Julie Webb-Pullman reports

Prisoners

Gaza civilians demand action from the ICC

Palestinian victims today urged the Prosecutor of the ICC to move her preliminary examination of Palestine into a full investigation, with a complaint drafted by 40 lawyers from the Gaza Bar representing some 50 Palestinian trade unions, associations and civil society organizations plus 448 individual victims. The action was filed with the ICC by Maître Gilles Devers.

Palestinians file lawsuit against Israel at ICC

The procedure concerns three crimes:
– the blockade of Gaza
– the Israeli aggression in the summer of 2014
– the Israeli settlement of Palestine.

At a press conference in The Hague prior to submitting the complaint to the ICC, Mr Devers said that it was time for prosecutor to move the case forward.

“It is two years since Palestine has been under preliminary examination,” he said. “In Gaza, we think two years is too long.”

At a simultaneous press conference in Gaza attended by the lawyers and complainants, Basman AlAshi, Chief Executive of Wafa Rehabilitation Hospital said there is a wealth of evidence available to the Prosecutor.

“All the prosecutor of the ICC needs to open a full investigation is that there is a reasonable basis for believing that crimes within the jurisdiction of the court have been committed. The destruction of Wafa Rehabilitation Hospital, a protected place under the Geneva Convention, provides that basis. So do the attacks on Al Aqsa, Durrah and Beit Hanoun Hospitals.”

Dr Mariam Abu Daqqa described the treatment of women prisoners in Israeli detention, from being arbitrarily detained to torture, being deprived of contact with their children, and appalling living conditions. She also noted the huge number of child prisoners, and the failure of Israeli authorities to accord them even the most minimum standards of treatment demanded by international conventions.

Lawyer Mahmoud Afana emphasised the illegality of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, which breaches several aspects of international law, such as the right to self-determination, as well as many of the rights contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Afana described the ten-year siege of Gaza as collective punishment which constitutes “… a genocidal humanitarian crisis happening in full view of the world.”

Rana Shubeir, speaking on behalf of civil society and young people, said that they are sick of living a life of fear:
fear of being denied travel for study or medical treatment, fear of another aggression, fear of never finding a job in “this black hole of deprivation and suffering.”

“We only want to enjoy the basic human rights which are guaranteed under international and humanitarian law. We want to live knowing that the future of our children will be as bright as their innocent smiles. The only way this can be achieved is through the application of justice – and that is all we ask from the ICC – apply the rules, and open a full investigation into Palestine,” she said.

Gilles Devers emphasised that this action is just the beginning of a long struggle, noting they are well-organized and determined.

He said the group was also hoping to persuade the ICC to open a full investigation “as a matter of urgency” into the situation in East Jerusalem, where Israeli authorities are imposing severe restrictions on and around Al Aqsa Mosque, and violently attacking Palestinians protesting their repressive actions against the third most holy site in islam.

“Justice is the response to violence. We call for the strengthening of this legal action. This action must be intensified. Our strength is the determination of the Palestinian people to defend their rights.”


27th Anniversary: Hamas is from the Palestinian people, and for Palestine

by Julie Webb-Pullman

Hamas in Nuseirat Photo: Julie Webb-Pullman

Hamas in Nuseirat Photo: Julie Webb-Pullman

“Hamas leaders come from the people,” senior official Dr Salah Al Bardawil told a huge crowd who took to the streets Friday in Nuseirat camp, Gaza, to celebrate 27 years since the birth of the Hamas movement.

“Hamas does not seek power or government, just Palestine’s liberation,” he said. (more…)


New Zealand joins “Friday of Anger” for Palestinian prisoners

Members of NZ's Mulsim community rally in Wellington for Palestinian prisoners

Members of NZ’s Mulsim community rally in Wellington for Palestinian prisoners

On the other side of the world from Palestine, in New Zealand’s capital city of Wellington, several members of the local Muslim community braved the freezing cold on Friday night to hold a vigil in Civic Square calling for the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. (more…)


100 Palestinian prisoners on mass hunger strike

hungryuntilfreedom

ALRAY

Occupied Palestine – More than 100 Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons are still on hunger strike for the fifth day in a row, protesting their indefinite administrative detention by Israeli occupation.

Director of Ahrar Centre for Prisoners and Human Rights Studies, Fuad al-Khafash, said Monday that the Israeli occupation has continued assaulting the hunger strikers and tried to stop their strike. (more…)


Letter from an Israeli dungeon

#‎FreeShireenIssawi‬

Shireen Issawi

On Wednesday 23rd April 2014 Inminds received a short letter from Shireen Issawi, written in her cell in Israel’s infamous HaSharon prison. Its content was revealed by her lawyer.

Shireen Issawi was abducted by the Israeli occupation on 6th March 2014. As a human right lawyer she has been a strong advocate for prisoners rights, a thorn against the occupation. They interrogating her for 22 days at Israel’s notorious G4S secured torture den – the Russian Compound in Jerusalem. Everyday she had to endure 16 hours of interrogation, forced in to stress positions which have left severe pain in her back. Between interrogation sessions she was caged in solitary confinement with no access to a lawyer or contact with other prisoners.

