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Inside/Outside Citizenships: Carceral Generations and the Frontiers of Political Action

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A History of Confinement in Palestine: The Prison Web


This chapter focuses on male carceral citizenships in Palestine and changing political practices, activism and mobilizations in-between Inside and Outside since 1967. Starting from the notion of historical generation, it shows the progressive construction of the prison branches of the parties and the structuring of the political and cultural counter-model of the Prisoners’ Movement, and a carceral democracy. The chapter deals with the effects of the Oslo Accords and of the second Intifada period on the weakening of the Prisoners’ Movement. From the failure of the 2004 hunger strike, the prison administration began to implement neoliberal managerial techniques, playing on individual emulation, on the one hand, and on divisions, on the other. The Shabas intelligence service gradually succeeded in interfering in the workings of carceral citizenships and in atomizing part of the prison culture developed in the 1980s. The chapter shows how the new prison management has striven to act on the subjectivities of political prisoners, moving from a control based solely on repression, characterizing previous periods, to provisions that also rely on the more productive dimension of power, by encouraging forms of adhesion: from subjectivation through violence to the will to form neoliberal subjectivities.

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  1. 1.

    After the annexation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem by Jordan following the Armistice Agreements with the newly established Israeli state.

  2. 2.

    The explosion of an Israeli installation designed to divert water from the Jordan River to Israel. It caused little material damage but had a strong impact.

  3. 3.

    From then on, the Jordanian Communist Party was active in the West Bank, while a new Palestinian communist organization was established in Gaza City. In 1975, a Palestinian branch of the Jordanian Communist Party was set up in the West Bank. It split and joined the Gazan structure in 1982 to form a new Palestinian Communist Party, which later took the name of the People’s Party and became part of the PLO in 1987.

  4. 4.

    It was founded in 1944 by Arab members of the Communist Party of Palestine following the split between Jews and Arabs within the party.

  5. 5.

    Ramallah, November 5, 2008.

  6. 6.

    East Jerusalem, October 19, 2009.

  7. 7.

    ICRC Archives.

  8. 8.


  9. 9.

    “Violence – Entretien avec Abba Eban”, December 1, 1969, eod.loc.

  10. 10.

    “Entretien avec le General Gazit”, December 23, 1969, eod.loc.

  11. 11.


  12. 12.

    “Interrogations – entretien avec Moshe Dayan”, June 25, 1969, eod.loc.

  13. 13.

    “Entretien avec le General Gazit”, December 4, 1972, eod.loc.

  14. 14.

    Correspondance, “Détenus sous interrogatoire”, November 17, 1969, eod.loc.

  15. 15.

    It was already the case in the camps for Palestinian civilian inmates and the prisons between 1948 and 1967 (Abu Sitta and Rempel 2014).

  16. 16.

    “Correspondance avec le Général Gazit. Transmission des rapports de visite à la prison d’Ashkelon,” July 24, 1969, eod.loc.

  17. 17.

    The PNF ceased to exist in 1976 due to its repression and increased dissension with the PLO over its political line.

  18. 18.

    Ramallah, May 26, 2016.

  19. 19.

    This may refer to the feast at the end of Ramadan (Eid al-Fitr) or the one 70 days after (Eid al-Adha).

  20. 20.

    Nablus, West Bank, July 8, 2012.

  21. 21.

    The literal translation is the Palestinian Prisoner of War Movement.

  22. 22.

    Ramallah, October 15, 2012.

  23. 23.

    The PLO parliament.

  24. 24.

    Abu Dis, West Bank, April 30, 2011.

  25. 25.

    Ramallah, April 23, 2011.

  26. 26.

    Such as the undated one distributed to PFLP activists, The Philosophy of Confrontation Behind Bars (Falsafa al-muwajaha wara al qudban) (Nashif 2008).

  27. 27.

    For example, Prison is Not for Us (Al-sijn laysa lana) published by the community of prisoners in Nafha prison.

  28. 28.

    Saad, Ramallah, May 26, 2016.

  29. 29.

    I is defined as a “place of residence and work where a large number of like-situated individuals, cut off from the wider society for an appreciable period of time, together lead an enclosed, formally administered round of life” whose effectiveness depends partly on the degree of rupture that it provokes with the familiar, virtual, or real universe of its members (Goffman 1961: xiii).

  30. 30.

    Though they were not part of the UNLU.

  31. 31.

    Abu George, July 8, 2012.

  32. 32.

    July 8, 2012.

  33. 33.

    It was closed in 2006 and reopened intermittently.

  34. 34.

    Ramallah, November 11, 2018.

  35. 35.

    Ramallah, November 6, 2018.

  36. 36.

    Nablus, July 9, 2012.

  37. 37.

    Khalayleh, Abu Rabi 2011.

  38. 38.

    It was also the name given to young Fatah fighters.

  39. 39.

    Khalayleh, Abu Rabi 2011.

  40. 40.

    Said al-Atabeh, Nablus, July 9, 2019.

  41. 41.

    Ramallah, 25/04/2011.

  42. 42.

    The Palestinian People’s Party and Fida, a party that split from the DFLP due to its support for the Oslo Accords.

  43. 43.

    The notion of suicide is indeed rejected because the intention is not to kill oneself but to accomplish an act of resistance with a collective dimension. The word martyr (shahid) is understood here in a sense that is not only religious (one who dies to bear witness to their faith—etymologically, a martyr is a witness—or in the way of God), but in a broader and political sense linked to the justness of the cause defended.

  44. 44.

    July 8, 2012.

  45. 45.

    Ramallah, April 25, 2011.

  46. 46.

    Military Ordonnance n° 04.48.00, 08/01/2004.

  47. 47.

    Qaddura Fares, Ramallah, 11/11/ 2018.

