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Israel's Barbaric Solitary Confinement

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Israel's Bar Association Report

On December 27, Haaretz writer Tomer Zarchin headlined, "Groundbreaking report details Israel's inhumane conditions for isolated prisoners," saying:

"A classified report by the Israeli Bar Association (IBA) obtained by Haaretz provides a glimpse into the harrowing conditions prisoners separated from the main jail population must endure."

Ayalon and Shikma prison isolation wings aren't fit for human habitation and "look more like a dungeon, (while) most (Israeli) solitary cells in (are) crammed, rancid with smells of sewer and mold, and infested with insects."

According to IBA criminal law head Moran Kabalo:

"It's difficult to ignore the feeling that isolation as practiced today serves a function of punishment rather than imprisonment....This is a unilateral instrument of punishment used primarily against organized crime groups." Also routinely against Palestinians, especially human rights activists.

Based on a year-long review, including direct with inmates, the report explained that:

"Many isolated inmates testified to have developed paranoia, a tendency for uncontrollable fits of rage, and eyesight problems because of the lack of natural light through most hours of the day."

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Yet Israel's Prison Service Commission orders allow isolation only as a last resort, such as:

-- "the security of the prison;

-- preventing real damage to the discipline and normal life in the prison;

-- protecting the well-being or health of the prisoner or of other prisoners; and

-- protecting the security of the state."

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Yet Israel, like America, uses it punitively, making it excruciatingly harsh for extra pain, amounting to sustained torture, cruel, and inhumane treatment. Isolation wings are separate from other areas where inmates are divided into subgroups, including:

-- those posing a high escape risk;

-- others who may be harmed by other prisoners; and

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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