Dozens of families in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are awaiting the fate of their missing sons. This is according to information received from former prisoners who were themselves held by Israel in secret prisons under fake names and symbols like the Australian Agent X.
Although the actual number of secret prisoners is unknown, information obtained by the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper from multiple sources suggests that they exceed 130. They include Arab and Palestinian nationalities, coming primarily from the West Bank. A small number disappeared more than a quarter of a century ago, while others disappeared 30 or 40 years ago.
A simple calculation reveals results that the families of these prisoners wouldn’t like to contemplate: that a number of prisoners died in the secret prisons, the most famous of which is prison No 1391. It is reportedly a cement building in the middle of a kibbutz (cooperative village) and surrounded by dense trees, high walls and bordered by military surveillance towers. Israel has declared it a closed military area.
The issue of the disappeared Palestinians has surfaced recently following revelations about the Australian, Agent X, who allegedly committed suicide in solitary confinement in December 2010, as well as Israel’s release of hundreds of dead bodies of Palestinians who had been buried in the “Numbers Graveyard.”
The hand-over of the Palestinian remains and disclosures surrounding Agent X has reassured other families, who have not received their children’s bodies, that they were not in those graves, and they are still detained in the secret prisons.
Researchers and specialists in prisoners’ affairs stress that inmates in secret prisons undergo private and confidential trials of a predominantly military character. They are held at specific times and are not documented. No one knows what happens in the deliberations, and the prisoners have no legal defence.