into a third Palestinian uprising.

Saraya was refurbished and opened to visitors by Waed, a prisoners' association loyal to Hamas.

The ex-prison spans the fraught history of Palestine. It was built by British colonial authorities in 1936 only to be used in turn by Israel during its post-1967 occupation, the Palestinian Authority under a self-rule deal from 1994, and finally Hamas for a brief period after it seized control of Gaza in 2007.

Many of Saraya's original concrete cellblocks and interrogation rooms were destroyed over the years by Israeli air strikes during conflict with Palestinian militants. In their place, Waed built rows of tents it says resemble detention camps still in use in Israel's nearby Negev desert.

Waed spokesman Abdallah Qandil said he hoped anger over the prisoners' plight would lead to another "armed struggle."

"When I came in I was overcome by the memories and the feelings of suffering prisoners are undergoing," said Zeyad Jouda, a former detainee at Saraya who was guiding visitors."By being here I am conveying my story to people who are visiting to increase their solidarity with prisoners. We are trying to explain to them what detention and what the cells were like." Jouda spoke as he showed around some 40 local women.

Local authorities say 800,000 Palestinians have been detained under Israeli military orders since the 1967 war when Israel captured the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.

Palestinians want an independent state in those territories but negotiations with Israel have been frozen since 2010.

Allegations of torture have been directed against all of Saraya's former gatekeepers. Most recently, the Palestinian Fatah and Hamas movements accused each other of abusing fellow Palestinians there during their bloody rivalry.

Hamas says its militant attacks were key to making Israel withdraw from Gaza in 2005 and gaining the release of over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in 2011 in exchange for an Israeli soldier it held hostage.

Visitors to the site echoed this sense of triumphalism.

Salwa al-Mashharawi froze briefly at one of the prison room windows where she used to visit her two sons when they served time there during Israel's occupation. "I recalled the cries, the tears and the pain - but no regret," she said as women around her chanted, "God is Great."

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Natalie from: France
April 16, 2013 11:32 AM
LOL... oh God what a joke these people are!!! i feel that we need the Philistins for comic relief... yeah, they should be designated a "world heritage site" and put on the endangered species list along with the other comic idiots from Iran... and their famous jet that flies underground... LOL..!!!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs