[31 January 2024] - In late January, the Israel Prison Service (IPS) released detention data for the final quarter of 2023. As at the end of December 2023, the IPS data indicates there were 8,308 Palestinian men, women and children being held as "security prisoners" - an increase of 72 percent compared to the end of September. The data also shows that the Palestinian child detainees released as part of the prisoner exchange deal in November, were replaced with a fresh supply of child detainees by December - continuing the cycle of incarceration for the civilian population living under a never-ending military occupation.
Significantly, there has been a spike in the number of children held without charge or trial in administrative detention
since 7 October. In the 16 years prior to October 2023, an average of 3.6 children were held in administrative detention each year - since 7 October 2023 this number has risen to 46 children - an increase of 1,178 percent. The data also establishes that since 7 October, 51 percent of child detainees and 73 percent of adults continue to be unlawfully transferred
from the occupied West Bank in violation of international law
- a policy introduced in 1967 and affecting up to 32,000 children to date.
Immediately following the Hamas attacks of 7 October, Israeli prisons holding Palestinian "security prisoners" were placed in lock down and IPS regulations
regarding cell capacity were suspended. Accordingly, family visits and phone calls
have been suspended, and access by lawyers restricted
. Children have reported
that the number of detainees per cell has, in some cases, doubled (from 6 to 12 prisoners) resulting in overcrowding with some children sleeping on the floor.
Since 7 October, a marked deterioration in prison conditions has been reported
. Common complaints include: an increase in the level of violence by prison guards including punching, beatings with batons
, tear gassing
of cells and dog attacks
; denial of medical care
food; limited access to cold showers; confiscation of clothes
, including shoes; confiscation of personal hygiene items; limited access to exercise; a suspension of education
; no access to television
, radio or other electrical appliances including heaters
and washing machines
; and no access to the prison shop
. One boy reports
that the glass panes were removed from the windows in his cell as winter approached.
Hearings in the military courts have been largely limited to interlocutory hearings with few trials. Generally proceedings are conducted via Zoom and family members and outside observers are denied entry - increasing the sense of fear and uncertainty among families. Since October 7, ICRC visits to detention facilities have been restricted. Meanwhile, Israel's newly appointed acting IPS Commissioner, Kobi Ya'akobi, a close associate of the Minister for National Security, Itamar Ben-Gvir, is reported
to support even harsher conditions for Palestinian detainees, including children.