Quarterly Update on Palestinian Prisoners (15 January 2012 – 30 August 2012)
This Quarterly Update covers the period from 15 January 2012 to 30 August 2012. A quarterly newsletter covering the first quarter of 2012 was not issued. Therefore, this newsletter will cover the past two quarters and information to date. It provides the most up-to-date statistics on prisoners and arrests and an overview of the important trends in these quarters. In addition, it gives background on individual prisoner cases and summarizes the most relevant legal, UN and EU news, as well as Addameer's activities over the reporting period.
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CURRENT ARREST AND DETENTION STATISTICS*
||Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli detention, including:
||administrative detainees, including 8 PLC members
||children, including 31 under the age of 16
||members of the Palestinian Legislative Council
||prisoners who have been imprisoned for more than 20 years
||Palestinians from the 1948 Territories
||prisoners from the Gaza Strip, including 2 detained under the Unlawful Combatants Law
||prisoners from East Jerusalem
||approximate number of Palestinians arrested by Israel between 1 January – 31 July
*Detention statistics are based on reports from the Israeli Prison Service and Addameer’s monitoring. Detention statistics are current as of 31 July 2012, except for the number of women and PLC members, which are current as of 30 August 2012 and based on Addameer’s own documentation. Arrest statistics are based on figures from the Palestinian Monitoring Group and are current as of 31 July 2012.
PRISONER NEWS & ADVOCACY UPDATE
The Palestinian political prisoners’ movement has reinvigorated its strength in the international arena through the wave of historic individual and mass hunger strikes that have characterized this reporting period. The hunger strikes are indicative of the further deterioration of prison conditions and treatment of Palestinian prisoners, with many hunger strikers commenting that they view a hunger strike as the only available tool left to fight for their basic rights. Though focus on hunger strikers has diminished since the conclusion of the mass hunger strike in May, four Palestinian detainees continue their “hunger strikes for dignity” to this day.
The 2012 hunger strikes began with Khader Adnan, who launched his hunger strike in protest against ill-treatment he suffered at the hands of the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) upon his arrest and against being held without charge or trial in administrative detention. He ended his hunger strike on its 66th day on 21 February, when an agreement was made with Israeli authorities that he would be released on 17 April and his administrative detention order would not be renewed. At the time, he was the longest Palestinian hunger striker in history. On 16 February, Hana Shalabi also launched a hunger strike after being re-arrested by Israel, in protest of ill-treatment and her administrative detention. After 43 days of hunger strike and at risk of death, she ended her hunger strike on 29 March when an agreement was made that she would be released on the condition that she would be expelled to the Gaza Strip for a period of three years.
Inspired by the two administrative detainees, Palestinian prisoners launched solidarity hunger strikes and by the end of Hana’s hunger strike, 33 other prisoners were also engaged in open hunger strikes. Of the prisoners on full hunger strike, the majority of whom were in administrative detention, all were subjected to various punishments by the IPS, including isolation, fines, denial of family visits, strip searches, frequent transfers, and other forms of ill-treatment. By the beginning of the mass hunger strike on 17 April, eight Palestinian prisoners remained on extended hunger strikes launched during and following the hunger strikes of Khader and Hana.
An estimated 1,200 Palestinian prisoners announced the beginning of an open hunger strike on Palestinian Prisoners’ Day on 17 April, along with approximately 2,300 who refused meals from the IPS. The hunger striking prisoners’ demands included: an end to the IPS’ abusive use of long-term isolation for “security” reasons, which at the time affected 19 prisoners; an end to Israel’s practice of detaining Palestinians without charge or trial in administrative detention; a repeal of a series of punitive measures taken against Palestinian prisoners following the capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, including the denial of family visits for all Gaza prisoners since 2007 and denial of access to university education since June 2011.
By the end of April, approximately 2,000 prisoners were on hunger strike, with news from within the prisons indicating that the numbers were increasing each week. The prisoners involved in the mass hunger strike faced harsh punishments by the IPS, including being transferred to isolation sections or other prisons, fines, denial of access to salt and daily raids and attacks on their sections. In further attempt to isolate the prisoners from the outside world and from each other, the IPS prevented hunger strikers from meeting with their lawyers. Addameer lawyer Samer Samaan was officially banned from visiting the prisons.
Simultaneously, prisoners engaged in protracted hunger strikes, such as administrative detainees Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahleh, were denied access to independent doctors and the IPS refused to transfer them to civilian hospitals for adequate care, despite the severe deterioration of their medical conditions.
Throughout the hunger strike, a committee of 10 prisoners representing all the hunger strikers engaged in meetings with Israeli authorities to advocate for their demands. On the night before the commemoration of 64 years since the Palestinian Nakba (“Catastrophe”), 28 days after the beginning of the hunger strike, the hunger strike committee met with IPS officials and Israeli intelligence officers and determined the stipulations of the agreement to end the hunger strike.
The agreement contained five main provisions, included in written and oral form: the prisoners would end their hunger strike following the signing of the agreement; the 19 prisoners in long-term isolation for “security” reasons would be moved out of isolation within 72 hours; family visits for first degree relatives to prisoners from the Gaza Strip and for families from the West Bank who have been denied visits based on vague “security” reasons would be reinstated within one month; the Israeli intelligence agency guaranteed that there would be a committee formed to facilitate meetings between the IPS and prisoners in order to improve their daily conditions; new administrative detention orders or renewals of administrative detention orders for the Palestinians currently in administrative detention would be limited, unless the secret files, upon which administrative detention is based, contained “very serious” information.
Updates since the agreement to end the mass hunger strike
Notably, of the 19 prisoners held in long-term isolation for so-called “security” reasons, 18 were subsequently removed from isolation following the conclusion of the hunger strike. These 18 include Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Secretary General Ahmad Sa’adat, who was in isolation for over three years, and Mahmoud Issa, who was held in isolation for over ten years. Nevertheless, Israel’s use of isolation for punitive reasons as a policy remains unchanged. Dirar Abu Sisi, held for an extended period in isolation at the time of the agreement, has still not been transferred to the general prison population. An additional prisoner, Awad Saidi, had been placed in isolation in April and is currently still in isolation under a six-month isolation order.
Though the agreement stipulated that family visits for prisoners from Gaza would resume within one month, the first visit did not occur until two months later, on 16 July, during which 25 prisoners were able to receive visits from their relatives in prison for half-hour periods. To date, seven such visits have taken place to a total of 221 prisoners, leaving more than half of the 449 Gaza prisoners still isolated from their families. It remains unclear when or if any families will be granted second visits. For families of prisoners from the West Bank previously denied visits based on vague “security” reasons, numerous family members have since received permission, but some are still denied.
Improvements to basic prison conditions, including an end to violent searches and night raids on prison sections and a resumption of access to university education, which has been denied since the summer of 2011, also as of yet have not occurred. In the discussion of the agreement, the hunger strike committee was told that access to university education was not included in the written agreement because the case was already being brought before the Israeli High Court and the IPS would adopt the High Court’s decision. The High Court has yet to hear the case.
As for Israel’s arbitrary use of administrative detention, in the immediate aftermath of the hunger strike, no apparent change had occurred. Within just three weeks, Amnesty International documented at least 30 renewals of administrative detention orders and three new orders issued. Currently, there are less administrative detainees than there were prior to the hunger strike, but it is too soon to discern whether or not this is a trend that will remain consistent. Furthermore, the renewals of administrative detention orders for two previous hunger strikers, Samer Al-Barq and Hassan Safadi, forced them to re-launch their hunger strikes in protest, which continue to this day.
Individual hunger strikes following the agreement
Of the eight prisoners on extended hunger strikes upon the conclusion of the mass hunger strike, five were administrative detainees. These five were all promised release upon the expiration of their current orders. Thaer Halahleh, Bilal Diab and Jaafar Azzedine were all released, while Hassan Safadi and Omar Abu Shalal’s orders were renewed. Omar had spent 70 days on hunger strike, and after Hassan’s order was renewed, Omar’s lawyer decided to take his case to the High Court. Before the file was opened, Israeli intelligence officials made a deal that Omar’s order, which was set to expire on 14 August, would be renewed only once, for a period of four months.
Mahmoud Sarsak, a 25-year-old member of the Palestinian National Football team from Gaza, was also on extended hunger strike in protest against being held without charge or trial, but was not explicitly included in the agreement. Mahmoud was the only detainee held under Israel’s Unlawful Combatants Law, which allows for the indefinite detention of Palestinians from Gaza and provides even fewer legal protections than Palestinians held in administrative detention. Mahmoud began his hunger strike on 19 March, and because he was not given a release date in the agreement, he remained on hunger strike for an additional month. Mahmoud’s case garnered international attention and he eventually ended his hunger strike after 92 days on 18 June, when Israel agreed to release him on 10 July. Mahmoud now plans to travel to Tunisia to play football with the Al-Afriki club team.
Akram Rikhawi originally began his hunger strike on 12 April, just before the launch of the mass hunger strike. Akram has been held in Ramleh prison medical center since his arrest in 2004, as he suffers from many chronic conditions, including diabetes, asthma and osteoporosis. Akram is serving a nine-year sentence and began his hunger strike in protest against his request for early release not being granted despite his medical condition. Every prisoner is entitled to ask to be considered for an earlier release when he has served at least two-thirds of his sentence. He called for his immediate release due to the seriousness of his health condition and what he calls deliberate medical neglect by the IPS since his arrest. After 102 days of hunger strike, the longest in Palestinian history, Akram ended his hunger strike when Israel agreed to release him on 25 January 2013, six months prior to his original release date.
When his administrative detention order was renewed just one week following the conclusion of the mass hunger strike, Samer Al-Barq re-launched an open hunger strike. He had originally been on hunger strike for 30 days and as of 30 August, is on his 101st day of renewed hunger strike and in critical condition. Samer has been held in administrative detention since July 2010. He has suffered severe mistreatment by the IPS during his hunger strike, including beatings and being denied access to independent doctors. Despite the urgency of his medical condition, Samer’s administrative detention order was recently renewed for another three months and is set to expire on 22 November. His family is deeply saddened by the lack of attention on Samer’s case and urge his immediate release.
Like Samer, Hassan Safadi also re-launched his hunger strike after his administrative detention order was renewed and as of 30 August was on his 71st day of renewed hunger strike. As stated above, Hassan was one of the five administrative detainees on protracted hunger strike, and ended another 71-day strike upon being told he would be released at the end of his current order. Instead, just before the expiration of his current order, Hassan received a new administrative detention order on 21 June, in breach of the agreement. He immediately re-launched his hunger strike and was placed in solitary confinement. He is currently being held in an isolation cell with Samer Al-Barq and hunger striker Ayman Sharawna in Ramleh prison medical clinic, where he is also in critical condition. In addition to the deterioration of his health do to such long back-to-back hunger strikes, Hassan has been beaten by prison guards on multiple occasions. In one incident, his head was thrown against the iron cell door until he was unconscious. In his first hunger strike, Hassan was forcibly given treatment via an injection in his arm. A decision regarding the appeal of his current administrative detention order has yet to be determined by the Israeli military judge.
The third Palestinian political prisoner currently on hunger strike is Ayman Sharawna, who was on his 61st day of hunger strike as on 30 August. Ayman is 37 years old, from Dura village in Hebron and has nine children. He had been released from nearly ten years in Israeli prison in last October’s prisoner exchange, but was re-arrested for unknown reasons on 31 January. He has yet to be charged or brought to trial. Ayman launched his hunger strike on 1 July in protest of his re-arrest. He has not yet been granted access to an independent doctor, though he expressed to an Addameer lawyer on 27 August that he is suffering from kidney problems and can no longer stand or walk on his own. Court hearings related to his case have been consistently postponed and most recently a hearing was re-scheduled for 6 September. During his arrest in January, Israeli soldiers seized many documents from his home, including those that were related to the agreement for his amnesty last October. A military judge has ordered that these documents be returned to him, but they have as of yet not been returned.
Another prisoner who was re-arrested on 7 July after being released in the prisoner exchange deal, 33-year-old Samer Al-Issawi, also launched a hunger strike on 1 August. Like the other hunger strikers, Samer noted that he viewed his hunger strike as his only available tool against his continued imprisonment. Addameer has thus far had no access to him and therefore his current status remains unclear.
Re-arrests following the prisoner exchange deal
As in the cases of Ayman Sharawna and Samer Al-Issawi, Israel has begun to re-arrest prisoners that were released in the exchange deal of October 2011. The prisoner exchange deal, which was concluded by the Israeli government and Hamas authorities on 11 October, saw the release of 1,027 Palestinian political prisoners in exchange for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. An indeterminate number of prisoners released in the exchange have since been re-arrested for various periods of time. For some of these prisoners, Israel is invoking a relatively new provision of Military Order 1651, which gives a special military committee the ability to cancel amnesty for a detainee based on secret information, further violating the individual’s right to fair trial. Under this order, prisoners who have allegedly violated the terms of their amnesty are returned to prison to serve the remainder of their original sentences. In most cases, no new charges are presented to the detainee. To date, at least six prisoners, including Samer Al-Issawi and Ayman, are being held in limbo for an indefinite period while the committee deliberates the potential return to their sentences.
Life sentences limited for seven prisoners from 1948 Territories
Of the 206 political prisoners from 1948 Territories, 19 are serving one or more life sentences. On 28 August, Israeli President Shimon Peres decided to limit the life sentence terms for seven prisoners from 1948 following the assembly of a special legal committee. For the seven prisoners, including Karim Younes, Maher Younes, Sameer Sirsawi, Walid Dakka, Saleh (Rushdie) Abu Mokh, Ibrahim Bayadseh and Ibrahim Abu Mokh, their sentences are limited to varying periods ranginf from 30 to 45 years. Karim and Maher are the two longest-held prisoners, both having been in Israeli prison for almost 30 years already. In the decision, Israel admitted that there exists discrimination against Palestinian political prisoners in this matter; for Israeli criminal prisoners sentenced under Israeli Civilian Law, life sentences are often limited to 25-30 years, but for Palestinian “security” prisoners, no life sentences have been limited.
Update on the detention of Palestinian lawmakers
Five Change and Reform Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) members were arrested during the reporting period since 15 January. The current number of imprisoned PLC members is 15 as of 30 August, with 9 of them in administrative detention. Of the current administrative detainees, seven of their orders were renewed since the agreement concluding the mass hunger strike. A number of PLC members, including 73-year old Ahmad Al-Hajj Ali, participated in various stages of the hunger strikes. In addition, Hassan Yousef was transferred to Moskobiyyeh interrogation center on 10 July and given a list of charges at the beginning of August. His administrative detention order was set to expire on 13 September, but the military prosecutor requested it be reduced to 12 August. Hassan is now on trial, along with Ahmad Mubarak, who was arrested on 15 July.
Revealing further targeting and intimidation of detained PLC members by Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF), the office of PLC members Nasser Abdel Jawad and Omar Al-Raziq were raided in Salfit at 1:30 am on 27 June. The timing directly corresponded to their two cases, as Nasser was due to be released from administrative detention that same day, and Omar was awaiting an answer from the Israeli High Court regarding his administrative detention. Two computers, financial documents, and other documents related to the PLC’s work in Salfit were all confiscated. Simultaneously, about 30-40 soldiers raided the house of the director of their office, Azzedine Fattash, and his personal computers were also confiscated. According to Mr. Fattash, the soldiers told him that there was an order to close the office. Mr. Fattash requested a written version of this order, to which the officer responded that it was a direct order from a military officer in the area. He told Mr. Fattash that if he did not respond to the order, he would face legal accountability and arrest. He also noted that Nasser was henceforward forbidden from going to the office or anywhere near it. This incident marked the fourth time this office had been raided and subjected to confiscations in the past two years. Nasser was released that day, but Omar’s administrative detention order was eventually renewed for an additional six months on 10 July.
Prisoners attacked for refusing to give DNA samples
In March, after refusing to have their DNA samples taken by the Israeli Prison Service (IPS), approximately 70 prisoners were attacked in various prisons, including 61 in Nafha prison. At least one prisoner, Jalal Al-Faqia, was transferred to a hospital after being severely beaten during the attacks. The DNA samples were then taken by force, including some instances occurring in the middle of the night. Prisoners were told that they would be punished for refusing to give the DNA samples. Similar incidents have continued throughout the reporting period.
“Welcome to Palestine” campaign and detention of international activists
On 15 April 2012, up to 2,000 international visitors were expected to arrive at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv to participate in the third “Welcome to Palestine” campaign, an initiative organized by Palestinian civil society that plans peaceful activities for visitors in the occupied West Bank. As during the previous summer, Israel’s security services compiled a blacklist of individuals that were to be banned from entering the country and passenger tickets were subsequently canceled by compliant airlines. Of the individuals who were able to get on flights to Tel Aviv, around 80 were immediately denied entry and barred from entering Israel for at least five years, including nationals from France, Spain, Italy, Canada and the United Kingdom. Two British women, who were among the over 45 individuals detained by Israeli authorities until their deportation, commenced a hunger strike following their detention in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners.
Settler violence leads to arrests of Palestinian father and sons in Laban village
The past six months has seen an increase in the number of violent attacks by Israeli settlers on nearby Palestinian villages and the continued impunity under which they act. In one such recurring case, Israeli settlers once again attacked the Daraghmeh family in the village of Laban, near Nablus on 28 August. The early morning attack involved about 30 settlers from the illegal settlements of Ma’ale Levona and Eli. During the attack on their home, the father, Khaled, 45, and his son, Jalal, 16, both initially escaped but were later arrested and are currently held in Ofer prison. The mother, her two children and their two cousins were all attacked and injured. Both Daraghmeh children were later taken to Nablus hospital. The settlers also attacked the family car, smashing its windows with rocks. About 40-50 Israeli soldiers arrived on the scene and immediately declared the area a closed military zone. One witness described overhearing an Israeli officer advising the settlers what to say following the attacks. The settlers then began attacking Palestinian cars on the main Ramallah-Nablus highway.
The Daraghmeh family has suffered from harassment and attacks by Israeli settlers for years. Earlier this year, on 25 May 2012, Khaled and his oldest son, Jamal, 22, were arrested by the IOF for allegedly attacking a soldier. Following their arrest, the mother and the remaining children moved out of the house for a period, fearing more attacks. The settlers then used this opportunity of the vacant house by attacking it, breaking the doors and windows, burning clothes and contaminating the water. On 10 June 2012, an Israeli military prosecutor submitted charges to the military court, where bail was set at 10,000 shekels for Khaled and 10,000 shekels for Jamal. However, the family was unable to pay such a large sum and both father and son remained in prison until the bail funds could be raised. Although Addameer lawyer Mahmoud Hassan provided ample evidence to show the continuous attacks by settlers on the family, and though the prosecution was unable to provide evidence that Khaled had attacked a soldier as was claimed, the military judge still found in favor of the prosecution. Both were only released after the bail amount was twice reviewed and eventually set at 10,000 shekels for Khaled and 3,500 shekels for Jamal. No settlers have been detained related to these incidents.
STOP ADMINISTRATIVE DETENTION CAMPAIGN
As of 1 August 2012, there were approximately 250 administrative detainees, 9 of whom are PLC members. This number represents a decrease since January 2012, when Israeli authorities held 322 administrative detainees without charge or trial. As of 30 August, two administrative detainees remain on hunger strike.
- Ahmad Qatamish’s administrative detention was renewed for the second time on 23 February 2012 for a period of six months, and a third time on 23 August for an additional six months. Ahmad, a prominent writer and political scientist, was arrested on 21 April 2011. His lawyer and international human rights groups assert that there is no evidence against him and that he is a prisoner of conscience. Qatamish’s case has been taken up by Amnesty International and the World Organization against Torture. Qatamish was previously held in administrative detention for a period of five and a half years from 1992-1998, making him one of the longest-serving administrative detainees held without charge in Israeli prison.
- Ayed Dudeen’s administrative detention order was renewed on 7 February for another six months and again on 9 August for an additional six months. Ayed previously spent over three and a half years in administrative detention, receiving 30 administrative detention orders before his release in June 2011. Two months later on 9 August, he was re-arrested and given another six-month administrative detention order.
- Mazen Natsheh’s administrative detention order wasrenewed for the seventh time on 3 March and for the eighth time on 3 July, for a period of four months. Mazen, the administrative secretary for a charity working with disabled persons, was arrested from his home in Hebron on 7 October 2009. He has spent a total of 8 years in Israeli prisons, 7 of them in administrative detention. Mazen suffers from colitis (an inflammation on the wall of the large intestine), a condition that requires continuous treatment, regular medical check-ups and a special diet including large amounts of fluid and fruits. Despite this, Mazen has been deemed healthy by the IPS and is therefore not entitled to a special diet or proper health care in prison, receiving only painkillers when he demands them.
As of 1 August 2012, there were approximately 210 child prisoners, 34 of which are under age 16. Over the past six months, the number of Palestinian children in Israeli detention has steadily increased. At least 311 Palestinians under the age of 18 were arrested between 1 January and 31 July.
Arrest of Palestinian-Cuban high school senior
Seventeen-year-old Qais Omran, who holds both Palestinian and Cuban nationality, was arrested along with nine other teenage boys on 18 April during a night raid by approximately 200 Israeli soldiers in the village of Burin, south of Nablus. At 2:30 am, dozens of soldiers came into Qais’ home looking for Qais, who was sleeping at his grandfather’s house. After locating Qais at his grandfather’s house, the soldiers handcuffed him and forced him to walk to the nearest settlement about two kilometers away with his hands shackled, and also forced him to run. Some soldiers played with their guns near and around his head, while another soldier yelled, “Shoot, shoot!” After spending half an hour in the settlement, he was transferred to Huwwara detention center by military jeep, where he was forced to sit in a painful manner. After reaching the detention center, Qais was put in a room and denied access to food and water, as well as use of the bathroom. Qais was then sent to interrogation in Salem interrogation center, where the interrogator attempted to pressure him into confessing that he had thrown rocks. Qais denied the allegations and is now being held in Megiddo Prison on five charges of rock throwing and a charge of being a member of an illegal organization. The prosecution did not bring these charges until 3 weeks after Qais’ arrest.
PROTECTION OF FEMALE PRISONERS
As of 30 August 2012, there were eight Palestinian women in Israeli detention in Hasharon prison inside Israel. At least 16 women were arrested by the Israeli authorities during the reporting period.
- Two women, Ola Haniyeh and Amany Kandakji, were arrested related to a Facebook page they created advocating for the rights of Palestinian prisoners. Ola, who was also charged related to participating in activism at her university, was held in interrogation for 25 days, from 26 March to 19 April. At the end of her subsequent trial on 20 June, she was sentenced to her previously-served 25 days, in addition to a five-year suspended sentence and 3,500 shekel fine. Amany was held for 9 days, from 20-29 March.
- One woman detained before the prisoner exchange deal remains in prison: Lina Jarbuni,35, who was arrested in April 2002 and sentenced to 17 years’ imprisonment.
- Salwa Hassan, 53, was sentenced to 21 months imprisonment on 11 July, with a two-year suspended sentence, and a 3,000 shekel fine.
- Alaa Juba,18, and Afnan Ramadan,22, are currently await trial. Nuseiba Jaradat, Hadeel Abu Turki, Najah Al-Qarnawi and Asma Al-Batran all remain detained before receiving charges.
- After serving a six-year sentence, Wurud Qassem, 25, was released from prison on 9 August and returned to her home in Al-Tira in the 1948 Territories.
HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS AND ANNEXATION WALL-RELATED ARRESTS
Arrests of activists engaged in demonstrations against the Wall and settlements continued during the reporting period, particularly in the villages of Nabi Saleh, Beit Ummar, Al-Ma’sara, Al-Walaja, Bil’in, Kufr Qaddum, the South Hebron Hills and areas of Jerusalem.
Bassem Tamimi released from prison
Bassem Tamimi, protest organizer and coordinator of Nabi Saleh’s popular committee, was released on bail on 24 April after over 13 months detention. Though his release was cause for celebration, it was contingent upon a number of different conditions until the end of his trial: Bassem is not permitted to leave Ramallah, and is therefore not able to return home to Nabi Saleh; he is on strict house arrest from Thursday to Saturday of every week; he is not to be present in any area where there are “confrontations”; he cannot make any statements that may be perceived as “incitement” in the media; he has already paid 12,500 NIS in bail, with an additional 25,000 NIS guaranteed if any of these conditions are not met. Bassem also attended all remaining hearings in his trial, which continued throughout May.
On 20 May, Bassem was acquitted of one central charge against him, incitement, but convicted of organizing and participating in illegal marches and soliticiting stone-throwing. On 29 May, he was sentenced to 13 months imprisonment, which was already served. Upon receiving his sentence, Bassem reportedly said, “The military court, being an instrument of occupation, sent a clear message today that Palestinian political prisoners are better off confessing to what they have not done than go to trial. I was acquitted of the bulk of the indictment against me, but served more time than my friend who chose to plead guilty to all the charges in a plea-bargain. Had I confessed to what I was not convicted of, I could have returned to my family earlier.” Bassem also received a 17-month suspended sentence, designed to further repress any political activity. Before his release, Bassem was recognized by Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience.
Kufr Qaddum, a small Palestinian village near the illegal Israeli settlement of Kdumim in the northern West Bank, recently marked the one-year anniversary of the village’s first weekly demonstration protesting the settlement expansion and theft of their land by Israel. The land area, previously 19,000 dunams, was used to expand the Kdumim settlement, leaving the residents of Kufr Qaddum with approximately only 8,000 dunams. During the reporting period, violent incidents show an increasing crackdown on the village’s peaceful resistance activites by the IOF. On 5 April 2012, 20 protesters were arrested during a night raid on the village. Around 12 houses were targeted, and those arrested ranged in ages 16-38. Two weeks prior, on 16 March, Israeli soldiers released an attack dog on Ahmad Shtawi, an unarmed Palestinian protester in the village. He was subsequently arrested, although he was bleeding and in need of medical attention. When a member of the village’s Popular Committee tried to convince the commanding officer to release the wounded man, he was thrown to the ground, pepper-sprayed and arrested.
New military order reduces time period of initial detention
Military Order 1685, the 16th amendment to Military Order 1651, which governs the arrest and detention of Palestinians by Israeli authorities, took effect on 1 August 2012, bringing certain changes to initial detention periods following arrest. According to the new order, Palestinian detainees must be brought before a judge within four days of their arrest, which can be extended in certain circumstances; previously, a Palestinian detainee could be held for up to eight days before coming before a judge. Additionally, Palestinians can be held without charge for interrogation periods for a total of 90 days, whereas previously it was for a total period of 188 days. While this is a significant reduction, it is still nearly triple the length of time an Israeli “security” prisoner can be held without charge under Israeli civilian law, which is 35 days with possibility of extension.
After the Palestinian detainee is charged, the trial must now finish within 18 months, whereas before, the trial period could last for up to two years.
UNITED NATIONS NEWS
- During the reporting period, Addameer submitted official complaints on behalf of six Palestinian political prisoners to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD), Special Rapporteur on Torture and Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders. Following a submission made in relation to former hunger striker Khader Adnan Musa, the WGAD adopted an Opinion at its 63rd Session, which was held from 30 April-4 May. The Opinion states that “the deprivation of liberty of Mr. Musa was arbitrary, being in contravention Articles 9 and 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and Articles 9 and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)” and further called on the Israeli government to conform with “standards and principles set forth in the UDHR and the ICCPR,” while confirming Mr. Musa’s enforceable rights to compensation in accordance with the ICCPR.
- Addameer also drafted an oral statement presented to the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention during the 19th regular session of the Human Rights Council.
- On 16 July, Addameer, as part of the Palestinian Council of Human Rights Organizations (PCHRO), made a submission to the Human Rights Council regarding Israel’s upcoming Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The UPR, which occurs every four years, is a review of member states’ human rights records. The submission of the PCHRO addressed a wide range of issues regarding continued Israeli human rights violations against the occupied Palestinian population, including forcible transfer, land annexation, unlawful treatment of prisoners, lack of accountability and the closure of the Gaza Strip.
- Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the oPt Richard Falk visited Egypt and Jordan from 10-20 February. During the visit, an Addameer representative met with Mr. Falk in Amman to brief him on the situation of Palestinian political prisoners. During and following his visit, Mr. Falk made extensive comments condemning the ongoing detention of Khader Adnan and the poor treatment of Palestinian prisoners as a whole.
- The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) reviewed Israel’s 14th to 16th periodic reports during its 80th session from 13 February to 9 March 2012. Addameer, along with other Palestinian human rights organizations, submitted reports to the Committee. In its concluding observations following the session, the Committee commented on Israel’s use of administrative detention, noting: “The Committee urges the State party to end its current practice of administrative detention, which is discriminatory and constitutes arbitrary detention under international human rights law.”
- Three weeks after the beginning of Palestinian prisoners’ mass hunger strike, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon expressed concern about the hunger strikers. His short statement urged a “solution without delay” and noted that administrative detainees should either be charged or released.
- Addameer lawyer Mahmoud Hassan participated in the UN meeting on the Question of Palestine in Geneva in April, discussing the role of non-governmental organizations in the Palestinian prisoners’ issue.
- The 21st regular session of the Human Rights Council will occur from 10-28 September.
- The next meeting of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention will take place from 14-23 November 2012.
EUROPEAN UNION NEWS
- Addameer has been in consistent contact with European diplomatic missions in the OPT providing regular briefings and updates, and lobbying them to intervene on behalf of Palestinian prisoners in general and the Palestinian hungers strikers in particular. Interventions by Addameer, as part of the PCHRO, were also made to the EU regarding a number of other issues, including the recent intensification of EU/Israeli relations and the ongoing use of administrative detention by Israel against Palestinian detainees.
- On 26 July 2012, the PCHRO, issued a statement condemning the failure of the EU to uphold international law by agreeing to develop cooperation with Israel by offering it 60 new activities in 15 fields. This intensification of bi-lateral relations comes at a time when the EU itself has expressed deep concern at Israeli actions on the ground, which “threaten to make a two-state solution impossible.”
- Addameer director Sahar Francis met with Council of Europe representatives in July to highlight Israel’s continued used of administrative detention. The Council of Europe is an international organization, with 47 member countries, that “seeks to develop throughout Europe common and democratic principles based on the European Convention on Human Rights and other reference texts on the protection of individuals.”
- On 3 July, the European Parliament made a joint motion for a resolution on EU policy towards the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The motion explicitly addressed Palestinian prisoners’ issues, notably calling for “ an end to the administrative detention without formal charge or trial of Palestinians by Israeli authorities, for access to a fair trial for all Palestinian detainees, and for the release of Palestinian political prisoners, with special regard for members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, including Marwan Barghouti, and administrative detainees” and “[welcoming] the agreement reached on 14 May 2012 that allowed for the end of the hunger strike of the Palestinian prisoners and [calling] for its full and immediate implementation.”
- High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission Catherine Ashton issued a brief statement via her spokesperson on 17 February expressing concern about Khader Adnan’s deteriorating health. The statement also expressed concern about Israel’s use of administrative detention as a whole.
