UN office in Ramallah closed by protests about Palestinian prisoners

The UN office in Ramallah has been closed this morning by protesters angry about the UN’s inaction on the situation of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, particularly those held for “security” reasons under Administrative Detention procedures. Some 125 Administrative Detainees are now on the 41st day of a hunger strike to protest Administrative Detention and the conditions under which they’re being held.

A photo — Tweeted by Ahmad this morning, and posted here.

Ahmad @ANimer – .@UN office in #Ramallah is closed
#PalHunger #UNClosed pic.twitter.com/0iGCIk9vV4

UN office in Ramallah closed in Ramallah by protesters angry about lack of support to prisoners
UN office in Ramallah closed in Ramallah by protesters angry about lack of support to prisoners

The image was also Tweeted here by Diana Alzeer @ManaraRam
Outside the #UN building sprayed by activists today! UN = UNFAIR/ UNHELPFUL. UN offices are shut down today! #??_???? pic.twitter.com/ViNXZl7NbR

There was headway being made against Administrative Detention in 2012, but momentum was lost due to lack of support from some Palestinian activists who disputed its relative importance [affecting only approximately 200 people, by contrast with the 5,100 or so being held under other military court rules.

Haaretz newspaper has published an editorial here calling for a “review” of how Israel uses Administrative Detention. It’s subhead says: “Israel must…stop using it wholesale to perpetuate the occupation”.

Continue reading “UN office in Ramallah closed by protests about Palestinian prisoners”

Hussam Khader freed from 15 months in Israeli Administrative Detention

Hussam Khader, a Fatah leader and activist from Balata Refugee Camp in Nablus, was freed today from 15 months’ Administrative Detention in Israel.

His lawyer, Jawad Bulous, who was appointed by the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society headed by Qaddoura Fares, said that he had gone to Megiddo Prison in the morning to make sure that there would be no surprises. He said he left when he was sure — as sure as possible — that Hussam “will be sleeping in his own home tonight”.

Bulous explained that when Hussam had made his appeal to Israel’s Supreme Court in Jerusalem in June, after one year in Administrative Detention, the military courts had already decided to give a three-month extension, which the State Prosecutor wanted to be extended to six months. According to Bulous, the Supreme Court panel of judges who heard Hussam’s appeal had denied the six-month extension — barring, as usual, any “new discoveries” by the security forces.

As there was nothing new, Hussam had to be freed, Bulous said. And, suddenly, finally, he was free.

List of Palestinians in Israeli jails whose Administrative Detention orders have been renewed

Amnesty International has today released a new report, entitled “Starving for Justice: Palestinians Detained Without Trial by Israel”. In a press release accompanying the report, Amnesty International says that: “We believe that Israel has renewed at least 30 Administrative Detention orders + issued at least 3 new ones since this [May 15] deal was struck” — this refers to the agreement between a committee of 9 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, and the Israeli Prison Service.

Amnesty says that “Despite many media reports suggesting that Israeli authorities had agreed as part of the deal to release Admin Detainees…at end of their current orders ‘unless significant new information was received’, it’s business as usual…”

Below is a list, from this Amnesty Report, of those 30 renewals of Administrative Detention and the 3 new ones.

The Amnesty International report notes that “Israel has used its system of Administrative Detention … to trample on the human rights of detainees for decades”.

Significantly, this Amnesty International report seems to say that those Administrative Detainees who have been jailed for their political beliefs — and this would presumably include being a member of organizations banned by Israel such as Hamas or Islamic Jihad — are Prisoners of Conscience.

This is a significant category of people whose human and political rights have been violated, for whom Amnesty International mounts world-wide awareness and support campaigns.

Some Prisoners of Conscience could also fall into the category of Human Rights Defenders — a group of people the UN Human Rights Council is bound to defend.

In this report, Amnesty International “calls on Israel to stop using these measures {Admin Detention] to suppress the legitimate + peaceful activities of activists.”

Within hours, the Palestinian Authority’s [PA’s] Government Media Center, headed by Ghassan Khatib [a former PA Minister of Labor and then of Planning, who long headed the Jerusalem Media = Communications Center] issued a statement saying that “we welcome this clear statement that Israel uses detention without trial to prevent Palestinians exercising their right to peaceful protest against the illegal occupation of Palestinian land”.

“Peaceful protest against the illegal occupation of Palestinian land” is a tactic and policy formally adopted by the PA Government headed by Salam Fayyad — and it is also endorsed by Palestinian President and head of Fateh, Mahmoud Abbas, himself, though there is precious little, really minimal, official backing of such protest.

However, that is not the only reason Israel uses “detention without trial”, terminology also used by Amnesty International at least once in this new report on Administrative Detention.

Israel seems to be using Administrative Detention primarily against those Palestinians accused of membership in organizations that Israel not only has declared “illegal” but also “terrorist” — particularly Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Khatib himself scrupulously avoids using the words “Administrative Detention”… why?

The PA’s Government Media Center statement notes that “Dr. Khatib stressed that the abuse of prisoners is even worse than this report, as it does not address in detail all the violations of Palestinian prisoners that are contrary to international conventions and laws on the protection of the rights of prisoners of war”.

As the Palestinian government always does [while it does very little, saying its hands are tied etc.], it again here calls on the international community to act, and “calls on the international community to take action to end – and not merely condemn – the torture, detention without trial and other abuses highlighted by the Amnesty International report ‘Starved of justice: Palestinians detained without trial by Israel‘.”

In remarks attributed directly to Ghassan Khatib, the Government Media Center statement says: “This important report exposes human rights abuses practiced by Israel against Palestinian prisoners, and requires immediate and practical steps to implement its recommendations, the most important of which is to release prisoners immediately or given them a fair trial. Amnesty has made clear to the world how Israel breaks international law and breaks agreements with impunity. As this report states, Israel is already breaking the agreement it made to end the recent hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners … The torture of Palestinian prisoners should cause outrage even among those who support Israel. Israel can continue these shameful practices only as long as it feels safe from any serious international action to call it to account. This impunity must end.”

Here is the list, from the Amnesty International report, published here of those persons known to Amnesty International whose Administrative Detention has been extended, as well as 3 who are jailed under Administrative Detention orders for the first time:

PALESTINIANS WHOSE ADMINISTRATIVE DETENTION ORDERS HAVE BEEN RENEWED OR ISSUED BETWEEN 14 AND 31 MAY 2012

    Amnesty International has received the names of 30 Palestinian administrative detainees whose detention orders have been renewed and three who had been issued with new orders since the deal ending the mass hunger strike was signed on 14 May.

    New orders:
    1.) Sameeh Eleiwi
    2.) ‘Ala Fahmi Za’qeeq
    3.) Mohammed Saeed Ali Ba’aran

    Renewed orders:
    1.) Mohammed Maher Bader (PLC member)
    2.) Abdel Rahman Zidan (PLC member)
    3.) Ahmed al-Haj Ali (PLC member)
    4.) Mohammed Jamal Natsha (PLC member)
    5.) Nayef Mohammed al-Rajoob (PLC member)
    6.) Khalid Tafish (PLC member)
    7.) Hasan Youssef (PLC member)
    8.) Samir Qadi (PLC member)
    9,) Mohammed Ghazal (university lecturer)
    10.) Hussam Mohsen al-Raza
    11.) Samer al-Barq
    12.) Mohammed Karam al-Qadi
    13.) Rashad Ahmad Abd al-Rahman
    14.) Falah Taher Nada
    15.) Aziz Haroon Kayed
    16.) Shafiq Qawasmi
    17.) Khalil Abu Matar
    18.) Ahmad Assida
    19.) Mohamed Ali Abu al-Rob
    20.) Salah Nada
    21.) Hassan Shtayyeh
    23.) Sajed Militaat
    24.) Rida Khaled
    25.) Hussam Harb
    26.) Abdel Basset al-Hajj
    27.) Yassir Badrasawi
    28.) Farouq Tawfiq Musa
    29.) Hussam Khader [n.b., Hussam Khader of Fateh was elected to PLC in 1999, but jailed during 2006 elections so he could not present his candidacy]
    30.) Hussein Abu Kweik
    31.) Tareq al-Sheikh

Administrative Detention order for Hussam Khader renewed for another 6 months — UPDATED

Late Thursday, the Israeli military’s Administrative Detention order against Hussam Khader, a Fatah activist from the Balata Refugee Camp in Nablus, was renewed for 6 months, following his appeal to the Israeli High Court of Justice the day before. Perhaps more significantly, it comes after the 15 May agreement between Israel and Palestinian prisoners that was understood to have included a decision that current Administrative Detention orders would not be extended.

Despite his appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court on Wednesday, filed on his behalf by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Prisoners’ Society/Club, and his own personal statement made in the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, Hussam Khader was informed late Thursday that his Administrative Detention will not end on 2 June, as he had hoped.

On Friday, Khader’s lawyer, Attorney Jawad Bulous, confirmed by phone the six-month renewal of the Administrative Detention order, but said he could not give more details because he was on the other line.

    UPDATE: On Saturday evening, Mr. Bulous explained that the Israeli Attorney General had told him, during Hussam Khader’s Court hearing on Wednesday, that the State of Israel wanted Hussam Khader’s Administrative Detention extended for another six months — but would not be requesting a renewal after that. In the Supreme Court’s ruling, the judges noted this position of the State in their rejection of the appeal.

    Mr. Bulous said that this has led him, and the Palestinian Prisoners Society/Club to conclude that it is necessary to report this matter to the Egyptian mediator who was involved in the May 15 prisoners’ agreement, and to inform the Egyptian mediator that Israel is not abiding by the terms agreed on ending the current terms of Administrative Detention for those 322 [or 308s ] Palestinian prisoner now in Israeli jails.

    “Israel is totally behaving as if nothing was reached by the Egyptian mediator”, Mr. Bulous said. “I’m afraid they are not abiding with the general decision we had with the Egyptians”.

    Mr Bulous noted that in two other appeals of current Administrative Detainees he took to Israel’s High Court, those of Jaafar Azzedine and of Mahmoud Ramahi, the Israeli State Attorney told the Court that there the current Administrative Detention orders of these two men, which expire in July, would not be extended.

This seems to go against the sense of the Court in its other recent decisions on Administrative Detention. And it raises a real question: What purpose can it serve for the State of Israel to tell the Court that it needs to keep Hussam Khader in Israeli jail for another six month’s term of Administrative Detention? Why did the Supreme Court just say OK? Is it OK that this next six-month’s order will be the end of it, and Hussam Khader will be released by the end of 2012? This action seems to confirm the impression that the request emanates from political echelons, for political purposes — while the Court has indicated that security reasons [only] can justify such a drastic measure.

Hussam Khader’s appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court was heard by a panel of judges headed by Justice Elyakim Rubenstein, who had also heard — and rejected — the appeals on 3 May of Thaer Halahleh and Bilal Diab, who were on the 70th day or so of hunger strikes against their Administrative Detention orders.

In his appearance for his appeal at the Israeli Supreme Court in Jerusalem, Hussam Khader called on the Court to release him, according to Attorney Bulous, because the Administrative Detention orders were “illegal, brutal, and had no justification”.

    The BBC reported on 7 May that:
    “In his decision, Judge Elyakim Rubinstein expressed concern over their deteriorating condition, and referred the military authorities to a legal clause which could allow their release on medical grounds, AFP reported … Judge Rubinstein said that although the practice of administrative detention caused him ‘great discontent’, it was ‘necessary when the material regarding the petitioner is intelligence material, the exposure of which would harm its conveyor or the methods in which it was obtained’ … Such detainees’ cases could be examined by ‘a jurist acceptable to the detainees, who would receive the sufficient security approval… [and] who could examine the material on their behalf’, he added”. This BBC story is published here.

Hussam Khader was taken from his house in a raid on 2 June 2011, and was sentenced to a term of six months Administrative Detention, in which exact charges and evidence are kept secret from the detainee as well as his lawyer, so no defense is possible.

The generic charges which are always made to justify Administrative Detention are: “posing a threat to public security and safety”.

In Hussam Khader’s case, there seems to be some suggestion that he is a member or supporter of Hamas — though he is a well-known leader in Fatah.

The accusation is very strange. After earlier being banned from travel after his previous release from Israeli jail in September 2008 [a year ahead of time, on “good behavior”], he was a delegate at the 6th Fatah General Conference in Bethlehem in August 2009. He clashed in an opening session with Palesinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, and also lost in his bid for a seat on the Fateh Central Council. He then publicly backed Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, and later tried to repair his relations with Abbas.

Sometime in 2010, Khader was suddenly allowed to travel, and he went to Lebanon and then to Damascus to attend conferences. There, in the context of national reconciliation efforts, he met with Hamas figures, including Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal.

Apparently, Hussam Khader had informed Mahmoud Abbas about this in advance, and had Abbas’s blessing in the contacts — to the extent that he apparently felt that he was acting as Abbas’ representative.

These contacts were not conducted in secret, but were discussed with a number of people, including journalists who reported them in Arabic-language media.

Since his Administrative Detention order last June, Hussam Khader has been jailed in Megiddo Prison in Israel’s Galilee, just outside the northern edge of the West Bank.

In December 2011, the Administrative Detention order against Hussam Khader was extended for another six months. Upon appeal submitted by Attorney Jawad Bulous, who is under retainer to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society, the six-month extension was reduced to three months.

Then, in February, the three-month term was extended for another three months — making it, as originally ordered, a second six-month term. This is part of what Palestinians say is the emotionally-destructively capricious cruelty of Administrative Detention, which is viewed with horror as one of the worst possible punishments of the military occupation.

After the agreement reached on 17 May to end the hunger strikes being carried out by Palestinian prisoners, it was reported that part of the agreement entailed a decision not to extend the existing Administrative Detention orders against any of the current 308 Palestinian detainees — unless there were “serious matters” contained in the secret files compiled by Israeli intelligence against them.

During the past week or so, there have been a series of scattered reports that current Administrative Detention orders were being extended.

    On 16 May, Ma’an News Agency reported that:
    “Prisoners society official Qaddura Fares told Ma’an the document outlines the core issues, while further details will be agreed in talks between prisoners representatives and the Israeli authorities. The agreement is a ‘successful victory’, he said, while warning that it is ‘not clear enough’ on the issue of detention without charge … Meanwhile, Israel committed not to renew the administrative detention of all 322 [n.b. other sources than Ma’an report the number as 308] Palestinians held without charge if there is no new information that requires their imprisonment, he noted. However, Fares warned: ‘Who can check this new information? … no one can be sure’.” This Ma’an News Agency story is posted here.

That is, no one can be sure if it is solid information from real sources — or if it is concocted reports of persons who might be intent on getting revenge against the accused for one reason or another.

There are many Palestinians who believe, simply, that people like Hussam Khader are being jailed with the assent, if not the active complicity, of officials in the Palestinian Authority who want them off the streets so they cannot run as candidates if and when the next elections are held in the Palestinian territory.

Continue reading “Administrative Detention order for Hussam Khader renewed for another 6 months — UPDATED”

Hussam Khader's appeal against Administrative Detention taken to Israel's High Court of Justice in Jerusalem today

Hussam Khader’s appeal against his Administrative Detention was heard this morning by Israel’s Supreme Court in Jerusalem…

There has been no decision yet, it seems.

This will be a first test of whether or not there has been any progress, as a result of the agreement to end the prisoners’ hunger strike actions, in limiting the use of Administrative Detention orders [given to Palestinians by Israeli military courts in the West Bank] to exceptional cases in exceptional circumstances, as human rights organizations have urged.

Jawad Bulous, an Israeli Arab/Palestinian attorney from the Galilee who has offices in East Jerusalem and who is retained by the Ramallah-basedPalestinian Prisoners Society/Club, presented the case to Israel’s Supreme Court on Tuesday. Bulous urged Supreme Court Judge Elyakim Rubenstein to widen the small window that he opened when he presided over the Court’s consideration of the appeals of Thaer Halahleh and Bilal Diab.

He reportedly noted that Hussam Khader has been in jail on an Administrative Detention order for nearly a year already.

In recent rulings, the Israeli Supreme Court has noted that Administrative Detention is an order that should be used to prevent a danger from happening — and not to punish for past actions — so one term should be considered enough to have served the purpose. The Court has suggested that terms of Administrative Detention should not be renewed automatically, or easily, without higher review.

Hussam Khader was given an initial order from an Israeli military court for six months Administrative Detention, which was renewed in December for another six months. Upon appeal by Jawad Bulous on behalf of the Palestinian Prisoners Society/Club, that six months’ renewal was reduced to three months. In February, however, it was re-extended for another three months — and this uncertainty is a major part of the torment of Administrative Detention.

Hussam Khader, a Fatah leader from Balata Refugee Camp in Nablus, whose family is originally from Jaffa, appeared in person before the Supreme Court in Jerusalem. In brief remarks to the judges, he expressed the hope that they would understand the nature of his case, and give him justice.

Qaddoura Fares, head of the Palestinian Prisoners Society/Club in Ramallah, explained n a conversation on Tuesday that a close reading of the decisions of the Supreme Court in recent Prisoners Club cases suggests an awareness that there is something “embarassing” about the way Administrative Detention has been used.

In three recent cases, the Israeli High Court justices have commented that the aim of Administrative Detention should be to remove an immediate danger, which cannot reasonably be said to exist if an Administrative Detainee has been sitting in jail for six months…

Welcoming the agreement to end Palestinian prisoners' hunger strikes

Ahmad Nimer’s photos from Ramallah on 14 May 2012 as prisoner deal announced. [An album of his recent photos is posted here]:

Palestinian women welcome news that agreement was reached to end prisoner hunger strike in exchange for Israeli concessions
Palestinians in Ramallah welcome agreement ending prisoner hunger strike

Palestinians in Ramallah welcome deal ending prisoner hunger strikes

Some of the activists who helped make it happen join the celebration

Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Organization reported some details of the agreement here, today:

    “The details of the agreement signed last night by the prisoners’ committee representing the hunger strikers was recounted today to Addameer lawyer Fares Ziad in his visit to Ahed Abu Gholmeh, who is a member of the committee, and to Addameer lawyer Mahmoud Hassan during his visit to Ahmad Sa’adat in Ramleh prison medical clinic, who conveyed what he was told last night when members of the committee came to Ramleh to announce the end of the hunger strike.

    According to Ahed Abu Gholmeh, the nine members of the hunger strike committee met yesterday with a committee consisting of IPS officials and Israeli intelligence officers and determined the stipulations of their agreement. The written agreement contained five main provisions: the prisoners would end their hunger strike following the signing of the agreement; there will be an end to the use of long-term isolation of prisoners for ‘security’ reasons, and the 19 prisoners will 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’ will be reinstated within one month; the Israeli intelligence agency guarantees that there will be a committee formed to facilitate meetings between the IPS and prisoners in order to improve their daily conditions; there will be no new administrative detention orders or renewals of administrative detention orders for the 308 Palestinians currently in administrative detention, unless the secret files, upon which administrative detention is based, contain ‘very serious’ information.

    For the five administrative detainees on protracted hunger strikes, including Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahleh, who engaged in hunger strike for a miraculous 77 days, their administrative detention orders will not be renewed and they will be released upon the expiration of their current orders. These five have been transferred to public hospitals to receive adequate healthcare during their fragile recovery periods. In regards to Israel’s practice of administrative detention as a whole, Ahmad Sa’adat further noted that the agreement includes limitations to its widespread use in general. Addameer is concerned that these provisions of the agreement will not explicitly solve Israel’s lenient and problematic application of administrative detention, which as it stands is in stark violation of international law”.

Continue reading “Welcoming the agreement to end Palestinian prisoners' hunger strikes”

Hope – Lives have been saved

Reports came from Egypt last night, from Gaza this morning, from Ramallah this evening, and Israel tonight that some kind of deal had been agreed by Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike to end their action in exchange for Israeli concessions on their demands.

The news came as 4 of 8 Palestinian prisoners protesting their Administrative Detention have been on hunger strike for over 70 days [2 of them for 78 days]. There are currently 308 Palestinian Administrative Detainees in Israeli jails.

In addition, some 1600 or so other Palestinian prisoners started their own hunger strike on 17 April, which included support for the Palestinian Administrative Detainees — but which also demanded an end to extensive periods of isolation in solitary confinement for others, and an end to the ban on family visits to prisoners from Gaza, as well as a repeal of punitive measures put in place as reprisal for the conditions that Gilad Shalit was held in, in Gaza, for some five years.

By email from the Israeli Government Press Office tonight came this toughly-worded communication by the Israel Prison Service: “End of the Hunger Strike by Security Prisoners”. [A link was given to a Hebrew-language website, here]. Here is an annotated version of the text:

“1. This afternoon (Monday), 14.5.12, the security prisoners stopped their hunger strike after 28 days. [Note: 99.9 percent of Palestinian prisoner in Israel jails are classified as “security prisoners”.  The collective hunger strike action began on 17 April, which Palestinians mark as Prisoner’s Day.  But individual hunger strikes to protest orders of Administrative Detention, following the unprecendented example of Khader Adnan, who is now free, began 78 days ago.   And 7 or 8 Palestinians in advanced stages of  hunger strikes, 3 of them over 70 days, 2 on Day 78,  are in the Ramleh prison clinic.]

2. The declaration regarding the end of the strike was made possible in the wake of the understandings that have been formulated in recent days, the main point of which is the security prisoners’ signature on a commitment not to engage in terrorism inside the prison walls in exchange for various easements in several areas, including the return of prisoners held in separation to the prison wings and the possibility of first degree relatives’ visits to prisoners from Gaza[Note, I personally am bursting with curiosity to know what kind of “terrorism” was going on inside the secure walls of the Israeli Prison System which will now stop, as part of this deal.  Was it the hunger strikes?  Is it the smuggling of sim cards and mobile phones?]

3. Pursuant to the ISA [Israel Security Agency] statement regarding the understandings, following are several additional points [Note: we did not receive the ISA statement, but the New York Times did — see lower in this post]:

A. An inter-ministerial committee chaired by the Israel Prison Service Commissioner, and with the participation of representatives from the Justice, Foreign and Health ministries, as well as from the IDF (Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories and the Judge Advocate General), the Israel Security Agency, the National Security Council and the Israel Police, evaluated the significance of the prisoners’ requests and issued a serious of recommendations to the political echelon.
B. Before the strike, the Israel Prison Service Commissioner appointed an additional team to evaluate the prisoners’ requests regarding their prison living conditions; in the wake of the halt to the strike, several actions will be carried out regarding which positive decisions have been taken.
C. The decisions of the committee were shown to prisoners who did not strike, thus preventing their joining and expanding the strikers.
D. It should be pointed out that throughout the strike, the strikers were under close medical care and received professional treatment as necessary, including check-ups and hospitalization according to need.
E. Upon the conclusion of the strike, the medical monitoring will continue in order to prevent possible complications from an unsupervised return to eating.
F. Security deployment in the prisons and dialogue with the strikers throughout the period prevented a worsening of the situation including possible violent scenarios.
G. Throughout the strike, the Israel Prison Service took care regarding prisoners’ rights according to law and acted with complete transparency vis-à-vis official oversight agencies”.

Seriously, what could the Israeli Prison Services mean when they said the prisoners had signed a “commitment not to engage in terrorism inside the prison walls”? What terrorism is going inside the prison walls? This we would really like to know.

From the New York Times, we learn that “Israel’s internal security agency, known as the Shin Bet, said in a statement on Monday that the agreement became possible after the prisoners made a commitment ‘to completely halt terrorist activity inside Israeli prisons’, and ‘to refrain from all activity that constitutes practical support for terrorism, including recruiting people for terrorist activity, guidance, financing, coordinating among recruits, aiding recruits’, and related activities”. This is reported here.

The NYTimes also reported that “Israeli officials said they had made no commitment to end the practice of incarceration without formal charges or a trial, known as administrative detention, and that current administrative detainees would serve out their terms. But Issa Qaraqe, the minister of prisoner affairs for the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, said earlier on Monday that there were understandings that the terms of the roughly 300 prisoners being held without charges would not be extended … Last week, Israel’s Supreme Court rejected appeals for the immediate release of Mr. Diab and Mr. Halahleh, but the judges expressed reservations about any extension of their terms without further investigation and better judicial oversight”.

The 1,600 or so prisoners with the multiple demands are said to be waiting to see if Israel will fulfill its part of the deal.
Then, a bit after midnight, this news started to come in, via Twitter:
Al-Jazeera’s Rana Zabaneh – @RZabaneh:“#PalHunger: #ThaerHalahleh told his father he will end his hunger strike to be released on June 5”

Gaza Youth Break Out – @GazaYBO:
Lawyer Jawad Boulos: Thaer Hlahalh; Bilal Diab Stopped the strike after an agreement 2 end the AD; will be released on #June5.

Linah Alsaafin – @LinahAlsaafin:
“#BilalThiab according to what #ThaerHalahleh’s dad told me will be released August 17 after his administrative detention ends #PalHunger”

Maath Musleh @MaathMusleh :
“AD on hunger strike will end hunger strike in the morning when they receive official papers to confirm their detention will not be renewed!”

No one died. This is a major achievement.

No news about two Palestinian hunger strikers on Day 75 [or is it 74? or 76?] – UPDATED

This is the Israeli weekend, and the Jewish Shabbat [Sabbath], and there is no news about two Palestinian Administrative Detainees in Israeli jail, Thaer Halahleh and Bilal Diab, on what is Day 75 [or is it Day 74? or is it possibly even Day 76?] of their open-ended hunger strike, a very critical day to protest the Israeli military court orders confining them to Administrative Detention — where the evidence is not shown to the accused or to their lawyers, so no defense is possible.

These two hunger-strikers, on the longest continuous self-deprivation action in Palestinian history, are reportedly still in Ramleh prison clinic, rather than in a regular independent civilian hospital.

In recent days, Halahleh has been exceptionally permitted to send letters that have been unusually rapidly delivered. The last one was to his wife, asking her forgiveness.

The Independent reports that “In his letter to his wife, Shireen, dated 8 May, he writes: ‘I cannot describe with words my love for you. I am doing this for the sake of God and my homeland, for [you] and my daughter Namar [Lamar]. Take care of her and take care of your health… and forgive me’. Arrested two weeks before Namar was born, he has held his infant daughter for only five minutes, as family visits are conducted via telephone”… [And, with a glass wall between the prisoner and his visitor.]

Now, another letter from Halahleh was delivered [yesterday?] to their only child, their daughter Lamar.

Continue reading “No news about two Palestinian hunger strikers on Day 75 [or is it 74? or 76?] – UPDATED”

Day 70 [or Day 69?] of historic hunger strike of two Palestinians protesting Israeli military orders of Admininstrative Detention

Today is Day 70 [or is it Day 69?] of a historic hunger strike by two Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahleh.

The two men are protesting the Israeli military orders of Administrative Detention under which they have been seized and kept prisoner without their [or their lawyers] knowing the details of any evidence that Israeli secret services may have against them. In such a situation, no defense is possible.

Even the exact details of the charges or accusations are not known, just the generic reason always given in cases of Administrative Detention, which is: “posing a threat to security in the area”

There is apparently no record of anyone surviving a hunger strike longer than 75 days.

These two men appeared in Israel’s Supreme Court in Jerusalem last Thursday [3 May] for a hearing on their appeal of the Administrative Detention orders. One of them, Bilal Diab, fainted and could not speak. Here is a photo of Bilal Diab inside the Supreme Court chambers:

Photo of Bilal Diab in Israeli Supreme Court in Jerusalem at appeal hearing on 3 May
Photo taken by @thameenaHusary and viewed on Twitter via @Occupy2gether here.

Today, the Israeli Supreme Court declined giving any decision on their appeal, reportedly declining to be involved.

Continue reading “Day 70 [or Day 69?] of historic hunger strike of two Palestinians protesting Israeli military orders of Admininstrative Detention”

Hana Shalabi after six weeks of hunger strike is sent to Gaza for three years exile

In an awful twist, Palestinian female prisoner Hana Shalabi is being sent to Gaza, as this post is being written, via Israel’s Erez Terminal, after a 43-day hunger strike that has put her life into danger.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has reportedly made arrangements to bring her family — from the West Bank, a significant Israeli concession — to say a brief goodbye as Hana is sent through the frightful Erez locked gates and long corridors devoid of any human presence except through remote Israeli security cameras.

Reuters reported in the evening that “Shalabi arrived in Gaza before nightfall in an ambulance, after a tearful farewell with family members who saw her at Gaza’s Erez crossing with Israel before she was deported, medics who escorted her said”.   This report was posted here.

Her crossing apparently took place just before sunset, sometime between 17h00 and 18h00.

This Reuters photo is now posted on the Ma’an News Agency website:
Hana Shalabi at Erez Terminal on 1 April 2012.

Ma’an reported here that officials said Shalabi’s “Relatives were allowed to meet with her for an hour”.

Hana Shalabi — who Israeli government spokespersons say is a member of Islamic Jihad — was already jailed for about three years under Israeli Administrative Detention rules.   She was released in October in the recent prisoner swap that returned captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit from Gaza after five years.  Then, she was suddenly re-arrested by the IDF and taken in a pre-dawn raid at her father’s home in the West Bank in early February.

In Israeli Administrative Detention, a military judge issues an order for periods that are usually six months long and renewable.  The only evidence is discussed in private between the Israeli military judge and Israeli security personnel, who provide supposedly secret evidence that neither the person under arrest nor his or her attorney will see.  Without knowing the evidence,  no defense is possible.  The only charges that are made public are “posing a threat to the security and peace of the region”.

    Highlighting another aspect to this story, Ali Abunimah wrote here, on his Electronic Intifada website that “I have already noted that while Hana was being held without charge or trial, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official spokesman Ofir Gendelman was using Twitter to defame and smear her – while she is denied any right to respond to these or any other accusations”. Something similar happened earlier, with Khader Adnan. But Ofir Gendelman has taken a lead on the Hana Shalabi case. Just today, Gendelman [@ofirgendelman], who works for the Prime Minister of Israel, Benyamin Netanyahu, and has identified his Twitter account as “official”, wrote the following Tweets: “#HanaShalabi is a terrorist who planned to kill innocent people” … “#HanaShalabi, an Islamic Jihad terrorist, was arrested because she planned terrorist attacks against Israelis. This is a war crime” … “Israel will not compromise on the security of its citizens. This is why Islamic Jihad terrorist #HanaShalabi was deported to Hamas in Gaza“. In his enthusiam for the task, Gendelman also Tweeted that “After she relocates to Gaza, she will not endanger any Israelis anymore” … “#HanaShalabi has committed to relinquish violence. If she does resume her terrorist activities w/ the Islamic Jihad, she will be re-arrested“. And, in a handly little description of Israeli Administrative Detention, Gendelman Tweeted that “evidence against #HanaShalabi came from intel, hence admin detention: a tool against terror when evidence is intel“. All of this is based on “intel”, Gendelman writes — suggesting that he has had privileged access to it. And, though none of this information has been made public, and Hana Shalabi therefore has no way to answer these accusations, Gendelman is using his official position to make accusations based on information that he implies is privileged, and that cannot be refuted because it is secret.

    If Gendelman has had priviliged access to “intel” presented to an Israeli military court in the West Bank, this would appear to be a serious misuse of official position. Or, is there no separation of powers in the Israeli system of government?

    If Gendelman is merely repeating what he has been told, without any checking to see if it might be accurate or not, then he is indulging in propaganda in a way that is unworthy of an official working in the office of the Prime Minister of a democratic country that runs by rule of law.

    And, there is a serious logical [and propagandistic] flaw in his argumentation: seriously, how can @OfirGendelman, adviser to PM Netanyahu, use his Twitter “official account” to claim secret “intel” proves someone plots war crimes? And then, at the same time, after #HanaShalabi enters Gaza, @Ofirgendelman writes: “After she relocates to Gaza, she will not endanger any Israelis anymore”…

The agreement that requires Hana Shalabi to go to Gaza for three years was previously proposed and rejected by her weeks ago.

The sudden announcement that she had reconsidered and accepted going to Gaza was made on 28 March — after several days when neither her lawyers nor the independent medical doctor

This morning, Addameer said that that it learned Shalabi would be sent to Gaza today.

In a joint statement in the afternoon, Addameer and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-Israel) said they were

    “alarmed at the announcement that Hana Shalabi will be expelled to the Gaza Strip today, only three days after purportedly ending her 43-day hunger strike. Addameer and PHR-Israel condemn the Israeli Prison Service (IPS)’s denial of access to both parties to visit Ms. Shalabi in the days leading up to the deal for her release and expulsion to the Gaza Strip and since the deal was reportedly finalized on 29 March…

    Continue reading “Hana Shalabi after six weeks of hunger strike is sent to Gaza for three years exile”