Prior to the Oct. 7 attack by the Hamas terrorist group on Israel, around 5,200 Palestinians were in Israeli prisons. Palestinian officials said on Oct. 19 that this number has now increased to more than 10,000. Based on reports from both officials and human rights groups, Israel has arrested some 4,000 workers in Gaza and 1,070 other Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem – with the latter being arrested during overnight raids by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
"Arrests are taking place 24 hours a day," said Sahar Francis, head of the Addameer prisoners' rights group based in the city of Ramallah in the West Bank. He told Al Jazeera that the majority of the people from Gaza are being detained at a military base called Sde Teyman, near Beersheba in the southern Naqab desert. Hundreds of other people are imprisoned in Ofer prison near Ramallah and in the Anatot military camp near the village of Anata in occupied East Jerusalem, Francis added.
Palestinian lawyers and officials have stressed the serious mistreatment and dreadful conditions detainees are being subjected to.
Qadura Fares, head of the Palestinian Authority's Commission for Detainees' Affairs, said at a press conference last Oct. 19 in Ramallah that the latest developments concerning prisoners are "unprecedented" and "dangerous."
"We hesitated a lot about holding this press conference addressing yet another chapter of Israeli crimes, on what our male and female prisoners are being exposed to in the occupation's prisons, for fear of creating tension and anxiety among the families of prisoners, and our Palestinian people in general," said Fares.
"Prisoners are subjected to starvation and thirst; they are prevented from accessing their medicine, specifically for those suffering from chronic illnesses that require regular medication," Fares stated, adding that issues became worse "when the prison administration cut off water and electricity."
Addameer also reported on the prevention of access to medical care with the shutdown of the prison clinics and prisoners prevented from going to hospitals and external clinics.
Fares mentioned that "the most dangerous thing" over the past few days was the "physical attacks" and degrading treatment.
"Everyone who is arrested is assaulted," he lamented. "Many of the prisoners have had their limbs, hands and legs broken … degrading and insulting expressions, insults, cursing, tying them with handcuffs to the back and tightening them at the end to the point of causing severe pain … naked, humiliating and group search of the prisoners."
During times of "calm" under Israel's 56-year military occupation, 15 to 20 people are arrested on a regular basis. Nonetheless, the regular arrest rate of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem has increased to 120 people since Oct. 7, per Palestinian officials.
Meanwhile, a senior Hamas official has earlier demanded the release of 6,000 Palestinians in Israel's jails in exchange for Israelis held hostage in Gaza. Khaled Meshaal, former chair of the Hamas Political Bureau, said the hostages include high-ranking officers from the IDF's Gaza Division responsible for monitoring the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli military said on Oct. 16 that 199 captives were being detained in the embattled territory, a higher number than previously estimated. However, another Hamas official said he "does not know" how many hostages are still alive.
"I have no idea because it is impossible under this heavy bombardment," Hamas head of political and international relations Dr. Basem Naim told Sky News. "The communications are totally cut."
Naim emphasized that Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, was prepared to release civilian hostages when "aggression … is stopped." (Related: Hamas FREES 2 American hostages on HUMANITARIAN grounds.)
Follow WWIII.news for more news about the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Watch this video about the release of two hostages from Hamas captivity.
This video is from the Cynthia's Pursuit of Truth channel on Brighteon.com.