Conflicts & War

Investigation reveals Israel detained Palestinians in Sinai camps in 1971

By Pablo Duer y Saud Abu Ramadán

Jerusalem/Gaza, Aug 5 (EFE).- Hundreds of Palestinians, mostly women and children, were secretly detained without charge in 1971 by Israeli authorities in two desert camps in the Sinai peninsula, an investigation of declassified Israel state intelligence has revealed.

The information had remained buried deep within the state archives for half a century and was only revealed last week by an Israeli NGO that has been investigating the matter for years, after managing to find confirmation of the existence of the detention facilities in declassified documents.

Under conditions described as inhumane and for an undetermined amount of time, over 300 residents of the Gaza Strip were detained against their will in the middle of the desert, within occupied Egyptian territory.

The charges against some were being relatives of terrorism suspects, or simply being young and unemployed for others.

One of the two camps was located in Abu Zenima, on the eastern coast of the Gulf of Suez some 300 kilometers from Gaza, and first opened on January 5, 1971, according to a years-long investigation by the NGO Akevot.

The second camp was found in the municipality of Nekhel, in the centre of the Sinai, at the time under Israeli control as part of the territory captured in the 1967 Six-Day war.

The Abu Zenima camp held some 140 family members of militants and activists of the nationalist organization Fatah considered responsible or suspects of terrorist activity under the leadership of Yasser Arafat.

Out of 140 Gazans detained in the camp, 87 were children, according to a report by the International Committee of the Red Cross delegation that visited the camp multiple times throughout the year.

The reports by the ICRC detail the inhumane conditions under which the Palestinian families were detained, while one of the delegates said he was personally “shocked at the ruthlessness of Israeli military authorities against these families,” considering their homes in Gaza had been destroyed following their deportation.

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