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Mother's Day: Palestinian women prisoners demand rights in Israeli jails

In a letter, female prisoners said despite the 'forced confinement' they are still attached to their lives and motherhood 'in a manner that befits every Palestinian mother'
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) member Khalida Jarrar hugs a supporter following her release from an Israeli jail, 28 February 2019 (AFP)
Former prisoner and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) member Khalida Jarrar hugs a supporter following her release from an Israeli jail, 28 February 2019 (AFP)

Palestinian prisoners monitoring group called on Israel to uphold the rights of female Palestinian inmates on Monday, as dozens of women marked Mother's Day in Israeli jails, where they face harsh conditions.

Women's rights groups must raise their voices to end the suffering of Palestinian female prisoners, the Palestinian Authority's prisoners' affairs commission said in a statement. 

"Palestinian women are still paying a heavy price with their lives and their families as a result of the continuation of this occupation and its inhuman and immoral practices," it said. 

There are 31 Palestinian women imprisoned in Israel, including 10 mothers. 

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The prisoners' commission said that women prisoners in the Damon jail demanded the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) install a landline phone to call their relatives.

Prisoners also called for the hiring of a female doctor instead of a male practitioner to check them; an end to the solitary confinement policy; and increasing the type of products sold in the prison's canteen.

Some women in Israeli jails, such as Shorouq al-Badan and Israa Jaabis, have been barred from meeting and hugging their children, according to Wafa news agency.

In a joint letter, female prisoners in Damon jail said on Mother's Day - held on 21 March in the Arab world - that despite the forced confinement they are still attached to their lives and motherhood "in a manner that befits every Palestinian mother."

"We're united with Palestinian mothers and the women fighters worldwide to defend our rights and our children's rights to a dignified life and in obtaining freedom and independence," they wrote in a letter published by Palestinian media.

"We salute the mothers of Palestine, especially the mothers whose hearts beat with the beats of their wounded and imprisoned sons and daughters, the mothers who bid farewell to their martyred sons, the mothers who defended the land, the home and the school," they added.

"And we say to our daughters that while this prison deprives us of physical contact with you, the messages of your love reach us with sure and continuous love."

There are 4,400 Palestinian prisoners currently held in Israeli jails, including 490 in administrative detention, according to the Addameer prisoners' rights group.

Palestinian prisoners in administrative detention have been boycotting Israeli military courts for nearly 80 days in protests of their arbitrary incarceration without charges.

The highly controversial policy, used almost exclusively against Palestinians, allows for detention without charge or trial for renewable periods of three to six months, without the possibility of appeal or knowing what accusations are being levelled against the detained.

Many Palestinian prisoners have resorted to hunger strikes to protest against the policy.