When she didn’t confess to their trumped up charges they finally transferred her to the filthy rat infested dungeon at HaSharon, also secured by G4S.

Shireen Issawi’s letter was read aloud outside the headquarters of G4S in London on 25th April 2014:

I am a lawyer, I have the right and duty to defend our prisoners. To stand for their rights is not unlawful. Although I have been busy recently focusing on completing my Masters thesis, they arrested me. The real reason for my arrest is that the occupation wants to intimidate lawyers from performing their duty in the service of our prisoners. They will not succeed, I dedicate my life for the cause of our prisoners and will not stop fighting for their freedom until all our prisoners are released. ~ Shireen Issawi


Palestinian Administrative Detainees To Hold Hunger Strike

Al Qassam Information Office

Occupied Palestine – The Ahrar Center for Detainees Studies and Human Rights has reported that Palestinian political prisoners, held by Israeli occupation under arbitrary Administrative Detention without charges or trial, have decided to go ahead and start their hunger strike on Thursday, April 24, 2014.

Ahrar said the detainees would be holding the “Freedom Revolution Strike 2014” to protest their illegal detention, and that all administrative detainees, of all factions, will be part of the strike.

The detainees issued a statement revealing that contacts have been made to ensure all administrative detainees will start their strike Thursday.

The planned strike was coordinated between various detained political leaders, including detainee Abbas As-Sayyed of Hamas, and Fateh official and legislator, Marwan Barghouthi.

The committee organizing the strike said the move could eventually turn into a comprehensive strike that includes all detainees held by Israeli occupation.

The detainees called on local media outlets to support them, and to inform the world of their suffering and ongoing violations carried out against them.

One of the main demands, which was on the list of every previous strike, is an end to the illegitimate and arbitrary Israeli police of Administrative Detention, and to allow the Red Cross and their lawyers to visit them during their strikes.

The detainees said Administrative Detention is illegal, and Israeli must stop completely stop it.

Also among the demands of the detainees, including Administrative Detainees, is a stop to all violations and attacks against them, attacks against the visiting family members, granting the detainees access to education and proper medical attention, and various demands guaranteed by International Law and the Fourth Geneva Convention.


Palestinian Prisoners’ Day: May the eyes of the coward never rest

Tawfiq Abu Naim at Soraya

Tawfiq Abu Naim at Soraya

Thousands of people today converged on Soraya, site of the Gaza Central prison destroyed during the November 2012 Israeli offensive, and now the site to celebrate the indomitable spirit of Palestinians held in Israeli jails.

April 17th was designated Palestinian Political Prisoners’ Day by the Palestinian National Council in 1974. It also marks the assassinations of two Palestinian political leaders – Fateh leader Khalil Al Wazir on 16 April 1988 and Dr Abdul-Aziz Al Rantisi of Hamas on 17 April 2004.

Members of all factions and none gathered to hear speeches, view exhibits of handcrafts and photos produced by prisoners in Israeli jails, and later to march on the International Committee for the Red Cross. (more…)


Renewed Administrative Detention of MP El Natsha denounced

PLC member Muhammad Jamal El Natsha

PLC member Muhammad Jamal El Natsha

PRESS RELEASE

The International Campaign for Releasing the Abducted MPs denounces the third renewal of the administrative detention of Palestinian Legislative Council member Muhammad Jamal El Natsha.

El Natsha, a 55 year old from Hebron city, had already spent over 17 years in Israeli prisons before his re-abduction on 27 March 2013, and suffers from ill-health, including chronic chest and kidney problems.

The Campaign considers that the policy of renewing administrative detention against MPs breaches both humanitarian and legal norms.

The Campaign points out that nine MPs belonging to the Change and Reform parliamentary bloc are currently subjected to this policy. Three of them, Jaber El Foqahaa, Muhammad El Ramahi, and Yaser Mansour have also had their administrative detention renewed.

Renewal of the administrative detention of MPs is a flagrant violation of the basic rules of democracy and international law.

The International Campaign holds the Israeli authorities accountable for the life of El Natsha, given his deteriorating health, and calls for urgent steps to be taken by all international legal, parliamentary and political institutions to immediately end this policy, and ensure his immediate release.


The International Campaign For Freeing PLC Members
Email:- FreePLC2009@gmail.com


The International Campaign condemns blocking of European Fact-Finding Visit to Israeli prisons

Protesting MPs' continued detention

Protesting MPs’ continued detention

PRESS RELEASE

The International Campaign for Releasing Abducted MPs strongly denounces the Israeli authorities for preventing a fact-finding committee comprised of members of the European Parliament from visiting Israeli prisons to investiagte the situation of abducted members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) and other Palestinian prisoners.

