The answer is obvious, but the question is not rhetorical.
There has been a great deal [well, ok, an unusual amount] of mobilization at official levels concerning the Israeli military’s detention of Aziz Dweik [see our earlier post here] at Jaba’a Checkpoint last Thursday.
UPDATE: On Tuesday 24 January, Aziz Dweik was sentenced at Ofer Military Court to six months’ Administrative Detention. That means neither substantial accusations nor evidence is made known to the accused or to his/her lawyer [nothing beyond “being a threat to security of the area”]. The Israeli Security services just ask to speak to the Israeli military judge in a private session, and that is that. Since there are no charges and no evidence, no defense is possible, in such circumstances….
UPDATE: Also on Thursday 24 January, Israeli troops entered Ramallah — Area A, and the de facto capital of the West-bank based Palestinian Authority — to arrest yet one more Palestinian MP affiliated with Hamas, AbdulJabber Fuqara. Israeli reports citing Palestinian sources say that his wife reports that Israeli troops also confiscated papers at Fuqara’s home Thursday morning [no doubt, quite early, in the dark, before dawn, when the rest of the area is sleeping, these operations are almost always carried out] …
Administrative Detention is one of the major violations of human rights of Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation. Nearly 300 Palestinians [some 26 or 27 of them, currently about 10 percent of the total, are Palestinian members of the non-functioning Legislative Council who were elected on a Hamas-affiliated political party list].
As the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights [PCHR, based in Gaza, but no affiliate of Hamas] has reported, Dweik’s car was stopped at 20h30 at night, after work, as he was on his way home from Ramallah to Hebron. That means that Dweik had driven on the road that passes around Qalandia Checkpoint, and going out through Jaba’a checkpoint on the lane that is normally not checked by soldiers.
The lane in the direction Dweik was travelling heads out towards the roads [shared with thousands of settlers and the relatively few internationals who work in Ramallah and elsewhere in the northern West Bank] which lead to the Maale Adumim traffic circle, then through congested and garbage-strewn Abu Dis and Eizariyya [Bethany] before passing the infamous Wadi Nar [hellfire] road going south to Bethlehem and then to Hebron.
Jaba’a Checkpoint is on the feeder road that is next to Jaba’a village, facing Road 60 which brings settlers and Palestinians from the northern West Bank. It is just across from the traffic circle outside the Jewish settlement of Adam. Passing through this traffic circle is the only way for Palestinian ID holders in Palestinian cars to get from the north to the south of the West Bank. [There is also heavy settler traffic on the roads between Adam traffic circle and the Hizmeh Checkpoint at the entry to Jerusalem via the settlement of Pisgat Zeev, which the Palestinian cars — which are not allowed to enter Jerusalem either through Qalandia Checkpoint or through Hizmeh Checkpoint, must circumvent to take a more circuitous route to Maale Adumim traffic circle before continuing south. … so the term “Apartheid Road” system is not completely accurate, and is usually determined by the Checkpoint regime rather than by any other type of enforcement.]
Dweik was reportedly blindfolded and handcuffed, and eventually taken to Ofer prison — which is not even a one-star hotel — where he is apparently still being interrogated. The Jerusalem Post’s Khaled Abu Toameh reported Sunday night, here, that:
- “Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called on Sunday for the release of Abdel Aziz Dweik, speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, who was detained by the IDF last Thursday. ‘I’m not convinced that Dweik had committed any crime’, Abbas told a Russian TV station”.
So, the question is, why did Abbas have to say this to a Russian TV station [through its local correspondent in Jerusalem?], and not on Palestinian TV? Would that have been called incitement?
No one of the usual sources has raised a cry against the wave of Hamas detentions that has been going on through the past year.
If someone is a political opponent, or even if someone is labelled as being linked to a “terrorist” organization, does that mean they have no human or civil rights? Of course it does not. But, in the West Bank under occupation, it is only too easy to deprive people of the few rights that might be available to them…
The PA itself has detained Hamas members [both sides are supposed to have released “political” prisoners as part of the reconciliation deal between Fatah and Hamas, but this has not happened after two deadlines have passed, and in general the PA has said it has no “political” prisoners, only those who have committed security offenses or common crimes…]
The PA has also fired Hamas-affiliated governmental employees, including dozens of school teachers — yet Hamas members dominate many of the local municipal councils, and there is a Hamas mayor a “moderate” one] in the large northern West Bank city of Nablus.
There has been some talk about Dweik’s arrest really being motivated by Israel’s aim to block his plan to convene an imminent meeting of the dormant Palestine Legislative Council [PLC]. But Israeli arrests of Hamas members of the PLC have been going on for several years … and it is not clear why Israel would be more concerned about this now, unless it is a way to foil Hamas-Fatah reconcilation efforts.
The reconvening of the PLC s also understood to be a matter of concern to Abbas advisers, who known that the minute the PLC is convened, it may do something like decide to repeal several years of executive decisions that Abbas has been able to issue in the lack of a viable PLC. So, it became a vicious circle: so many Hamas members were in jail it was impossible to convene the necessary quorum, and even if it were to become possible, no one really wanted to deal with the unforseeable consequences.
The Khaled Abu Toameh article in the JPost also reported that Abbas said, about Dweik’s detention:
- “ ‘Frankly, this is an arbitrary detention and it’s completely illegal’, Abbas said, noting that Dweik, a top Hamas political figure in the West Bank, had been arrested a number of times in the past. The PA, meanwhile, presented Israel with a letter demanding the release of Dweik and 23 Palestinian legislators, most of whom belong to Hamas. A Palestinian official told AFP that chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat delivered the letter to Israeli envoy Yitzhak Molcho during their fourth meeting in Amman over the weekend. The PA also demanded the release of some 130 Palestinians who were jailed before the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993. In addition, the PA is demanding the release of top Fatah operative Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life terms for his role in terror attacks against Israelis; and Ahmed Sa’dat, secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – the group behind the assassination of Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze’evi in 2001. Among the Hamas legislators who are held in Israeli prison are Mahmoud Ramahi; Ahmed Haj; Ayman Daraghmeh; Nayef Rajoub; Fadel Hamdan; Mohammed Tal; Omar Abdel Razek; Mohammed Abu Teir; Mohammed Natsheh; Mohammed Abu Gehisha; Hassan Yousef; Azzam Salhab; Hatem Kafisha; Azzam Salhab; Nizar Ramadan; and Samir Qady”.
This list, if exhaustive, neatly leaves out Hussam Khader, a Fatah activist from Balata Refugee Camp in Nablus who was once part of the group known as “young Fatah” [which included Marwan Barghouthi as well as Qaddoura Fares, a long-time prisoner held by Israel in an earlier period who has since actively supported the Geneva Initiative of civil society working to advance a peace treaty and who now heads the Ramallah-based Palestinian Prisoner’s Society].
Khader has confronted and challenged the Fatah leadership for years, famously including Mahmoud Abbas during the Sixth Fatah General Conference held in Bethlehem in August 2009 — and has been considered inconvenient despite [or perhaps because of] his popular appeal.
Khader was re-arrested in a 2am raid on his home on June 2, and has been held in Israel’s Megiddo Prison, north of the West Bank, since an Israeli military judge confirmed a 6-month sentence of Administrative Detention in June, which was renewed in December at the request of the Israeli Security Services [then cut in half, to 3 months, upon the appeal of his Palestinian-Prisoner-Society lawyer Jawad Bulous, who has offices in the Galilee and in East Jerusalem]. Both in June, and again in December, the Israeli military judge did express some scepticism about the lack of concrete charges — publicly, as is usual in cases where Administrative Detention is applied to Palestinians under military law — the charges are only listed as “being a threat to safety and security in the region”. But, both times, the Israeli military judge did give in to the demands of Israeli Security Services.
It is believed, however, that Hussam Khader was questioned about his contacts with Hamas — particularly during visits to Lebanon and to Syria in 2010, during which time he believed he acted with the blessing of Mahmoud Abbas, as part of efforts to bring about Fatah-Hamas reconciliation.
So, why has Mahmoud Abbas not mentioned Hussam Khader’s detention?