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:


    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…

Do Hamas members + supporters have human, civil rights in the West Bank?

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?

Hussam Khader: extension of continued Administrative Detention halved under appeal to Israeli Military Court

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.

Hussam Khader brought to Ofer Prison hearing, returned to Megiddo Prison

There are a couple of ways to approach this story.

One is to explain that Hussam Khader, a well-known Fatah activist, who was taken into custody by a very large group of masked IDF forces who raided his home at 2am the very beginning of June, was brought yesterday to Ofer Prison along Road 443 between Qalandia checkpoint and Modi’in for an Israeli military court hearing on whether or not to enact a request — already granted in principle — from an Israeli military prosecutor, to send him for a six-month sentence of Administrative Detention (renewable).

The military judge, Michael Ben-David, refused, for the second time, to enact the Administrative Detention order without real evidence that such a severe sentence is necessary.

However, this means that Hussam Khader is still in prison, one way or another.

Continue reading Hussam Khader brought to Ofer Prison hearing, returned to Megiddo Prison

Hussam Khader faces Israeli military court in Ofer on Sunday, possible decision on 6-month Administrative Detention order

Hussam Khader, a Fatah activist who was arrested in a 2am Israeli military raid on his home in Balata Refugee Camp on the outskirts of Nablus, in early June, faces an Israeli military court Sunday morning in Ofer Prison, located on Road 443 outside Jerusalem.

An Israeli military judge is expected to decide whether or not to confirm a 6-month Administrative Detention order handed down about ten days ago. The judge reportedly asked Israeli military prosecutors for a reason for 6-month sentence.

Administrative Detention orders are renewable almost endlessly.

Israeli-Arab lawyer Jawad Bulous has been hired to lead a team defending Khader. “As in all Administrative Detention cases, the situation is so bad”, Bulous said in a telephone interview. “We don’t know exactly what charges Hussam is suspected on. Nothing will be clear, even afterwards”.

Bulous said that “from my experience, I see this as a purely political arrest. At the same time, two other men — from Hamas — were also detained in Nablus, and this is a new wave of political arrests for political reasons”.

Hussam Khader’s family said that they thought it might be linked to his support for reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah. Or, it might have been linked to the June5 demonstrations that were held a few days after the arrests. All three of the men arrested that day, including Hussam, are well-known and active political activists.

But, Hussam’s family also insisted that Hussam was doing nothing wrong, and that all his contacts and activities were public.

Bulous said that the proceedings will be “not exactly open — they are held in a sealed inside hall”.

But, he said, “I will present my arguments in open. They will probably mention that Hussam is suspected of endangering public order and public security. Then they will submit a secret file to the judge, who will then make a decision”.

Hussam and his defense team will not know what evidence the secret file contains, Bulous added.

Our earlier account of his arrest is posted here.

Continue reading Hussam Khader faces Israeli military court in Ofer on Sunday, possible decision on 6-month Administrative Detention order

Why was Hussam Khader sentenced by an Israeli military court in the West Bank to six months' administrative detention???

Hussam Khader in left front in handcuffs  - photo by Maan

Hussam Khader, in left front in handcuffs, carrying his belongings in a bag – photo by Maan News

The story — but not the reason, or the explanation — is published by Maan News Agency, which reported that  “Israel’s Salem military court sentenced Fatah leader Hussam Khader to 6 months of administrative detention in a decision signed Thursday. The brother of the elected official, Ghassan Khader, said the judge who signed the order declined to give a reason for the decision … Administrative detention is allowed under Israeli military rule in the West Bank and Gaza, permitting the detention of Palestinians without charge for a period of up to six months, a term which is indefinitely renewable. It is based on the Law of Emergency Powers, adopted by the Israeli Knesset in 1979“. This is posted here.

UPDATE: Hussam Khader’s family have said that they still have hope. They say that they have been told that the judge in the military court has asked the same question we’ve asked — and has given the military prosecutor 72 hours to explain the reason, to explain why the Army, or the Ministry of Defense, or the security services, want Hussam Khader to be detained and locked away. The judge has asked for an answer on Monday. After he gets the answer, the judge will either confirm the sentence, cut it, or eliminate it entirely and release Hussam Khader. In the meantime, Hussam Khader is in Megiddo Prison in Israel, just on the edge of the northern West Bank.

UPDATE TWO: Maan has updated their story to say that so far, or in effect, Hussam Khader’s detention has only been extended for 72 hours. But, this makes their report unclear, as it doesn’t really explain the fuller picture …

There have been a series of IDF detentions of Hamas-affiliated politicians and elected members of the Palestine Legislative Council in the northern West Bank in recent weeks. Hussam Khader is the only Fatah politician to be arrested. He was an elected member of the PLC when he was last arrested in 2003, and he was still in jail and could not run in the following elections in 2006, so he was not a member of the most-recently-elected Palestinian parliament. He was last released from jail in September 2008, and has now been detained for the 25th time in his life.

Our post on the circumstances [as recounted by his family] of the IDF raid in which Hussam Khader was detained a week ago Thursday is published here.

What is the occupation like? Aftermath of a 2 a.m. raid in Nablus + arrest of Hussam Khader

Amira, the 17-year-old daughter of Hussam Khader, said she had been studying for her final exams until midnight, then went to sleep, and was in a deep stage of sleep when she was awakened just two hours later to find a man in her bedroom, next to her bed, with a black mask over his face. He told her, in Arabic, to be quiet and not make any noise — he held his finger up to his mouth in a sign to hush. She realized it was an Israeli soldier in an olive green uniform and a big black weapon.

Then, she realized there were many men in her bedroom… She said she could not get up out of bed, at first, as she felt such fright her legs would not move, and she could not stand up.

She was brought downstairs, where her grandmother and her younger brother were sitting where they were told to stay, in the salon. Her father was being questioned by soldiers in the kitchen. She begged the soldiers not to take her father away again — his most recent imprisonment was from 2003 until 2008. For her, it was terrible to see her father being taken away,again…

She remembered all the jails she had visited him in, during his last imprisonment, and the humiliating and brutal treatment even the visitors received.

It was her laptop which was taken away — along with two desktop computers, and a number of flash drives.

She had her economics exam a few hours later. She said she did not think she did very well.


Ma’an News Agency reported Thursday morning that “Fatah lawmaker Hussam Khader, a long-time proponent of reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah, was taken from his home at 2am, officials said. Witnesses said 50 Israeli military jeeps had arrived in the Balata refugee camp, surrounded the home and searched its contents before taking Khader to an unknown location. [UPDATE: Hussam Khader was still in detention in the Huwwara holding center on Thursday evening] An Israeli military spokesman said he could confirm three detentions in Nablus overnight, but said he was not aware that any were PLC members. All three were taken for security questioning, he said. Palestinian security sources told Ma’an that An-Najah University professor Ghassan Thoqan was taken from his house in Nablus, as was Yasser Badersawi, the director of the Right of Return and Refugee Affairs Center. The spokesman confirmed, however, that Hamas lawmaker Abdul Rahmad Zeidan, also elected to the legislature in 2006, was detained from his home in Tulkarem. The spokesman said he could not yet comment on why the man was taken. Tayseer Nasrallah, member of the Palestinian National Council, said the detentions were an attempt by Israel to disrupt the Palestinian reconciliation process, pointing in particular at Khader’s detention and his historic support for unity”. This Maan News Agency report was published here.


Hussam Khader has been jailed 25 times since he was 16.

Once, he was deported to Lebanon.  Of all the bad things that happened to him, that was the worst, he once said.

When Hussam was taken away before dawn on Thursday morning, he was concerned about his family. He told them they had been through it before, and they must now be strong again.  In September 2008, when he was released a year early from his last imprisonment, he promised his family that he would make up for the time he had lost with them by being in jail

Continue reading What is the occupation like? Aftermath of a 2 a.m. raid in Nablus + arrest of Hussam Khader