The visit followed a request from the International Campaign to the European Parliament to investigate and report on the conditions faced by MPs inside Israeli jails.

The European Parliament decided to send a fact-finding committee, which arrived in Israel on 19 March 2014. However they received no co-operation whatsoever from the Israeli occupation authorities.

The Campaign considers this to be unethical behavior towards parliamentarians protected by parliamentary immunity, and points out that it is yet another example of the ongoing violations suffered by the Palestinian lawmakers, from persecution to abduction and deportation.

11 Palestinians MPs are still behind Israeli bars, being subjected to oppressive and illegal practices.

The Campaign calls for parliamentary and human rights organizations internationally to break the silence on the abduction and detention of Palestinian MPs, and to hold Israel accountable for the crimes it is committing against them, and other Palestinian prisoners.

The International Campaign For Freeing PLC members
Email: FreePLC2009@gmail.com


“Grave violations and aggression by Israel against the Palestinian people continued in a culture of impunity,” says Human Rights Council

Peace

On 24 March The Human Rights Council held a general debate on the human rights situation in Palestine and other Occupied Arab Territories, in a meeting at which four reports on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories were presented.

The Secretary-General’s report again confirmed continued flagrant violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said that the reports highlighted the issue of settlements, which, together with settler violence, were at the core of many of the human rights violations in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

Despite repeated calls on Israel to cease settlement activity, their construction continued with devastating consequences for Palestinian civilians. Ms. Pillay also expressed deep concern at the situation in Gaza.

(more…)


Euro-Mid: Israeli army increases detentions of Palestinian children by 80%

PRESS RELEASE
Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights

Geneva-

A report issued on March 17th by the Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights points out that the Israeli forces have detained 740 Palestinian children during the first two months of 2014, 465 of them remained in custody for at least one week.

The Euro-Mid Observer, an independent human rights organization based in Geneva, states that approximately 200 Palestinian minors were detained monthly on average by the Israeli forces during 2013, and 197 on average during 2012, according to data published by Defense for Children International (DCI) and Israel Prison Service.

Child Prisoner

The first month of 2014 witnessed the detention of 350 Palestinian children; some of them were released within hours of their capture, while 220 others were held for one week or more. However, in February 2014, 390 children were arrested, of whom 245 were kept under custody up to one week or more. This indicates an increase in the number of detained Palestinian children by 80% during the first two months of 2014 in comparison with monthly average of detentions during 2013.

Euro-Mid’s report notes that after following up the cases of the detained Palestinian children, it was apparent that most charges held against them were linked to throwing stones at Israeli patrols roaming around in Palestinian cities, or taking part in a peaceful demonstration condemning Israel’s separation wall, or for shouting slogans, writings statements or paintings glorifying Palestine and rejecting the occupation. Such acts, the report confirms, are not deemed as crimes in international law and do not require the detention of a child as punishment.

According to the Israeli Military Order 1651, Palestinian child prisoners may be sentenced in military courts from the age of twelve, which violates both international and Israeli juvenile law.

The Israeli Military Order 1651 establishes a minimum age of criminal responsibility at 12 years, and sets out the maximum penalties that can be imposed on children in various age categories for a number of listed offences. The most common offence that children are charged with in the military courts is for stone throwing.

Euro-Mid draws the attention to the fact that most cases of detention against Palestinian child prisoners are carried out after midnight, and are accompanied by repressive police actions frightening children and their families without acute or security necessity. Moreover, the children’s parents are not allowed to accompany their children and are not told where they are taken to. Most children, meanwhile, are denied from their right to immediate legal assistance as Israeli authorities often starts investigations right after the detention of the child without the presence of a lawyer. No child should be interrogated in the absence of a lawyer of choice and family member. Additionally, the majority of those children are faced by solitary confinement, a practice with severe negative psychological impacts on the children.

A number of children told Euro-Mid following their release that during their interrogation by the Israeli forces, they were subjected to psychological pressure, scolding, deprivation of sleep, denial of access to toilets, and beating; different forms of torture and “harm, abuse, and violence” prohibited under the provisions of article (19/1) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The report stressed that such escalation in detentions against Palestinian children without any legal basis is at odds with article 37 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states that : (a) No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; (b) No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily. The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time”.

“The report, more importantly, made clear that the detention of Palestinian children mounts to “a stark violation of their right to their freedom of expression.”

Mira Bushara, a researcher at Euro-Mid’s legal department, said “Israel is totally indifferent to the Convention on the Rights of the Child when it comes to Palestinian children” pointing at the incident of Wadea Muswada, a 5 years old Palestinian child from Hebron detained in June 2013 on the charge of “throwing stones”.

Bushara said incidents documented in the film “Children in Chains” by British director Jonathan Pullman, “shows us that what Israel is practicing against the rights of Palestinian children represents a methodology that applies to all Palestinian cities and are not mere individual incidents that happen here and there, especially when nearly 190 Palestinian children under the age of 8 are held in Israeli prisons until this moment”.


