War on Gaza: Palestinians are crammed into intolerably overcrowded cells in Israeli prisons, report says

War on Gaza: Palestinians are crammed into intolerably overcrowded cells in Israeli prisons, report says

An official Israeli report indicates that prisons in a state of emergency have received thousands of new prisoners since the start of the war.

The Israeli public defender’s office released a report on Tuesday stating that some Israeli prisons have been declared in a state of emergency due to severe overcrowding.

According to the report, since the war began on October 7, at least 3,400 people have been imprisoned.

Overcrowding has led to the violation of the human rights of those imprisoned, many of whom are forced to sleep on the floor.

During a visit by members of the public defender’s office, squalid conditions were found, including “intolerable overcrowding”, with less than three square meters of space per person, poor sanitary conditions, pest problems , inadequate ventilation and a lack of basic necessities for incarcerated people.

The report says overcrowding causes stress and anxiety, which can sometimes cause unnecessary friction in cells.

A statement from the public defender’s office said it witnessed an “unprecedented prison crisis, in which inmates and prisoners were crowded into inhumane living spaces.”

He added that nearly half of those incarcerated in Israel are held in harsh conditions that do not meet the High Court’s “first step” on living space, which states that they must be held in a space of at least three square meters.

Overcrowding and squalid conditions

Before the start of the war, Israeli prisons held 16,353 Palestinian detainees, a surplus of around 2,000 people. Today, the number of prisoners has increased to at least 20,113 people.

About 13 prisoners are held in a single cell, and people often have to sleep on mattresses on the floor due to a lack of beds.

Toilets are also located in each cell, with the shower above it, leaving a bad smell in the very area where prisoners eat.

Prisoners reported a “still noticeable problem with parasites entering the cell through the sewer holes,” while others said the prisons were full of mold and walls were peeling.

At the Jerusalem detention center, staff members said around 230 people were being held while the prison’s maximum capacity is 170 people.

Electricity is also cut off for long periods, forcing prisoners to eat in the dark.

Since the start of the war, prisoners have not been allowed to go out into the courtyard, which prevents them from seeing sunlight for several days in a row.

The report also states that approximately 40% of those incarcerated in Israeli prisons have been arbitrarily detained.

Israel’s security agency, known as Shin Bet, responded to the report by stating that “since the start of the war, the prison administration has been operating in a state of emergency, housing thousands of prisoners for reasons of security and crime”.

The Shin Bet added that it had asked officials to expand the prisons.

Translation: AFPS