elements, who are interested in a situation inimical to genuine dialogue and coexistence, are moreover in keeping with Israel’s efforts to promote prospects for peace negotiations. These talks would also determine the final status of Judea-Samaria The scope and suddenness of the turbulent developments in the territories found the existing prison facilities inadequate. The need to handle a large number of prisoners individuals who had been active in the rioting, or who had acted, openly or behind the scenes, to prolong and intensify the violence necessitated the opening of a new facility at Ketziot in Southern Israel. With the quick establishment of Ketziot prison, not all problems pertaining to living conditions were immediately resolved, although at the outset every effort was made to insure proper conditions. With time the situation has improved. While life in any prison is never easy, a fair look at the conditions at Ketziot shows that the authorities are doing everything possible to meet the needs of the prisoners. A few examples: Water, stored in huge tanks which are refilled three times a day is available on prisoner per day; shower facilities, latrines, and water faucets are available from 5:30 a.m. until 10 p.m. Meals are provided three times a day. Based on the Israeli military diet, they are prepared by the prisoners according to their own tastes. Fresh foodstuffs are supplied, and special food items and spices are also regularly provided. Medical care is provided by a doctor and medical staff who are present at the prison facility. The prisoners are also entitled to dental care. For the sake of personal hygiene, each prisoner is regularly issued his own bar of soap, toothpaste, laundry soap, and soap for cleaning eating utensils. Family visits. Each prisoner is entitled to visits by members of his family, who must first submit their request to the authorities in their district. Transportation is also arranged. \(However, extremist elements burnt one of the buses, and family members have refused to submit requests Sleeping conditions. In each tent, there are up to 28 prisoners, who have mattresses to put on wooden structures. Each prisoner is also allocated five blankets. Legal procedures. Every prisoner has the right to appeal his detention, and petitions regarding conditions in the prison are submitted to the Supreme Court by attorneys representing the prisoners. A legal advisor is permanently present and the advocate of the Israel Defense Forces Southern Command visits the facility at least twice a week. The IDF Chief Advocate’s office oversees the proper implementation of legal procedures. During the last several months, the prison facility has been visited by members of Israel’s Legislature, the Knesset, representatives of the domestic and international media, and representatives of various human rights organizations in addition to the visits of the Red Cross and the fact that the facility is subject to the inspection of the state ombudsman. On September 1, three Israel Supreme Court Justices visited the Ketziot prison facility. Their purpose was to obtain a firsthand view of conditions there following a complaint submitted to the High Court of Justice by 17 security prisoners. During the visit, which took more than five hours, they spoke with prison officials and inmates. This accessibility to a security prison during a time of crisis is unique in the history of nations, including democratic societies which have, in the past, felt the need to take similar measures against threats to their own security. This openness and scrutiny, especially by Israel’s legislative and executive branches, as well as by the highest judicial authority in the land, is in keeping with Israel’s democratic character and with the recognition that, while measures must be taken to contain the threat to public safety and order, satisfactory standards must be maintained for the prisoners. Ketziot was established to meet immediate security needs and a problem which Israel hopes will be resolved as soon as possible. By restraining those who agitate for violence and engage in it, Israel is seeking to defuse a volatile situation. An end to the violence and movement towards peace will eliminate the need for places like Ketziot. Mordekhai Artzieli Houston \(The writer is the Consul General of Israel Harrington Responds It is ironic that Mr. Artzieli chose to respond to my column when his government refused to meet with us in Israel, even at the behest of the U.S. embassy. True, our delegation, as a group, could not visit the prison camp in Ketziot not because we didn’t try. but because the Israeli government refused to let us. That’s hardly our fault, and it’s disingenuous for Mr. Artzieli to argue that point against us. In fact, shouldn’t we be entitled to presume that Israel has something to hide? However, as I mentioned before, one of our delegation did visit the prison facility nicknamed “Ansar III” surreptitiously with an Israeli attorney and verified the horror accounts we learned from our own interviews with numerous former detainees. What Mr. Artzieli artfully fails to mention when he says that human rights organizations and international media have visited Ansar III is that every such group condemned the camp, including the members from the Knesset, most European countries and the United States. Our findings were entirely consistent with theirs and those recently released by Amnesty International. Sure, a prisoner held without proof of guilt can “appeal his detention”; but the “appeal” is to a military official, without semblance of trial; there is no right of appeal to the civil courts not even to Israel’s High Court, which has decided that it lacks jurisdiction in “military” matters. Mr. Artzieli’s food for prisoners which is “based on Israeli military diet” is actually rations with years-old expiration dates, which are often spoiled. Indeed, families can visit the detainees; but they must know the prisoner’s number because the military will not “recognize” his name; and, because Ketziot is inside Israel proper, relatives must hire an Israeli bus and driver for the fourto six-hour drive, prove that their taxes are paid \(i.e. , that they are not engaged in passive nearby town. Hardly a benign policy. Mr. Artzieli forgets to mention that the prisoners’ “mattresses” are on wooden slabs, inches above the ground, in openair tents and exposed to insects, vipers, and other vicissitudes of the desert. I could go on, but this should make my point. Finally, many, many of the detainees are not violent, and certainly not terrorists. They are doctors, lawyers, professors, pharmacists, and Red Crescent executives community leaders who disagree profoundly with Israel’s repressive policies. The proof is that Israel refuses to give the detainees a public trial with due process. A public trial would show the world, and force Israel to admit, that the detainees are political prisoners, pure and simple, and subjected to inhumane treatment. Since I wrote my article, Israel has disbanded professional organizations for West Bank lawyers and doctors, dissolved charitable institutions, and abolished community-run vocational programs. Its military has killed 40 more Palestinian civilians. And prisoners at Ansar III went on a hunger strike and rebelled, with at least one being killed. Israel must come to realize that its internal security is as much threatened by abusing human rights as it is by bullets. James C. Harrington Austin FOR LIBERAL PORTIONS AT CONSERVATIVE PRICES * REMEMBER SCHOLZ GARDEN * * 1607 San Jacinto * 477-4171 * THE TEXAS OBSERVER 21
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