Studies show that US coverage is Israeli-centric. The main bureaus for CNN, Associated Press, Time, etc. are located in Israel and often staffed by Israelis. The son of the NY Times bureau chief is in the Israeli army;"pundit" Jeffrey Goldberg served in the IDF; Wolf Blitzer worked for AIPAC. Because the U.S. gives Israel over $8 million/day - more than to any other nation - we feel it is essential that we be fully informed on this region. Below are news reports to augment mainstream coverage.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Interview: Palestinian women prisoners shackled during childbirth

Electronic Intifada - Female Palestinian prisoners detained in Israel are often denied legal representation and medical care while being housed in squalid conditions that can include sharing cells with rodents.

According to Fabrizia Falcione, a women's human rights officer for the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), now part of UN WOMEN, told IPS that it is crucial to reveal the human face behind this breach of international law and international humanitarian law in order to address the plight of Palestinian political prisoners, including women and children.

Since 1967, more than 700,000 Palestinians have been arrested or detained in Israeli prisons and detention centers. Approximately 10,000 of these prisoners were women.

Today, 37 female Palestinian prisoners continue to be held in Israeli prisons -- out of a total of about 7,500 inmates. The reason is primarily political -- most of the prisoners are members of the Palestinian Legislative Council.

Falcione's work includes providing legal aid and representation to female prisoners, psychosocial support to family members of prisoners, and preparation for release and reintegration of prisoners into family and society.

This week Falcione participated in the first international meeting of its kind organized by the United Nations to focus on the question of Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli detention. During the two-day meet she took time out to talk to IPS about the absolute urgency of specifically addressing the rights of female prisoners.

IPS: You talk of physical and psychological problems faced by female prisoners. What do you mean?

FF: There is medical neglect and lack of specialized medical services for the prevention and treatment of illnesses of women.

The female prisoners at present are mainly incarcerated in two Israeli facilities in Hasharon and Damon -- both of them located outside the occupied [West Bank and Gaza Strip], in violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Former Palestinian female prisoners in both these prisons and family members of women currently in prison say that the cells are infested with insects, particularly cockroaches as well as rodents. A former inmate released a few months ago said, "No matter how hard I try to describe the cell to you, I cannot. It is like an underground grave ... There are so many insects in the cell, the mattresses and cover sheet were damp and smelled awful. Sewage was overflowing. I could barely make my ablutions to pray."

Beyond general healthcare there is no gynecological support. Women require medical attention regularly, which is their right during confinement as recognized by CEDAW [the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women].

The great majority of Palestinian women political prisoners in Israeli prisons suffer from various health problems.....

IPS: Is it true that pregnant women are shackled during childbirth?

FF: It is true. Pregnant women are shackled while giving birth, and soon after. There is a total lack of medical care, particularly during childbirth. Women lament that infants born to them are taken away after two years. In Israeli prisons, the rights of Palestinian women prisoners is recognized, but not respected....
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