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:: Article nr. 37483 sent on 24-oct-2007 13:35 ECT
“They murdered him in cold blood”
Palestinian prisoners sit inside the remains of a burnt tent in Ketziot prison
October 23, 2007
A Palestinian political prisoner who on Monday was shot in the head by an Israeli prison guard at the notorious desert detention camp, Kitziot, has died of his wounds.
The prisoner is Muhammed Sati al Ashkar, of the village of Sida near Tulkarm and a father of a 2-year-old child. He had been sentenced to three and a half years for opposing the Israeli occupation. He was to be released from prison after three months.
Al-Ashkar was shot by Israeli prison guards early Monday when so-called anti-riot police indiscriminately opened fire on prisoners who were peacefully protesting humiliating and provocative Israeli raids, including stripping inmates of their clothes and carrying out midnight searches and frisking, which prisoners say are intended to insult their dignity and sense of honor.
The Israeli prison authority, a tool of the Shin Beth, Israel’s domestic security agency, claimed that al-Ashkar was killed during "riots" in which some security guards were also injured.
However, eyewitnesses and prisoners dismissed the Israeli accounts as "sheer lies aimed at justifying murder."
"We are talking about hundreds of helpless prisoners, with no means of self-defense, attacked and tormented by crack soldiers armed to the teeth.
"The Zionist soldiers simply acted like ferocious animals, like the Gestapo and SS. They showered us with bullets, stun grenades, and gas and smoke bombs," said Abu Muhammed, a detainee, using a smuggled mobile phone.
Abu Muhammed described the killing of al-Ashkar as a deliberate crime.
He said he didn’t trust the Israeli justice system, saying the Israeli justice system would deal with the perpetrators the same way the Nazi justice system dealt with the Gestapo and SS killers.
Israel on Tuesday issued a vague and largely concocted account of the incident, giving the impression that there was a clash and the prison guards were only defending themselves.
However, international observers in the Occupied Territories issued a press release Tuesday detailing what happened at the Kitziot prison:
"On October 22ed, at two in the morning, Israeli prison guards from Kitziot prison in the Negev desert began searching the tents and belongings of Palestinian prisoners. Searching prisoners’ tents in the middle of the night is a classic form of harassment; keeping people from sleeping. Some prisoners resisted the search due to early hour and the army responded by throwing sounds grenades and shooting tear gas canisters into the tents of prisoners and at prisoners themselves.
…The information that the Israeli military unit Nahshon have used only 'non-lethal’ methods has also proved to be misleading, or to use another word, false. What has gone unreported in Israeli and international news is that one inmate, Muhammed al Ashkar, was shot in the head. Sources are mixed, some people say it was a rubber-coated steel bullet, some people say it was live ammunition. Regardless of the type of bullet, a man died, so it was clearly a lethal weapon which killed him.
…If live ammunition was used, one must wonder why prison guard would find the need to open fire on their unarmed inmates. If it was rubber-coated steel bullets that killed Muhammed al-Ashkar, then the farce of calling such bullets 'non-lethal" must end."
According to prisoners contacted via smuggled mobile phones, the Israeli apartheid regime has seriously stepped up its "Nazi-like repressive measures" against prisoners since the events in the Gaza Strip.
The latest measures reportedly include beating prisoners, placing inmates haphazardly in solitary confinement, withholding food from prisoners, inflicting all sorts of humiliating and provocative acts like mid-night harassment raids and denying them visits by their relatives.
Israel is also encouraged and emboldened by PA silence in the face of Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people, including the silent holocaust being waged against the Gaza Strip, where the estimated 1.5 million inhabitants are blockaded for the sixteenth successive month and only small amounts of food are allowed into the strip.
On Monday, Fatah militias in the southern West Bank of Hebron opened fire on locals who were trying to organize a demonstration protesting the death of al-Ashkar. Eyewitnesses reported that they saw Fatah militiamen open fire from their pistols toward the protesters.
At least one person, named Arafat Qafisha, was hit by a bullet in the leg.
The PA said it was only trying to keep law and order.
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