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Women’s day protest about G4S

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international women's day, london, protest, G4S, women and girls, prisons, Israel, PalestineIsrael holds imprisoned 61 Palestinian female political prisoners including 13 young girls.

Activists from human rights groups blockaded one of the entrances of Thales UK arms factory in Crawley, West Sussex, for nearly two hours recently to protest at the company’s collaboration with Israeli arms giant Elbit Systems in the manufacture of drones.

An industrial gases supply tanker and other vehicles were forced to use other entrances to enter and leave the factory compound.

The protest was part of a larger protest starting on 8 April by Sussex Stop Arming Israel Campaign in response to a Palestinian-lead call for a comprehensive two-way arms embargo against Israel.

That in turn follows a protest held on International Women’s Day, 11 March, that took outside the Palace of Westminster, the seat of the British government, to draw attention to the plight of Palestinian women and young girls who are caged and routinely abused in Israeli prisons.

Rigths group Inminds reports that ‘since 1967 over 15,000 women have been abducted and caged in Israeli occupation prisons’.

Today Israel holds imprisoned 61 Palestinian female political prisoners including 13 young girls, some as young as 12 years old.

Inminds reports that at least three of the girls have been brutally tortured during interrogation; 14 year-old Rama Jaabis, 16 year-old Malak Salman and 16 year-old Sajida Hassan have all suffered similar mistreatment, being forced to lie on the floor, shackled and then brutally beaten and abused by interrogators.

Another girl, 16 year-old Marah Bakeer, was shot 10 times in the arm whilst on her way to school , then she was then stripped of her clothes to her underwear and soldiers took selfie photographs with her against her will as she lay in a pool of blood. Her wounds were not allowed to heal and she was imprisoned even though she was in need of medical care.

Twelve year-old Dima Wawi was abducted on her way to school. Her parents were not allowed to see her and she was interrogated in contravention of international law without the presence of her parents or a lawyer. When her parents finally saw her at military court nearly two weeks later, she was still wearing the same school uniform she had on when she was arrested.

In November 2015, the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, passed a law that authorised longer prison sentences for children convicted of throwing stones and that allows the government to suspend social welfare payments to their families while the children serve their sentences.

Among the women prisoners are Palestinian human rights lawyer Shireen Issawi, who is being persecuted simply for defending Palestinian political prisoners; the military court sentenced her to 4 year’s imprisonment for her work with Palestinian prisoners.

Palestinian Members of Parliament are also regularly targeted. Khalida Jarrar is serving a 15-month sentence for her work in support of Palestinian prisoners.

The longest-serving woman prisoner, Inminds reports, is Lena Jarbouni, who has so far been caged for 14 years of a 17 year-sentence, her crime was to support the just struggle against the illegal occupation of her land. To extract her forced confession they threatened to torture her elderly mother, after having already tortured her brother and sister in front of her.

Mona Qadan, a university lecturer, was targeted and imprisoned because of her activism against the occupation, was not allowed to see her family in over 3 years.

On the way to the Palace of Westminster protest, campaigners heard that Mona Qadan had finally been released. The first thing she did upon her freedom was to hold a press conference and appeal on behalf of the young Palestinian girls caged by Israel.

Most of the women are held in Israel’s notorious HaSharon prison.

And there are repeated reports that at HaSharon Palestinian women prisoners have to endure beatings, insults, threats, sexually explicit harassment and sexual violence, and humiliation at the hands of Israeli guards.

Women prisoners are often forced to undergo degrading strip searches during the middle of the night – forced to squat naked and subjected to intrusive internal body searches, for no reason other than as a punitive measure.

Women have been beaten and left tied to their beds for a day and a half and not allowed to go to the toilet as punishment for spilling water.

The cells at HaSharon prison are overcrowded, dirty and infected with rodents and cockroaches.

There is a total absence of basic hygiene, women have even been denied sanitary pads when menstruating.

The heat is unbearable. The windows are closed and covered so that hardly any air or daylight can enter.

The food is insufficient, and of inferior quality and dirty, often containing insects and worms, at times there are not enough portions for all the women.

The security system at HaSharon is provided by the controversial British security company G4S. They provide the entire security system for the prison, including the central command room from where the whole prison is controlled.

In March G4S announced its intention to sell its Israel operation within the next 12-24 months.

The announcement follows an intensive four year global campaign targeting G4S over its complicity in Israeli violations of Palestinian rights and continued abuses around the world.

G4S provides equipment and services to Israeli prisons where Palestinian political prisoners are held in violation of international law, often held without charge or trial, and subject to torture.

G4S also provides equipment to Israeli military checkpoints along the illegal Apartheid Wall.

But this is not the first time G4S had made such a promise, and in the past it has not kept it, and protesters and speakers on International Women’s Day said they don’t want G4S’s promises. They want G4S to take action, to go – and they want it now.

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