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

Video Obama Announces Plan to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama details troop deployment and other pieces of US plan More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa 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.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid