An Israeli military judge in Ofer Military Prison/Court has halved the extension of Hussam Khader’s sentence of Administrative Detention — a victory of sorts.
So, instead of serving a second 6-month [renewable] sentence of Administrative Detention in an Israeli jail, as determined two weeks ago in Ofer, the Israeli military judge reduced Hussam Khader’s present term to just 3 months [December, January + February].
One has to ask, however, why Hussam Khader is now serving any time at all…
According to news reports and to Hussam Khader’s family, this was done as a result of an appeal filed by his lawyer, Jawad Bulous. Bulous, who has offices in East Jerusalem as well as in his home town in Israel’s Galilee, has been retained by the Palestinian Prisoners Society or Club, headed by Qaddura Fares in Ramallah.
Hussam Khader, a Fatah leader and activist from the Balata Refugee Camp in Nablus, who was born in 1961, was taken from home and his terrified family in a 2am raid on 2 June this year.
This one-hour night raid on 2 June was unusual because it was conducted by massive numbers of armed Israeli forces operating in near-total SILENCE — which we reported on earlier, here,
It was Hussam Khader’s 25th arrest by Israeli military forces in the last 35 years.
Hussam was also deported by Israeli forces, once, dumped onto Lebanese soil, during the First Intifada, and returned five years later as the Oslo Accords went into effect.
He was imprisoned for six years during the Second Intifada — when he was a member [elected in 1999 balloting] of the Palestine Legislative Council [PLC] set up under the Oslo Accords — on charges of somehow funnelling Iranian funding to Fatah militants, which he denied. After interrogation during a near-legendary 45-day period of sleep deprivation in 2003, and further months of extended interrogations, Hussam says he accepted a plea bargain to end the torture and possibly reduce the time he would be separated from his family. He later said he was told by Israeli officials that the dossier that was used to convict him was compiled by Palestinian Authority or PA Security officials.
He was sentenced to serve six years in Israeli jail. He was released a year early, in September 2008, for “good behavior”.
Because he was in jail during the 2006 PLC elections, Hussam has not been an elected MP in recent years, but continues his political campaigning.
He is most known for opposing PA “corruption” — and was defeated when he ran for membership in the Fatah Central Committee in the movement’s Sixth General Conference [the first in 18 years] in Bethlehem in August 2009. There was a clash in the Conference’s supposedly closed-to-the-press opening session, when Hussam rose from his seat in the audience to ask Mahmoud Abbas, who was presiding, about various matters.
Abbas interrupted Hussam and told him to “sit down and shut up”.
I asked Hussam in the Peace Center Bethlehem’s Manger Square [opposite Nativity Church] set up for media during the Fatah Sixth Conference, what he did. “I sat down and shut up”, he told me. Why did you do that, I asked? “Out of respect”, he answered.
But, he then went out of the conference and up to Manger Square, where he gave serial interviews to every television camera and crew set up on the site, and then moved to the print media seated inside the Peace Center…
Hussam also told me, a few days later, that his greatest regret was the price his family had paid — and he said he had promised them, when he was released from Israeli jail the previous September, that he would make up to each of them for the five years without them during his imprisonment.
He lost the election in the Sixth Fatah Conference in Bethlehem, but did not leave Fatah. He worked for months, years, to repair some of his relations with the Fatah leadership and, despite his contacts with members of other Palestinian groups including Hamas, he strongly backed the Abbas-appointed PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
As Fatah-Hamas reconciliation contacts continued in the spring of this year, Hussam Khader made headlines in the Palestinian and international media, with statements expressing hope for national unity combined with scepticism, but always urging that Salam Fayyad be kept in office in any transitional technocratic government.
Then, just under a month after a reconcilation agreement was signed by Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas Politbureau Chief Khaled Meshaal in Cairo [on 4 May this year], Hussam was rearrested in the eerie and terrifying silent night raid on his home.
He was held in the IDF military base in Huwwara for over a week, then transferred to the Israeli military court in Salem. Weeks later, with his two teenage daughters and his just-teenage son in Court, and while Hussam was waiting in a nearby room without seeing his children — and even without being brought in to face the Judge — he was sentenced to six months of Administrative Detention.
Administrative Detention is a phenomena of the Israeli military occupation of Palestinian territory since June 1967. In Administrative Detention cases, the evidence and even the precise charges against the Palestinian accused are kept secret — making any defense completely impossible.
In cases of Administrative Detention, the only information given to the Palestinian accused, and to his or her lawyer[s], are that they are believed to be “threats to peace and security in the area”…
Meantime, it is interesting to note that Hussam Khader was not allowed to travel, in the first year following his release from Israeli jail in September 2008. He was not informed about any restrictions on his activities after his release [on “good behavior”], so he was shocked and outraged when he was stopped at Allenby Bridge when he tried to depart to address a conference in Germany to which he had been invited.
Somehow, and apparently without much further information being officially communicated to him, Hussam tried again to leave [in late 2010? ] to attend conferences in Lebanon and Syria. There was no problem. He was not stopped. He went, and he came back, safely and without any problem, on two separate occasions.
It appeared that this travel may have been eased because he was going with the blessing of — and perhaps as an envoy of — Mahmoud Abbas…
The first trip was in the Summer of 2010, to a Conference in Damascus. The second trip was in November 2010, to a meeting in Lebanon on Palestinian refugees.
Hussam was thrilled, overjoyed, at the apparent restoration of his freedom — at least, to the extent possible under occupation.
Now, however, it appears that the reason for his terrifying re-arrest in June 2011 — and for the seven months he has now spent mostly in Israel’s Megiddo Prison north of the West Bank — are contacts he had with other attendees at and around these conferences, including with members of Hamas, many months earlier.
These contacts were not secret. Hussam talked about them publicly.
It seems that Hussam Khader may have been jailed, since June [a month after Mahmoud Abbas signed the Palestinian reconciliation agreement with Khaled Meshaal in Cairo], because of these contacts which were somehow approved by Mahmoud Abbas …
If these contacts were a security threat to Israel, there is no doubt that such a long time would have passed before any Israeli action.
This suggests that it is not Israel which feels Hussam is a “security threat”…
And, so far, no one in the Palestinian leadership — particularly, not Mahmoud Abbas — has said anything about Hussam Khader’s Administrative Detention.