  48. 48.

    Ramallah, 26/05/2016.

  49. 49.

    It is the decision-making body of the PLO. Its 18 members are elected.

  50. 50.

    Since April 2018, the Palestinian National Council (PNC) has 740 members. The 88 (now 132) members of the Legislative Council are automatically members. Since 1967, and together with 98 others, they represent the Palestinian population of the Occupied Territories. The remaining members come from the diaspora.

  51. 51.

    It votes on political decisions when the PNC is not in session and liaises with the PLO Executive Committee.

  52. 52.

    Ramallah, 05/26/2016.

  53. 53.

    The Oslo Accords divided the West Bank into Areas A (under Palestinian sovereignty), B (under Palestinian responsibility for civil affairs and Israel’s for security matters), and Area C under full Israeli control. In 2000, on the eve of the second Intifada, Area A represented only 17 percent of the West Bank, Area B 23 percent, and Area C 60 percent.

  54. 54. All websites included in this chapter have been verified in July 2022.

  55. 55.

  56. 56.

    Israeli MPs, or sometimes parliamentarians from other countries, may exceptionally be allowed to visit a security prisoner, as may some politicians or officials.

  57. 57.

    It was launched by Hamas and succeeded in obtaining that telephones be installed for the first time for security detainees. Henceforth, they are supposed to be able to call their families several times a week. However, the equipment has been slow to arrive and access to these calls is far from being guaranteed to all.

  58. 58.

    Started by the IDF in 2003, this program aimed to limit the damage caused by the Occupation to avoid a humanitarian crisis in the Occupied Territories, which would have forced the Israeli State to take over some services to the population (Weizman 2009).

  59. 59.

    The Parallel Time (Al-zaman al-muazi) became a play inspired by his texts and life story staged in 2014 by Bashar Murkus at al-Midan Theater in Haifa.

  60. 60.

    Two years were in fact added to his sentence in 2017.

  61. 61.

    According to lawyer Abeer Baker, only 2% of security prisoners are granted this sentence reduction due to the—undivulged—opposition of the Shin Beth, though some 30 percent of common law prisoners obtain it (Acre, October 30, 2014).

  62. 62.

    The National Democratic Assembly is a party of Palestinians in Israel, also called Balad, which was notably founded by Azmi Bishara. Its orientation is close to that of the PFLP.

  63. 63.

    Published in a shorter version (Daka 2011).

  64. 64.

    Seitan Al-Uli was a prisoner from the Golan close to the PFLP. He was released from prison in 2010 at the age of forty-five with invasive cancer and died a year later.

  65. 65.

    Hassan, East Jerusalem, July 26, 2012.

  66. 66.

    Following Jean-François Legrain, we could call them ethno-localist ties.

  67. 67.

    Sudqi al-Maqt, Majdal Shams, July 11, 2014.

  68. 68.

  69. 69.

    This decision was related to the ban on all movement from Gaza except for humanitarian cases (Knesset 2013).

  70. 70.

    Interview with a lawyer from the NGO HaMoked, February 18, 2015. A lawsuit was underway to prevent this amendment of the regulations.

  71. 71.

    Rachela, an academic jurist from the Hebrew University, West Jerusalem, April 7, 2010.

  72. 72.


  73. 73.

  74. 74.

    In contrast with his book Discipline and Punish. The birth of the Prison (1977) and its disciplinary conception of the prison, Foucault later distanced himself from a solely repressive and negative vision of power that prevents understanding the dynamics of its hold.

  75. 75.

    Haber (2013).

  76. 76.

    Paltrinieri (2013).

  77. 77.

    Chantraine (2006).

  78. 78.

    Daka (2009).

  79. 79.

    Ramallah, 19/04/2010.

  80. 80.

    Eighty-seven were under that of the army.

  81. 81.

    IPS, Detailed Statistics on Security Prisoners, April 1, 2007.

  82. 82.

    East Jerusalem, July 24, 2012.

  83. 83.

    A former head of the Preventive Security in Gaza, which he left following the split between his party and Hamas, he was expelled from Fatah in 2011 and went into exile in the United Arab Emirates, but continued to maintain important networks in the West Bank and to work for his political future.

  84. 84.

    See Minassian (2017).

  85. 85.

    Literally “Sons of the Land.” It is a political movement of Palestinians in Israel opposed to participation in parliamentary elections, unlike the Balad party (National Democratic Assembly or Tajamu’).

  86. 86.

    Umm al-Fahm, 27/07/2015.

  87. 87.

    Bassem Tamimi, Ramallah, 19/07/2012.

  88. 88.


  89. 89.

    In a reprisal operation to avenge that of three young settlers killed by militants close to Hamas after their kidnapping in May.

  90. 90.


  91. 91.

    Detailed statistics provided by B’Tselem.

  92. 92.

    Figures taken from Harel and Breiner (2018).

  93. 93.

    A word referring to the name of an extremist group Al-takfir wa al-hijra, which emerged from a 1971 breakaway from the Muslim Brotherhood and advocates excommunication of other Muslims and ultra-violence.

  94. 94.

    In favor of participation in Knesset elections, unlike its northern branch headed by Sheikh Raed Salah.

  95. 95.

    Umm al-Fahm, 27/07/2015.

  96. 96.

    The Prisoners’ Museum, Abu Dis.

  97. 97.

    April 26, 2011.

  98. 98.

    Ramallah, July 16, 2012.

  99. 99.

    Ramallah, April 27, 2011.

  100. 100.


  101. 101.

    Ramallah, July 14, 2012.


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Abdallah, S.L. (2022). Inside/Outside Citizenships: Carceral Generations and the Frontiers of Political Action. In: A History of Confinement in Palestine: The Prison Web. The Sciences Po Series in International Relations and Political Economy. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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