PALESTINIAN PRISONERS DAY: AL-ISSAWI NEXT TO DIE?

PRESS RELEASE
MAD – Media Activists for Detainees

Will Samer Al-Issawi die in an Israeli jail, just like Maysara AbuHamdiya? Or will the international community move today, the International Day for Palestinian Prisoners, to save his life?

GAZA CITY — These are the questions today preying on the minds of 32 sick Palestinians in Israeli jails. Along with, “Which of us will be next?”

Maysara AbuHamdiya, a prisoner for over ten years, died this month following lack of timely medical treatment for throat cancer. Samer Al-Issawi faces imminent heart failure after more than 270 days hunger striking in protest against Israel’s policy of administration detention, and inhumane conditions in Israeli jails.

“My health has deteriorated greatly but I will continue my hunger strike until victory or martyrdom. This is my last remaining stone to throw…” Al-Issawi said in his last letter from prison.

Palestinian Ministry of Detainees and Ex-Detainees reports that as at 31 March 2013 there were 1,200 sick Palestinians prisoners inside Israeli jails, 14 of whom have cancer and 18 of whom are confined in the Ramle Prison Clinic.

Israel shows no signs of introducing minimum standards of medical care anytime soon. In a report titled The Palestinian Prisoners Hunger Strikes of 2012 Physicians For Human Rights-Israel made recommendations regarding the urgent need to transfer prison medical services from the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) to the Ministry of Health, due to the dilemmas of dual loyalty of IPS medical staff and the primacy given to political and security considerations at the expense of prisoners’ health and well-being. It is not to be.

In response to their recommendations, “…the Ministry maintained that supervision and control over the medical services of prisoners would remain under the auspices of the IPS, thereby thwarting our request…” Physicians For Human Rights-Israel stated on their website this week.

Thus despite the best efforts of even local Israeli human rights groups, the dire situation for ailing Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails remains unchanged.

Will Al-Issawi be the 204th Palestinian to die in Israeli custody since 1967? Or will the International Day for Palestinians Prisoners spur the international community into snatching him from the jaws of death?

Issued by: MAD – Media Activists for Detainees, Gaza
Contact:madinfo@hushmail.com

###

About MAD

Who is MAD? We are! We are Media Activists for Detainees, a collective of young Gazans who are MAD about the use of administrative detention by Israeli authorities to imprison Palestinians without charge. We are MAD about the torture to which our brothers and sisters are subjected during interrogation. We are MAD about the conditions under which they are held in Israeli jails, from lack of timely and adequate medical treatment, to years of solitary confinement, rotten food, strip searches of both detainees and visiting family members, violent midnight cell-raids, random beatings, and the with-holding of family visits.

We are MAD, and we are dangerous – but only to those who with-hold basic human rights from detainees in Israeli jails – and only by exposing their abuses to the world.


Palestinian Detainees issue must not be buried with Hamdiyeh

by Julie Webb-Pullman

As Palestinian detainee Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh was being buried in Hebron, the Palestinian Minister of Religious Affairs Ismail Al Radwan was denouncing his murder at the mourning tent set up in his honour in Gaza City by the Ministry for Detainees’ and Ex-Detainees’ Affairs.

Minister of Religious Affairs Ismail Radwan and Minister of Detainees' Affairs Dr Attallah Abu ElSebah at Soraya today

Minister of Religious Affairs Ismail Al Radwan and Minister of Detainees’ Affairs Dr Attallah Abu ElSebah at Soraya today

Radwan demanded that the international community form a committee to supervise Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails, to ensure they are given their basic rights.

Several hundred people gathered to add their support to the Minister’s call, amongst them Sabrin Al Baz.
“I have come here today with about 100 others from the Adawa Islamic College to show our support for Maysara Hamdiyeh,” she told me.

“All Muslims must support this issue, it is not just an issue for Palestinians, but for human rights everywhere. They belong to everyone. What do you do when someone takes something that is yours away from you?” she asked.

“You must fight to get it back. We must protect and defend our claim, as Palestinians and as Muslims. But people everywhere must also help to protect them,” she said, reiterating Minister Radwan’s call for international action.

Sabrin El Baz, Adawa Islamic College

Sabrin El Baz, Adawa Islamic College

The third death of a Palestinian detainee in almost as many months demands international attention, and very close scrutiny of the conditions under which they are being held in Israeli prisons.

That even the International Committee of the Red Cross and local Israeli human rights groups cannot gain access to these prisons to monitor conditions, signals that there are likely gross abuses being hidden from public view. These deaths are compelling proof.

The international community has a moral obligation to expose these atrocities to the cold light of objective assessment, and ensure that the ongoing issue of the torture, abuse and medical negligence of this most vulnerable population is not buried along with Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh.

"The Ministry of Religious Affairs demands the leaders of the Ummah protect the lives of the patient detainees inside Israeli jails"

“The Ministry of Religious Affairs demands the leaders of the Ummah protect the lives of the patient detainees inside Israeli jails”


Palestinian Detainee Death: We are all Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh

By Julie Webb-Pullman

Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh died today shackled to his hospital bed, the latest victim of Israel’s cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment of Palestinian detainees.

Suffering from cancer since at least August 2012, he was not told of his diagnosis – or given any treatment other than painkillers and flu injections – until March 2013, when he was finally commenced on chemotherapy. This treatment might have had some chance of helping him if it had been administered early enough – but it did not begin until the cancer had already metastasised to his spine…then it was suspended ‘for the Jewish holidays,’ according to his lawyer Rami al-Alami.

Such blatant breaches of both medical ethics and human rights norms are both scandalous, and scandalously common.

The litany of medical neglect by Israeli Prison Services (IPS), which many ex-prisoners describe as a deliberate punitive policy by medical personnel in league with the Israeli prison authorities, is demonstrable in the 200+ prisoners who have died whilst in Israeli custody – 51 of them from medical negligence – and those who have died soon after release.

The latter include Hayel Abu-Zaid, Sitan Al-Wali, Murad Abu-Sakoot, Fayez Ziyadat, Zakariya Eissa Daud, Zuhair Labadah, and Ashraf Abu-Thurai’a who died in January 2013.

Palestinian Minister of Detainees’ and Ex-Detainees’ Affairs Dr Attallah Abu Elsebah has released numerous press statements over recent years advising of the medical negligence being suffered by more than 1000 of the 4500+ Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails. They currently include some 18 prisoners permanently resident in the Israeli Prison Service’s Medical Center (IMC) in Ramleh Prison suffering from life-threatening or malignant diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and kidney failure, and 85 disabled prisoners with mobility, mental, and sensory disabilities.

Israel’s own human rights and medical experts decry the practices of their prison authorities. Physicians for Human Rights–Israel reports that the Ramleh IMC operates with virtually no supervision, medical or otherwise, and is characterized by inadequate medical care, non-medical staff intervening in treatment, problems in transferring patients to outside institutions, neglect in cases of disability and rehabilitation, threats against patients that have filed complaints, and inadequate sanitation and living conditions. [1]

“The IPS, the main entity responsible for the custody of incarcerated persons, goes to great lengths to prevent outside inspections. The IPS does not allow open tours of its facilities, and only permits pre-coordinated visits with attorneys or doctors with individual prisoners, during which the attorney or doctors may not visit a prisoner’s cell in order to assess the conditions of incarceration,” they report on their website.

A Council for European Palestinian Relations description of the conditions for Palestinian detainees stated that health examinations are conducted through a fence, and any necessary surgery or transfer to hospital for additional medical treatment is usually postponed for long periods of time. [2]

“Demands made by Israeli organisations to provide health care to detainees have consistently been refused, in addition to petitions made by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC),” they add.

Right to health care in prisons

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) has been deemed by the Human Rights Committee to protect the rights of prisoners to health care through Article 6 guaranteeing the right to life, the Article 7 prohibition that ‘no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’, and Article 10 guaranteeing the right to humane treatment of prisoners. These articles have led the Committee to hold that ‘adequate’ or ‘appropriate and timely medical care must be available to all detainees.’ [3]

The Committee has also held that ‘free access to doctors’ should be guaranteed in practice, immediately after arrest and during all stages of detention. [4]

In fact the Human Rights Committee found a violation of Article 6, the right to life, in a very similar case to that of Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh. In Lanstova versus Russia, a man died in prison because of the failure of the prison authorities to take appropriate medical measures when his health dangerously deteriorated. [5]

How does Israel get away with it?

Whilst Israel has ratified the main human rights conventions, including the ICCPR, it is not a party to any of the Optional Protocols other than Children in Armed Conflicts, nor has it accepted the jurisdiction of any of the treaty body committees.

Specifically, Israel has not signed the First Optional Protocol of the ICCPR, thus complaints against Israel cannot be received by, or acted on, by the Committee.

Rogue State
How ironic that Israel is able to continue to be a member state of the United Nations, claiming all of the benefits of protection for itself under international law, while accepting none of the accompanying obligations and responsibilities towards others, particularly Palestinian detainees – and while Palestine itself cannot even achieve full recognition as a state.

One might wonder why a state that has breached over 80 UN resolutions, including the United Nations Charter itself at least 22 times, is left to continue ‘business as usual’ against Palestinian detainees –three of whom have already died this year – and is never held to account. Is the UN showing unmistakable signs of its advancing age, and heading for total impotence, and irrelevance?

Noam Chomsky has defined a rogue state as “a state that defies international laws and conventions, does not consider itself bound by the major treaties and conventions, World Court decisions — in fact, anything except the interests of its own leadership, the forces around the leadership that dominate policy.” [6]

Regardless of the impotence of the UN system to enforce international law, particularly in the face of the US power of veto that would inevitably be used should any attempt be made to oust Israel from their hallowed halls, the international community of states has no other moral choice but to act, and to act immediately, to rein in the rogue state of Israel, and force it, as they did apartheid South Africa, to act in accordance with the fundamental rights and principles that define world citizenship – mutual respect, and self-determination.

