Sunday, May 10, 2020

  • Sunday, May 10, 2020
  • Elder of Ziyon
The New York Times reported:

The Palestinian Authority, which governs parts of the West Bank under the Oslo accords, sends stipends each month to as many as 12,000 families of current and former prisoners, some of whom have been convicted of killing Israelis. More than an estimated 750,000 Palestinians have been imprisoned by Israel during the 53 years of the occupation, according to the Palestine Liberation Organization’s negotiation affairs department. Many Palestinians revere the current and former inmates as national heroes.
I've been chasing down that statistic for over ten years. And it is bogus.

Proof #1:

It was originally stated by the Addameer NGO, as 650,000 prisoners in 2005. They never gave a source for this statistic.

The burden of proof should be on the people who make the claim, and the numbers should not be quoted without any whiff of a source.

Proof #2:

Addameer raised it to 750,000 prisoners in 2009. B'Tselem counts an average of perhaps 7000 prisoners at any time between 2005-2009, which means that for there to be 100,000 new prisoners in those 4 years, there must be an astonishing turnover of the entire prison population.

Of course, there wasn't. The PCHR NGO keeps track of all arrests, and the average number of monthly arrests (from taking a random sample) was between 200-400 in that time period. Even if every person arrested ended up in prison, that would be at the very most 5,000 new prisoners a year, not 25,000. (And in reality it is far less.)

So we already know Addameer was either lying in 2005 or in 2009. And the answer is, they were lying in both. Because that would mean a huge number of prisoners between 1967 and 2005 - some 17,000 new prisoners a month over 38 years, then increasing to 25,000 a month by 2009.

These numbers are absurd. They don't line up with prisoner counts, they don't line up with arrests. They have no source. They are lies.

Proof #3:

Newer  Addameer numbers (and PLO numbers) raise the number of prisoners to 800,000 (2014) and one million (2016.) Every single cited number is arbitrary and unsourced. And the newer ones are even more absurd, as the number of prisoners have been steadily declining over that time to less than 5000 now.

The Palestinian Prisoners Society claim of a million prisoners by 2016 contrasts with their claim of 850,000 in 2015, meaning an additional 150,000 imprisoned in that one year - a year where we know the number of arrests was less than 5000.

So everyone, not just Addameer, was making up numbers. Yet they were quoted by the UN, by Jimmy Carter, by untold NGOs who cannot believe that Palestinians would lie so easily.

Proof #4:

If the PLO has a policy of paying salaries to prisoners and former prisoners, why aren't they paying 750,000 people or a million people?

Every Palestinian is aware of "pay for slay." Mahmoud Abbas has bragged about it and said that he would never reduce it by a penny. If so many Palestinians were eligible for the payments, there would be riots in the streets from the former prisoners (and since there are only 4200 prisoners now, that means nearly all of the "750,000" or "million" are former prisoners.)


Proof #5:

When Addameer says this statistic, they often add another one: that this number represents some 40% of the total adult male population of Palestinians who have been in prison.

40%!

In a survey of Arab women in 2011, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics asked a large sample of women "Has [sic] any of your family members been arrested/detained by the Israeli occupation" - within the previous 12 months or any time before that.

3.6% answered yes for the previous 12 months, and 20.8% said it had happened in the years before that.

Not counting the fact that great number of people imprisoned had been in prison previously, that is a maximum of 25% of male family members who had been in prison - if there is only one adult male per what the woman considers family. However, given Palestinian family sizes, one can assume that there are at least four adult males related to every woman surveyed on the average: husbands, fathers, adult sons, brothers. If my estimate is correct on 4 male relatives (and I am being conservative - they might include uncles and cousins) then that would mean more like 5-7% of adult males have been in prison. Adults are a little more than half the population, men are half of that, so this would mean that less than 100,000 men had been in prison at least once. (I am not counting the very real possibility that more that one male relative could easily have been in prison, but I am well overestimating in my other assumptions, so less than 100,000 seems far more reasonable.)

At any rate, there is no way to make those numbers add up to 40% of adult males or 750,000 men.

I emailed the Israel Prisons Service asking if they have any actual statistics, we'll see if they answer. But the overinflated numbers given by the PLO and Addameer, and parroted by the New York Times, has zero basis in reality.





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