The price of a Palestinian prisoner and Hana Al-Shalabi – continuing the fight

Rana Hamadeh | Feb 26, 2012

Khader Adnan ended his 66-day hunger strike last Tuesday, wherein he protested against his administrative detention – that is, arrest without charge or evidence for an indefinite period of time. The final deal reached essentially just shortened his detention order by a few weeks, stating that Israel would not renew the detention – unless, new ‘secret evidence’ surfaces. Thus, although Adnan was highly successful in drawing international attention to the case of administrative detainees in particular, and the Israeli occupation in general, it would be wrong to believe that with the end of his hunger strike came the end of the conditions he was protesting. As of February 1st there were 309 Palestinians under administrative detention, but even in the past few weeks this number has increased.

One notable case is that of Hana Yahya al-Shalabi, a woman who was released in the prisoner exchange last October, but was arrested on 17 February 2012 with a six month administrative detention order. Upon her arrest she began a hunger strike, and continues now on her 10th day. For other notable cases under administrative detention see here.

In the recent prisoner swap the sole Israeli prisoner detained by Palestinians, Gilad Shalit, was released in exchange for over one thousand Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. While most Palestinians were delighted to be reunited with family or friends, they were also reminded of an ugly reality of Israeli apartheid. One Jewish Israeli life is worth over a thousand Palestinians. And so it has been and continues to be.

For the five years that Shalit was imprisoned, his face and name were repeatedly splattered across global media. Yet how many of the thousands of Palestinian political prisoners can we recall?

There were two phases to the prisoner release, the first which occured in October, led to the release of 477 Palestinian political prisoners. In the two months until the second group of prisoners were released, 470 more Palestinians were imprisoned, essentially making up for those released. Those arrested between October 18 and December 12 included 70 children and 11 women.

Regardless of the thousands of Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli prisons, and their cruel treatment at that, it was the Israeli captive that made international news continually for five years. Despite that 700,000 Palestinians have been detained since 1967 (that is approximately 20% of all Palestinians in the occupied territory, and 40% of the male population), it is Shalit who was invited to Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidential palace in Paris where Sarkozy praised Israel for its effort with Shalit, claiming it as a sign of Israel’s democracy “because in a democracy we attach importance to one life.” In the case of Israel, a self proclaimed Jewish nation, that importance appears to be attached exclusively to Jewish lives.

The arrest of an adult military soldier while serving in the Israeli Occupational Forces – an army repeatedly accused of committing war crimes against Palestinians – was worthy of global news and sympathy while the 7,000 Palestinian children arrested since just 2000 went ignored.

The crimes of Israel’s occupation go largely ignored by the international community.

For example, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Conventions, all but one of the prisons holding Palestinians are inside Israel (international law states that an occupying power must detain residents of the occupied territory in prisons within their territory). The result of this violation is that the family and/or lawyers of the prisoners are often denied permits to enter Israel and thus cannot visit the prisons. This goes largely unmentioned by the international community. Instead, we read about the inhumanity of Hamas not allowing visits to Shalit.

Many aspects of Palestinian life have been criminalized under broad military orders. Examples given by Addameer are, for instance, that the political parties comprising the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) are considered “illegal organizations” despite that they have been in peace negotiations with Israel since 1993. The raising of a Palestinian flag is a crime. Participating in a demonstration is a disruption of public order. Even “pouring coffee for a member of a declared illegal association can be seen as support for a terrorist organization.” Thus, imprisonment has also become a common aspect of Palestinian life.

To the families, friends, and supporters of the thousands of Palestinian prisoners, the repeated talk of prisoners as numbers can be sickening. Each and every prisoner has a life and story as worthy as Shalit’s was to the world and despite the unequal representation in the media, we can vow to empower as many voices as possible by our own means.

Urgent Action Alert for Hana Al-Shalabi

As Hana al-Shalabi is attempting to remind us that even the prisoners released in the exchange are not safe from harassment. Many have received threatening raids from the IOF in the middle of the night, with a reminder that they should not feel free just because they have been released. Others have had prices put on their head by illegal Israeli settlers, offering money in exchange for their murders.

Al-Shalabi was an administrative detainee held for two years without a charge before she was released last October. Last Friday the 17th, she was re-arrested without a charge or trial and since then she has refused food. She has been given a 6-month detention order which can be renewed indefinitely.

On day 10 of her hunger strike, she needs international support to amplify her voice. Act now for Hana al-Shalabi – sign the letter and/or send a fax!

Also, tweet:

Demand Israeli occupation release Hana al-Shalabi immediately! #FreeHana #Palestine http://samidoun.ca/?p=327

Three years, no charge? no trial? Free Hana al-Shalabi now! #FreeHana Take action: http://samidoun.ca/?p=327


Um Khamel

Created by my mother, Rehab Nazzal. This is a short but moving interview with Um Khamel, a woman who was expelled from her home in Jerusalem where ethnic cleansing is a common practice

90% Palestinian Detainees Denied Lawyer

Tue Dec 28, 2010 9:35AM GMT

A report on the conditions of Palestinians held in Israeli jails indicates that most of the prisoners are exposed to torture while they are denied access to lawyers.

A study by Public Committee Against Torture and Palestinian Prisoners’ Society says as many as 90 percent of Palestinian prisoners interrogated by Israel’s notorious intelligence agency, Shin Bet, are prevented from consulting with a lawyer, the Israeli Ha’aretz daily paper reported on its website.

The NGO further noticed that the prohibition is not in accordance with Israeli civilian and military legislation, despite the Shin Bet’s claims that it has legal clearance to keep certain detainees from lawyers.

Dr. Maya Rosenfeld, who authored the document, also pointed out that during prolonged periods when prisoners are deprived of meeting with lawyers, the Shin Bet uses interrogation methods that are in contrast to both international and Israeli laws.

Sleep deprivation, threats of harming family members and humiliation are among the methods commonly employed by Israeli interrogators. Other techniques include tying prisoners for long hours to a chair with their hands behind the back and keeping them for long periods in unsanitary cells.

The Shin Bet has refused to provide data on the numbers of Palestinian detainees prevented from meeting with a lawyer, while a petition filed by the human rights group Yesh Din and the Movement for Freedom of Information in March 2009 is still pending.

The blackout prompted the Public Campaign and the Prisoners Society to conduct a research and cross-reference its information with different sources to reach an almost reliable estimate of the numbers of prisoners denied access to lawyers.

The study revealed that out of 11,970 Palestinians interrogated by the Shin Bet between 2000 and 2007, between 8,379 to 10,773 were not allowed to consult with an attorney.

The report, titled “When the Exception Becomes the Rule,” said preventing a meeting with a lawyer for long periods enables illegal interrogation aimed at physical and psychological exhaustion of prisoners, and forcing them into false confessions.

The report indicates that the scope of the phenomenon has not reduced in recent years and describes the legal efforts the Public Committee has undertaken in recent years against the phenomenon as “fruitless.”

Earlier, an Israeli rights group said the Shin Bet holds prisoners under “harrowing conditions” in solitary cells.

MRS/HRF

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