Palestinian female prisoner, 68, dies in Israeli jail

Saadia Farajallah, the oldest Palestinian female prisoner, died six months after Israeli forces arrested her in Hebron.

A 68-year-old Palestinian woman has died in an Israeli prison, six months after she was arrested by Israeli forces near a military checkpoint in Hebron in the occupied West Bank, according to the Palestinian Wafa news agency.

Saadia Farajallah, who was reportedly suffering from multiple chronic illnesses, including high blood pressure and diabetes, was held in the Israeli Damon prison since her detention in December 2021.

Farajallah was arrested near the Ibrahimi Mosque in the southern West Bank city of Hebron for allegedly attempting a stabbing attack.

Palestinian factions and human rights organisations denounced Farajallah’s death, saying she died as a result of the Israeli policy of medical negligence practised against Palestinian political prisoners.

The Palestinian Authority (PA), which governs the occupied West Bank, has demanded an autopsy of Farajallah, a mother of eight, from the town of Idna in the south of the West Bank, Wafa reported.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Club, a rights group that advocates for Palestinians held in Israeli custody, said the circumstances behind her death remain unknown. Detainees said she lost consciousness after performing her ablutions for morning prayers, after which she was immediately transferred to the prison’s clinic, where she died, according to the Prisoners’ Club.

On June 28, Farajallah attended a court hearing in a wheelchair when the prosecution sought a five-year prison sentence and a fine of 15,000 sheqalim ($4,200), according to the Prisoners’ Club.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayya denounced Farajallah’s death, holding the Israeli occupation authorities fully responsible for it.

Shtayya called on the international human rights organisations to open an investigation into the circumstances of her death and to press the occupation authorities to release all the female and sick prisoners.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry also called for an international investigation.

Farajallah is the 230th Palestinian to die while in Israeli imprisonment or detention since 1967.

There are 4,700 Palestinians currently held in Israeli prisons, including 32 women and 170 children, according to the Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer.

About 640 prisoners are held under “administrative detention”, a policy that allows Israel to hold detainees without charge or trial.

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