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Home ยป ‘We Were Treated Like Dogs’: Freed Palestinian Prisoners Complain Of Mistreatment

‘We Were Treated Like Dogs’: Freed Palestinian Prisoners Complain Of Mistreatment

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We’ve seen Israel’s hostages coming home in a blaze of coverage, but very little of Palestinian prisoners returning to Jerusalem as part of the truce.

There’s a good reason for that. The Israeli police in Jerusalem don’t want the homecomings filmed, celebrated or becoming the focus of gatherings and potential unrest.

In the narrow lanes of Silwan, in the shadow of Jerusalem’s Old City ramparts, paramilitary border police were out in force.

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We tried to reach one house where four boys were being returned to one family. “Not now,” we were told before being firmly moved on.

The area is predominantly Arab and the scene of frequent unrest.

Image: Ghannam Abu Ghannam was detained a year ago, charged with throwing stones at a bus The neon blue stars of Jewish settlement buildings shine out from among the homes of Palestinians who resent their presence and the fact that the city spends millions less on their neighbourhoods than the majority Jewish west of the city.

To suppress that unrest the Israeli police routinely round up and detain teenage boys after clashes between them.

Israel has a controversial policy of administrative detention when suspects can be held for six months without trial or detention.

Image: Ghannam hugs his mother Twenty-one of the 39 prisoners released in Sunday’s third hostage prisoner exchange were from East Jerusalem and have been returned there.

We moved on to another prisoner’s family’s home but this time filmed from a distance until the police moved on. Inside we found the Abu Ghannam family as they welcomed home their 17-year-old son.

Ghannam Abu Ghannam was detained a year ago, charged with throwing stones at a bus. He has never been convicted, his family say. He’s now been released as part of the Gaza truce.

“It’s a gift from God,” his mother told Sky News. “It’s as if it’s a miracle.”

Israel says the minors it’s releasing as part of the truce are terrorists, but Palestinians say many are youths held without sentence for what other countries would regard as civil disorder offences.

Ghannam told Sky News prison had become much worse since the Hamas attacks on 7 October.

“Prison was humiliating. They came in and beat us ever since the war began and we were treated like dogs.”

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Other prisoners released over this truce were being held for more serious offences.

Image: Shorouk Dwayatt said conditions in the jail where she was held had worsened after 7 October Shorouk Dwayatt is out after serving half a 16-year sentence for stabbing an Israeli and attempting to stab another in Jerusalem’s Old City in 2015.

Her trial heard claims she had posted on Facebook of her yearning to become a martyr.

Her family claim she was acting in self defence after one of the men accosted her and tried to pull off her head scarf before shooting her.

She told Sky News she would train now to become a lawyer to help other Palestinian victims of Israel’s occupation.

Image: Shorouk now says she wants to train to become a lawyer She said conditions in the jail had worsened after 7 October and claimed male guards had hit and persecuted female prisoners.

She said she fears the Israelis might try and lock her up again.

“My biggest fear is to be arrested again because they’ve already threatened me with that and it’s possible that the house could be invaded at any moment.”

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Prominent Palestinian prisoner released Israa Jaabis had been imprisoned since 2015 after being convicted of a bomb attack that wounded an Israeli police officer and left her with severe burns on her face and hands.

She had been sentenced to 11 years behind bars for the attack, but was also released as part of the exchange.

Greeting her family, Israa said: “I am shy to hug him (her son) because he became a man, when he tells me ‘my mum’ I have him back as a small child in my eyes.”

Describing conditions within the prison she was held in, she said: “Women prisoners are in a bad situation, really, and the Arab-Israeli women they don’t know about the prisoner’s movements and they don’t know how to behave with their jailers.”

There are thought to be around 7,000 Palestinians in Israeli jails, 2,000 of them in administrative detention. Hundreds more have been arrested and jailed since the war began.