To do any less is to critically undermine not only the human rights system and its basis in universality, indivisibility, and interdependence, but also the very foundations of civilisation.

Because ultimately, we are all Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh.

[1] http://www.phr.org.il/default.asp?PageID=114
[2] http://thecepr.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=116%3Apalestinian-prisoners-in-israel&catid=6%3Amemos&Itemid=34
[3] HRC, Concluding Observations, Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea, ICCPR, A/56/40 vol. 1 (2001) 98 at para. 86(16); HRC, Concluding Observations, Portugal, ICCPR, A/58/40 vol. 1 (2003) 56 at para. 83(11); HRC, Concluding Observations, Kenya, ICCPR, A/60/40 vol. 1 (2005) 44 at para. 86(19)
[4] HRC, Concluding Observations, Ukraine, ICCPR, A/57/40 vol. I (2002) 32 at para. 74(15).
Cf. HRC, Concluding Observations, Benin, ICCPR, A/60/40 vol. I (2004) 30 at para. 83(17).
[5] Lanstova v The Russian Federation Communication No 763/1999, UN Doc CCPR/C/74/D/763/1997 (2002).
[6] http://www.chomsky.info/interviews/200105–.htm


Israel: immune or impugnable?

From Alray Media

Image

READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

Whilst Israel has ratified the main human rights conventions, it is not a party to any of the Optional Protocols other than Children in Armed Conflicts, nor has it accepted the jurisdiction of any of the treaty body committees, which means that relevant committees cannot receive or act on complaints or claims against Israel.

Even where Israel has ratified conventions, it has made important reservations, rendering itself virtually immune from almost any action against it.

The most we can hope for is that the circumstances of Arafat Jaradat’s death will be exposed to the international community, and will serve as a catalyst, as did the death in South African custody of Steve Biko in alerting the world to the atrocities being committed by the apartheid state of South Africa and ultimately leading to its downfall.

The rogue and apartheid state of Israel is equally in need of the disapprobation and condemnation of the international community for its chronic and extreme abuses of Palestinians and Palestinian detainees, for its daily practices of torture, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of Palestinian detainees and their families, and for its blatant disregard of international laws, norms and minimal standards of civilised behaviour.


14 Palestinian and Israeli Organisations Condemn Lack of Accountability for Torture of Palestinian Detainees

PRESS RELEASE
Al Haq

Friday, 01 March 2013 Ref.: 44/2013

The Palestinian Human Rights Organisations Council (PHROC), along with Adalah, Public Committee Against Torture in Israel and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, express their outrage at the death of Arafat Jaradat, 30, which, according to the autopsy report of Dr Saber al-‘Aloul, Director of the Palestinian Medico-legal Institute, was caused by torture and ill-treatment inflicted while in Israeli custody. The preliminary autopsy, to which there are links below, found that Arafat displayed severe bruising on his upper back, deep bruising along the spine, and significant bruising on both sides of the chest. The postmortem also discovered bruising on both arms and inside the mouth, blood around the nose and three fractured ribs. In addition, the examination discounted the claim by the Israeli authorities that Arafat died of a heart attack. His heart was completely healthy and there was no evidence of damage or weakness of any kind. The report concludes that all injuries were the result of very recent, severe and direct torture. The undersigned organisations reiterate the demands made by UN representatives for an immediate international investigation into the death of Arafat Jaradat with a view to holding those responsible for his death accountable.

Arafat Jaradat was arrested on 18 February on suspicion of throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at settlers and was transferred to al-Jalameh prison where he confessed to throwing stones but denied any involvement with firebombs. On 21 February, his lawyer, Mr. Kamil Sabbagh, reported that Arafat was suffering from severe pain in his back and appeared to be psychologically and physically weak after three days under interrogation. According to Mr. Sabbagh, Arafat also expressed strong fear at the prospect of returning to interrogation when his detention order was extended by 12 days. After a request from Mr. Sabbagh, the Israeli military judge ordered that a full physical and psychological examination of Arafat be carried out, the results of which were to be presented to the Israeli Security Agency (ISA) and the court. It is unclear if this medical examination ever took place. If it did, the results of the exam should be disclosed. If it did not, the Israeli authorities must explain why this order was not complied with.

The absolute prohibition against torture is a peremptory norm of international law and “has now become one of the most fundamental standards of the international community”[1]. Since 2001, there have been more than 750 complaints of torture and ill-treatment against the ISA. Not one complaint has resulted in a criminal investigation. Indeed, given that all complaints are reviewed by the Inspector of Interrogee Complaints, who is himself an ISA agent, it is a process that guarantees the absence of credible and impartial investigations. The fact that the Israeli Attorney General has ratified each recommendation not to investigate is further evidence of the institutional impunity which shields the ISA and those who commit torture in Israeli prisons.

