Amin Abu Wardeh
Palestine News Network
January 10, 2009

Hundreds of Palestinians have become the captives of Israeli forces during the current military operation in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset and head of the parliamentary assembly, Dr. Jamal Zahalka, said Friday that the detainees were moved to a military camp northwest of the Israeli city of Beerseba.

Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Defense Minister, established the detention camp last Sunday.

When PNN first reported the story last week there were approximately 500 Palestinians in four detention camps throughout the Strip, however they have now been moved outside.

Zahalka noted that “most of the detainees are civilians, according to Israeli law.” He said, “The detainees from the Gaza Strip were not considered prisoners of war because they are not part of the regular army.” When the Israeli administration withdrew its settlers and military from inside the Gaza Strip in 2005, it enacted its own law that this meant that the occupation had come to and end. Under international law and the United Nations, the Israeli state remained the occupier. It is through the Israeli law that the status of the Palestinians taken from the Gaza Strip was established.

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Zahalka said that hundreds of families in Gaza who have been searching for their children do not know whether the Israeli army took them or they have been killed. He appealed to the Red Cross and Barak to disclose the names of the imprisoned Palestinians so that families can know the fate of their children.

The MP pointed out that Israeli soldiers are trying to capture the largest possible number of young people in the Gaza Strip in order to obtain information from them through coercion and torture. The Israeli administration is also using extortion and people as bartering tool with the Hamas government, despite the fact that the Israelis have imposed a news blackout on the subject.

There was limited footage shown of an Israeli soldier gingerly leading a row of bound Palestinians that was shot by embedded camera crews. Those are the foreign journalists who were “allowed into the Gaza Strip,” but only in the areas of Israeli ground troops. Foreign journalists are still banned by the Israeli administration from being among the people of the Strip. Another Palestinian journalist, Ala’ Murtaja, was killed last night when Israeli forces targeted a home in Gaza City’s Al Zeitoun neighborhood.

Information that is available indicates that there are hundreds of Palestinians who have been taken from Gaza during this period of attacks. The majority of them are over the age of 16. Again, Zahalka reiterated today, these Palestinians are not being treated as normal prisoners of the occupation of which there are 11,000.

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