- In October 2012, the EU Commissioner in charge of the European Neighborhood Policy will visit the OPT.
- Also in October 2012, the European Parliaments’ delegation for relations with the Palestinian Legislative Council will visit Gaza.
Israel imposes travel ban on Chairperson of Addameer’s Board of Directors
On 2 August, Israel issued a six-month travel ban to Abdullatif Ghaith, one of Addameer’s founders and Chairperson of the Board. Mr. Ghaith is a 71-year-old East Jerusalem Resident and well-known public figure resulting from his long history of human rights activism. The current order banning him from traveling abroad is in addition to an existing ban that prevents him from entering the West Bank (as defined by Israel). This West Bank ban originally came into effect on 10 October 2011 for a duration of six months, although it was subsequently extended for an additional six months in April 2012 and is now due to expire in September 2012. Both bans violate his fundamental right to freedom of movement, and fail to acknowledge the protections afforded to him as a human rights defender, as defined by the UN General Assembly. The bans also correspond with Addameer’s 20th Anniversary. Planned activities have continuously been postponed in the hopes that Mr. Ghaith will be able to attend in Ramallah.
Addameer attends international solidarity conferences
- In March, Addameer director Sahar Francis attended a conference in Colombia dedicated to the issue of political prisoners, where she presented the Palestinian case. Present at the conference were human rights organizations and prisoners’ groups from all over Latin America.
- Addameer lawyer Mahmoud Hassan attended a conference in France in July, where he met with French Palestinian solidarity groups.
- Addameer published Eyes on Israeli Military Court: A Collection of Impressions. The booklet encompasses a series of reflections on the experience of Addameer volunteers and associates who visited Israeli military courts from 2009 to 2011. The contributors were asked to write about what they saw and how they felt during their time at the court, where they witnessed hearings for Palestinians accused of stone-throwing, involvement in demonstrations and other political activities deemed an offense according to Israeli military regulations.
PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY ARREST AND DETENTION NEWS
Over a year after the signing of a reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah in Cairo, political detentions by the PA continued during the reporting period. According to Addameer’s documentation, there are currently 18 political prisoners in the West Bank. Approximately 57 political prisoners were recently released during Ramadan.
Hunger strikes in PA prisons
In addition to the hunger strikes that were undertaken by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, a number of Palestinian political prisoners in PA prisons also launched hunger strikes. Addameer documented 20 cases during the reporting period in which prisoners launched hunger strikes following the refusal of the Palestinian security services to release them in accordance with rulings by various Palestinian civil and military courts. Of the 20 hunger strikers, 17 were subsequently released. However, seven of those released were subsequently arrested by Israel a number of days later.
Crackdown on Ramallah protests
On 30 June and 1 July PA uniformed police forces and plain-clothed members of the Criminal Investigation Unit (CIU) attacked peaceful demonstrations being held against the planned visit of Deputy Israeli Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz to Ramallah. During the demonstrations, protestors and journalists were beaten with batons, punched, kicked and choked, all of which occurred in the presence of Ramallah Police Chief Abdullatif Qaddoumi and his deputy Mohammad Abu Bakr. These disturbing attacks revealed a systematic policy of violence and force to suppress peaceful demonstrations, violating the protestors’ rights to assembly and expression. Following calls from the Palestinian Council of Human Rights Organizations (PCHRO) and many others, the PA ordered an investigation into the incidents. The summary of the investigation indicated a number of conclusions and recommendations including: the uncertainty of who gave the orders to use violence against the peaceful protestors; those involved in the violence must be held accountable; the incitement against the protestors must cease; and the final report must be made public. To date only the summary has been published.
In an independent investigation conducted by the PCHRO, it was determined that high-ranking PA officials in President Abbas’ office ordered the suppression of the protests and that protestors be prevented from reaching the presidential compound. Some members of the police force have been interrogated, supposed nine of whom have been “punished,” but it is unknown what these punishments are. (Photo by Reuters/Muhammad Torokman)
Use of death penalty continues
On 18 July, three Palestinians convicted of murder were executed by hanging in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. These executions bring a total of six people who have been executed in Gaza in 2012. Two of the three have been sentenced to murder, with the other sentenced to murder and robbery. According to the family of one of those executed, 21-year-old Na’el Jamal Qandil, he confessed to the murder only after being tortured. During a visit to the prison, they noticed that Na’el’s nails had been pulled out and he had burns and bruising on his body. Palestinian law states that the President of the PA must sign all death sentences, although the current President, Mahmoud Abbas, has not signed any since 2005. In total, 24 death sentences have been carried out in Gaza and the West Bank since the establishment of the PA in 1994.