Article 12 of UN Convention Against Torture, of which Israel is a State Party, obliges States to perform prompt and impartial investigations in all alleged incidents of torture. Torture is also considered a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention and is further listed as both a crime against humanity and a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. In addition, torture has permissive universal jurisdiction according to customary international law, which allows any State to prosecute those accused of torture, regardless of their nationality.

However, in 1999, the Israeli High Court of Justice ruling in the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel v The State of Israel contributed significantly to the current climate of impunity, shielding those who commit torture. While the Court affirmed that the practice of torture was prohibited, it also held that such prohibition would not apply in cases of “necessity”, leaving room for the use of extreme measures in arbitrarily-defined situations, in blatant contradiction to the jus cogens status of the absolute prohibition of torture. The ruling effectively allowed for the continuing use of torture by affirming that an Israeli official charged with torture would not be criminally liable by virtue of the “necessity defence”, which can legitimise the use of “physical pressure” in certain circumstances.

In 2009, the UN Committee Against Torture reiterated its call on Israel to remove ‘necessity’ as a justification for the crime of torture as well as calling for all interrogations to be recorded on film. These demands have been ignored. In short, while torture is a crime that the international community maintains cannot be allowed to go unpunished, in Israel both the High Court of Justice and the Attorney General contribute to the lack of accountability that pervades the Israeli judicial system. Unless this culture of impunity is challenged, Palestinians in Israeli prisons will continue to be victims of torture and ill-treatment with regularity.

Arafat’s death is symptomatic of the utter disregard with which Israel holds the lives of Palestinian prisoners. Since the beginning of the occupation in 1967, 203 Palestinians have died in Israeli detention centres. At least 71 of these died as a direct result of torture.[2] One hundred and seventy eight Palestinians are being held in administrative detention without charge or trial or any access to the information upon which their detention is based. Presently, ten Palestinians are engaged in hunger strikes in protest against their detention. Tarek Qa’adan and Jafar Azzidine, who spent more than 90 days on hunger strike and are in critical condition, have suspended their strikes for a week ahead of a court hearing on 6 March in the hope that their detention orders will be dismissed. Both men had their administrative detention orders renewed for another three months on Friday 22 February.

In light of the above, the undersigned organisations call for the following steps to be taken:

– An international investigation into all complaints of torture by Israeli forces must be carried out, followed by effective accountability for those responsible and redress for victims;
– All ISA interrogations of Palestinians must be subject to video recording, in line with the recommendations of the Turkel Commission;
– Given that Israel does not offer due process or a fair trial to Palestinian prisoners, all administrative detainees should be promptly released;
– The UN Committee Against Torture and Third States should pressure Israel to adopt adequate criminal legislation to define and penalise torture under domestic Israeli law;
– The European Parliament must promptly activate the parliamentary fact-finding mission that includes members of its Subcommittee on Human Rights to investigate the conditions of detention and interrogation of Palestinians detained by Israel;
– The EU parliamentary fact-finding mission must include an investigation into Israel’s illegal practice of administrative detention and the use of the “Unlawful Combatant Law”;
– All hunger strikers in advanced stages must be moved immediately to civilian hospitals where they can receive the appropriate standard of care without being shackled;
– Immediate intervention from the IPS to provide all hunger strikers with unrestricted access to independent doctors;
– All hunger strikers should be allowed family visits;
– UN Member States should urgently put pressure on Israel to end its policy of arbitrary detention and to abide by the standard rules for the treatment of prisoners adopted in 1955, which set out what is generally accepted as being decent principle and practice in the treatment of prisoners.

Preliminary Autopsy Report

Original Arabic report
Unofficial English translation of report

[1] Prosecutor v Furundžija (Judgment, Trial Chamber) ICTY-95-17/1 (10 December 1998), para. 59.

[2] Data on file with Addameer.

SIGNATORY ORGANISATIONS:
Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minorities in Israel

Addameer Prisoners’ Support and Human Rights Association
Sahar Francis
General Director

Aldameer Association for Human Rights
Khalil Abu Shammala
General Director

PCHRS

Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies
Iyad Barghouti
General Director

Al-Haq
Shawan Jabarin
General Director

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights
Issam Younis
General Director

Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights
Najwa Darwish
General Director

Defence for Children International
Palestine Section
Rifat Kassis
General Director

Ensan Center for Human Rights and Democracy
Shawqi Issa
General Director

Hurryyat – Centre for Defense of Liberties and Civil Rights
Helmi Al-araj
General Director

Jerusalem Center for Legal Aid and Human Rights
Issam Aruri
General Director

Public Committe Against Torture

Physicians for Human Rights – Israel

Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling
Maha Abu Dayyeh
General Director


Palestinian Jordanian activist held incommunicado in Saudi Arabia

PRESS RELEASE
Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network

Jordanian activist Khalid al-Natour has been held incommunicado in Saudi Arabia since January 6, when he arrived on a work visa with colleagues. His friends and family have not been informed of any reason for his detention and he has been unable to contact the outside world. Please call the Saudi embassy in your country – in Washington, DC the number is 202-342-3800 and in Ottawa, the number is 613-237-4100. Please inform the Saudi embassy that people around the world are deeply concerned about Khalid al-Natour.

