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FIVE prisons

It is time that the international community sets out to save Israel – away from its own mental prison.


"When you want to measure how civilized a country is, you visit its prisons," prisoner Are Høidal tells Jessica Benko. This American journalist is visiting the Halden prison for The New York Times. In the article, which was under pressure this weekend, Benko compares our prison system to the American one. The new Halden prison is described as surrounded by blueberry meadows in a peaceful environment, without barbed wire rolls or prison towers. Halden is reputed to be the most humane of the high-risk prisons in the world. Benko says that the Norwegian welfare society – with education, health and pensions for everyone – spends NOK 750 annually on each inmate. Her home country uses only the third party. Had the United States not had ten times as many inmates as us in relation to the population (700 per 100), they could have spent the same three-quarters of a million on each, while saving NOK 000 billion a year. Benko is fascinated by the fact that we Norwegians focus on rehabilitation, education, job training and therapy, and that since 2007 we started programs for reintegration into society after imprisonment. Nevertheless, Norway and the United States have the same rate of recidivism: every fourth prisoner returns to prison within three years. However, most people do not want to become gangsters behind the walls. Another comparison: Israeli prisons hold about 6500 Palestinians imprisoned, of which the tenth is in so-called administrative detention (see case page 1). One goes to prison without judgment; no one tells you what so-called crime you have committed. It is enough that you have protested against the illegal occupation of your country. Unlike the idyll of blueberry moles around killers in Halden, Palestinians are exposed to what the UN defines as torture: Men, women and children are subjected to brutal physical violence, arrests in the middle of the night, isolation, malnutrition, threats to family and sexual abuse. The Israeli prison cells are overcrowded, poorly ventilated and lacking sunlight, and the prisoners do not receive the medical treatment they need, with the result that hundreds of them die during or after their imprisonment. Palestinians are also forcibly transferred to prisons in unoccupied areas of Israel, preventing their imprisoned families in the West Bank or Gaza from visiting them. And here we are at a third type of prison: Gaza and to some extent the West Bank are probably the largest prisons to be found. Here, parts of a population are locked in, without the opportunity to get out. Trapped behind tall walls, they are prevented from meeting their basic needs, here they are harassed by prison guards in the form of Israeli soldiers. The presence of these prison guards and the many checkpoints – as Israeli veterans in Breaking the Silence explain – are not about security, but solely about harassment. You are happy to get out of this "prison" – if you never return. Either you want death, as the population of entire villages was massacred in 1948, or you are wanted far away, to the other Palestinian refugees. Another containment technique is the economic siege of the Palestinian territories, as the Oslo II agreement in Paris 20 years ago helped Israel gain exclusive rights to collect taxes and customs for the Palestinians. The Self-Government (PA) became just a word on the paper and did not lead to any real independence for Palestine. As former Defense Minister and Prime Minister Ehud Barak told me in an interview, in 1995 he advised his colleague Yitzhak Rabin to let the Palestinians control their own finances. This play only met deaf ears. Therefore, today's Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has once again been able to punish the Palestinians by withholding tax revenue and leaving PA's tens of thousands of public servants suffering from a lack of wages. Palestinians are penalized for seeking admission as a legitimate member of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Following advice from the United States, its own intelligence organization Shin Bet and others that this will totally destabilize the West Bank, Netanyahu has now agreed to pay. But President Abbas has yet to see the money. Regardless: Palestinians get today, Wednesday 1. April, formalized the membership of the ICC. This means that the Palestinians can now report Israel to illegal settlements and what some call war crimes. In addition to the said prisons – the criminal, the political, the wall of Gaza – the ICC also sends people behind the walls. This time it is war criminals who can be held accountable before the courts of the international community. Individuals all the way up to the Israeli government can thus be brought to justice for their actions – they no longer have impunity.  kind Treatment of prisoners gets them away from a criminal career. But the guards are trained to treat the prisoners humanely, as they talk to and interact with them. Why? Not for the prisoners' sake, but for themselves. The theory is that if they are trained to become dominant or brutal, this behavior spreads to their own lives, affecting their own families – yes, ultimately, all of us. It is time that the international community sets out to save brutal Israel – away from their own mental prison.

Truls Lie
Truls Liehttp: /
Editor-in-chief in MODERN TIMES. See previous articles by Lie i Le Monde diplomatique (2003–2013) and Morgenbladet (1993-2003) See also part video work by Lie here.

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