Israeli conscientious objector ends hunger strike citing abuse

Prison guards put Udi Segal in isolation and threatened him with trumped up charges, alleges the jailed conscientious objector now serving his fifth term in Israeli military prison.

Udi Segal (right) arrives with supporters to an IDF induction base. The sign says, 'Refuseniks Against the Occupation' (Photo courtesy of 'Refuseniks Against the Occupation'
Udi Segal (right) arrives with supporters to an IDF induction base. The sign says, ‘Refuseniks Against the Occupation’ (Photo courtesy of ‘Refuseniks Against the Occupation’

Israeli conscientious objector Udi Segal stopped his hunger strike over the weekend, citing what he described as abuse by guards in the Israeli army’s “Prison 6.” Segal began his fifth prison term last Thursday when he once again registered his refusal to serve in the Israeli army for reasons of conscience, declaring a hunger strike to protest his continued and repeated imprisonment.

Since the start of his latest prison term Segal has been subject to degrading treatment by guards which led him to end his hunger strike, according to his attorney, Rawan Eghbariah of ‘New Profile.’ According to Eghbariah, Segal was placed in an isolation wing of the prison in a cell with broken windows, was not allowed to have any books — including religious books — with him and was forced to keep his hands on his knees anytime he was sitting.

Additionally, Segal was forced to go into the prison yard at least four times over the weekend, Eghbariah said. During one of those times, she added, he was ordered to carry out physically strenuous activities for 40 minutes at a time, and alternatively to stare at a specific point on the wall for 40 minutes. The prison guards told Segal they would prevent him from meeting with his attorney and, “we can do whatever we want to you and put you on trial because there are no witnesses.” The guards also told Segal that he is harming his family, according to his attorney.

Segal decided to stop his hunger strike on Saturday. He told his attorney, Eghbariah, that he did so because of the abuse he suffered and because “it turned into a power struggle, and I’m not interested in proving my strength or my ‘masculinity,’ in their language — that is the essence of my refusal.”

In a statement published last Thursday, Segal wrote, “I am not willing to participate in the denial of Palestinians’ freedom. I will not contribute to a situation in which four million Palestinians live in territories under a regime they did not elect.”

Segal’s case is not the first report of Israeli military prison guards abusing inmates in the isolation wing of Prison 6. Ultra-Orthodox conscientious objector Uriel Ferera, who at the start of his prison term refused to wear an army uniform, reported degrading treatment from prison guards. More recently, objector Omar Sa’ad suffered in prison, where he became sick and, according to him, was not provided medical care until his condition worsened to the point that he required hospitalization. Following that incident he was released from the military.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Office issued the following response: “The soldier was processed [into] Prison Base 396 on October 30, 2014, for [being AWOL]. The soldier is not hunger striking and is being cared for by the prison base’s staff. Accordingly, the soldier was in contact with his parents and his attorney.”

This article was first published on +972’s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call. Read it in Hebrew here.

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