Israel’s Lod District Court postponed a scheduled hearing on extending Ahmad Manasra’s solitary confinement yesterday, because Ahmad, a 21-year-old Palestinian who has been in isolation since November 2021, was too unwell to attend.
Khulood Badawi, Amnesty International’s Campaigner on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, said:
“Ahmad Manasra was taken to the mental health unit at Ayalon prison, after spending the better part of two years in solitary confinement. The Israeli Prison Service, has requested an extension of Ahmad’s isolation for another six months, in brazen violation of international law. Prolonged solitary confinement lasting more than 15 days violates the absolute prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Israeli authorities have treated Ahmad Manasra with inhuman cruelty, intent on pushing him past breaking point. He is now so gravely unwell that he could not attend his own hearing. Yet when Ahmad is discharged from the clinic, prison authorities will return him to solitary confinement and reschedule the court hearing. Ahmad’s nightmare goes on and on.
“Ahmad Manasra has been diagnosed with serious mental health conditions, including schizophrenia and severe depression, for which he has been hospitalized before. Israeli authorities continue to ignore the warnings of independent psychiatrists, who have said that Ahmad Manasra’s life is at risk if he remains in prison. Worse still, they have condemned Ahmad to spend years in isolation despite his conditions, demonstrating once again their contempt for Palestinians’ rights, wellbeing, and lives.
“Ahmad Manasra watched from behind bars as his childhood ebbed away. He is now a young man, and his life has been defined by the violations which help to maintain Israel’s cruel system of apartheid against Palestinians. He is deeply traumatized, but it is not too late for him to rebuild his future. Ahmad Manasra must be released from prison immediately, so that he can begin his recovery process with the support of his family and community.”
Ahmad Manasra was arrested in 2015 in relation to the stabbing and injury of two Israelis, aged 20 and 13, in occupied East Jerusalem. Although Israeli courts found that Ahmad did not participate in the stabbings, he is serving a nine-and-a-half-year sentence for attempted murder.
Ahmad’s 15-year-old cousin, Hassan, was shot dead at the scene of the stabbings in 2015, and Ahmad sustained serious head injuries when he was hit by a car. As he lay bleeding on the ground, large crowds gathered to jeer and shout abuse at him. Footage of Ahmad Manasra’s interrogation showed three Israeli officers shouting threats and insults at him, as he sat sobbing with a bandage around his head.
Ahmad Manasra has endured several periods of prolonged solitary confinement, in violation of international law. On 24 October 2021, he was diagnosed by an independent Israeli clinical psychologist with serious psychiatric conditions, which the medical report said had developed since his detention.
Ahmad Manasra’s appeal for an early release on medical grounds was rejected by the Beersheba District Court in the summer of 2022.