[The following English-language appeal, dated 2 November 1988, was sent to us by the Women’s Organization for Women Political Prisoners, a committee of women recently set up in Israel, devoted to defending the rights of women political prisoners, both Palestinian and Israeli.]

Dear Friend,

The purpose of this newsletter is to make the Israeli and international public aware of the plight of women political prisoners in Israel. It is hoped that heightened awareness will generate public protest about the conditions in which political prisoners are held; will arouse public action for the improvement of those conditions; and will influence the Israeli authorities to change their intransigent attitude in regard to their treatment.

FOOD. Diet consists mainly of carbohydrates and includes no fruit and very little meat and vegetables. The food is inadequate and inedible, being unclean and often rotten, and containing small stones, insects and worms. All the prisoners are very malnourished.

HEALTH. A number of prisoners suffer from serious health problems (see the cases of Rukaya and Aitaf below) and none of them receive any proper medical attention. Physical examinations are [made] rarely, if at all, and Acamol (an aspirin-based painkiller) is dispensed for virtually every aliment.


  1. In detention centres such as the Russian Compound in Jerusalem and Jalameh in Haifa, there have been frequent and repeated cases of assaults and torture by officials of SHABAK (Israel Secret Service). On October 18, Souad Marara, Manal Majhed and Akram Abu-Sbeih, all 17 years old, and two others about whom we have no [further] inform­ation, were brutally beaten with clubs and seriously injured. Souad has developed grave hearing problems which she did not have previously. Manal was spat on, had her hair pulled, her hands were tied together with a rope, and she was beaten all over her body, her breasts and neck. She was also tied to a board and Border Police[man] jumped on her. For seven hours, from 5PM to midnight, she and the others were kept standing on one leg, while the other leg was raised and tied to a door-handle.
  2. Families are not permitted to supply prisoners with supplementary food and basic toiletries. Prisoners therefore have to purchase their requirements in the prison canteen, which is open only once a fortnight, if at all.
  3. During weekly visits, about 30 people are crammed together into a room 2 by 4 metre. There is thus no privacy or personal contact, and the ensuing noise makes conversation almost inaudible.

Profiles of some of the prisoners

1. Inshirah Sabah of Jenin, aged 30 years, mother of a three-year-old child, is being held, without having been charged, in administrative deten­tion under the Emergency Regulations. Her appeal for release was heard three months after she had filed it, on October 16, and was refused. She developed gynaecological problems for which she received treatment only two months later. She has been granted a reprieve of one month, and will thus have served five, instead of the mandatory six, months.

2. Souad Marara of East Jerusalem, aged 17 years, was arrested on June 22 for throwing stones and hitting the front bumper of a vehicle. On October 16, she was sentenced to seven months’ imprisonment, plus a fine of NIS 3,000 [about $1,875], or a total of 13 months. As it is not likely that she will be able to pay the fine, she will probably have to serve the full term of her sentence.

3. Akram Abu-Sbeih of East Jerusalem, aged 17 years, was arrested on July 3. On October 20, she too was sentenced to seven months’ imprison­ment plus a fine of NIS 3,000, or a total of 13 months. As she too is not likely to be able to pay this fine, she will also probably have to serve the full term of her sentence. Akram’s crime was throwing one empty bottle which injured no-one and damaged nothing!

4. Aitaf Alian of the Bethlehem area, aged 24 years, was arrested on August 2, 1987 and has not yet been brought to trial. At the time of her arrest, she was tortured and her nose was broken, as a result of which she experiences considerable difficulty in breathing. She has been in solitary confinement since July 2, 1988. On August 30, she went on hunger strike against her detention in solitary confinement and demanded to be permitted to join other political prisoners. She subsisted on water and salt, [and] lost 5kg in weight. She developed a kidney complaint, for which she has received no medical treatment. On September 4, she was promised that she would be removed from solitary confinement, but this promise has, to date, not been fulfilled. The Association for Civil Rights is filing an appeal against her continued illegal detention in solitary confinement.

5. Rukaya Abu-Samhadan is 60 years of age and suffers from high blood pressure which has already caused partial paralysis. She also has arthritis and a dislocated disc. On September 8, she was examined by a medical officer on the International Red Cross who advised that she should be hospitalized immediately, but to date this has not been done. She receives medication, although she has had no medical check-up.

Munira Daoud in the Nablus military court, May 1988 (photo: Ehud Ein-Gil)

6. Munira Daoud of Beita, aged 22 years, was arrested on April 6, the day on which her brother was killed in her village by a settler, and her family’s home was demolished. When Munira saw her brother being killed, she threw a stone at his assailant. She has been sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment. Munira, a mother of three small children, is eight months pregnant, and due to the poor quality and inadequate quantity of the food, is severely undernourished and in poor physical health. She receives no medical care and is permitted no extra exercise. Munira is due to be released in December of this year. We urge you to join us in demanding her immediate release so that her baby will not be born in jail.

7. Roni Ben-Efrat and Michal Schwatz, imprisoned at Neve-Tirtzah, have been continually harassed, abused, spat on and cursed by warders and criminal prisoners. They demanded to be transferred to Hasharon prison, where political prisoners are held, but their demand has been rejected. Roni and Michal, who are Jewish, feel that the reason for their being kept separate from the other women political prisoners, who are Palestinians, is a racist one.


If you are able to help us in any way whatsoever, please contact us. If you would like to adopt a political prisoner, to write to her, to send her food, clothes, whatever, please contact us.

If you would like to receive any further information, please contact us.

Women’s Organization for Women Political Prisoners,

Tel-Aviv & Jerusalem


Write to a Political Prisoner

The following prisoners will be pleased to receive personal letters. Please note that they are allowed to send only one letter per week. This letter normally goes to their children or immediate family. In spite of the fact that you might not receive an answer, please rest assured that your encouragement is being received with much joy and excitement.

Write to: Miriam Siada, Roni Ben-Efrat, Michal Schwartz ‒ c/o Neve-Tirtzah Prison, Ramleh, Israel

Write to: Kifah Kahil, Marwa Katmira, Ataf Alian, Fatyma Abu-Bakra, Rola Abu-Dakhu, Suad Muhammad Mar’a, Jenan al-Bitar, Naila Ibrahim Zakut, Susan Hassan Muhammad Abu-Kersh, Lamia Ma’ruf, Zahra Karush, Fadwa ‘Abbasi, Ghana Tawfiq Sha’ban ‒ c/o Hasharon Prison, Even-Yehuda, Israel