Amnesty International issued the following statement:
DOCUMENT – SAUDI ARABIA: JORDANIAN HELD INCOMMUNICADO IN SAUDI ARABIA

UA: 52/13 Index: MDE 23/007/2013 Saudi Arabia Date: 26 February 2013

amnestyy URGENT ACTION

A Jordanian man has been held incommunicado in an undisclosed location in Saudi Arabia since 6 January. He was last seen being arrested by Saudi Arabian security forces, and has since been denied access to his family and to the outside would. The conditions of his detention may amount to enforced disappearance if the Saudi Arabian authorities continue to refuse disclosing his fate.

Jordanian web developer Khalid al-Natour, 27 years old, was arrested upon arrival at the King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, on 6 January 2013. He had arrived from Jordan with four of his colleagues on a business trip (all five men work for the same internet holding company). Khalid al-Natour was detained by the Saudi Arabian authorities; his colleagues were told they would risk a similar fate if they did not leave the airport immediately.

Khalid al-Natour is a member of Herak, a Jordanian pro-reform movement that has called for political and economic change in Jordan as well as increased political freedoms. In September 2011, he was arrested near the Saudi Arabian consulate in ‘Amman, Jordan, for insulting a Jordanian security officer during a demonstration protesting against Saudi Arabia’s involvement in Bahrain. He was subsequently released on bail a day later; his case remains pending before a Jordanian court.

On 23 December 2012, he was granted a single-entry visa to Saudi Arabia while his four colleagues were granted multiple-entry visas by the Saudi Arabian embassy in Jordan. Neither the Jordanian authorities nor Khalid al-Natour’s family, who have sought information about his case, have been provided with an official response regarding his detention, including his whereabouts and the reason for his detention.

Please write immediately in Arabic, English or your own language:

Calling on the Saudi Arabian authorities to immediately disclose Khalid al-Natour’s whereabouts;

Urging them to ensure that he is protected from torture or other ill-treatment and given, without delay, regular access to his family, lawyers of his own choosing, consular assistance and any adequate medical treatment he may require;

Urging them to release Khalid al-Natour unless he is promptly charged with an internationally recognizable criminal offence and tried in proceedings that conform fully to international fair trial standards.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 9 APRIL 2013 TO:

Minister of the Interior

His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud

Ministry of the Interior, P.O. Box 2933, Airport Road, Riyadh 11134

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Fax: +966 1 403 3125 (please keep trying)

Salutation: Your Royal Highness

King and Prime Minister

King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud

The Custodian of the two Holy Mosques

Office of His Majesty the King

Royal Court, Riyadh

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Fax: (via Ministry of the Interior)

+966 1 403 3125 (please keep trying)

Salutation: Your Majesty

And copies to:

Minister of Foreign Affairs

His Excellency Nasser Judeh

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

P.O. Box 35217

Amman, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

Fax: +962 6 573 5163

Email: mofa@fm.gov.jo�

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country.

Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.

URGENT ACTION

jordanian held incommunicado in saudi arabia
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Critics of the Saudi Arabian government face gross human rights violations. They are often held incommunicado without charge, sometimes in solitary confinement, and denied access to lawyers or the courts to challenge the lawfulness of their detention. Torture or other ill-treatment is frequently used to extract “confessions” from detainees, to punish them for refusing to “repent”, or to force them to sign pledges promising not to criticize the government. Incommunicado detention in Saudi Arabia often lasts until a “confession” is obtained, which can take months and occasionally years.

Saudi Arabia has systematically violated international human rights standards that irrevocably prohibit prolonged incommunicado detention of detainees. The UN General Assembly has stated that “prolonged incommunicado detention or detention in secret places can facilitate the perpetration of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and can in itself constitute a form of such treatment” (UN General Assembly resolutions 62/148 paragraph 15, and 63/166 paragraph 20, 17 December 2007 and 12 December 2008 respectively). Similarly, the UN Human Rights Committee has stated that provisions should be made against incommunicado detention (General Comment 20, Article 7, forty-fourth session, 1992), and the UN Committee against Torture has consistently called for its elimination. The UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, recognizing that “torture is most frequently practised during incommunicado detention”, has also called for such detention to be made illegal.

Amnesty International has detailed such abuses as well as the crackdown on freedom of expression and protests in the name of security in a report entitled Saudi Arabia: Repression in the name of security (MDE 23/016/2011), issued on 1 December 2011 (http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE23/016/2011/en).

Name: Khalid al-Natour

Gender m/f: m


Video

ADDAMEER: HUNGER STRIKES ESCALATE

PRESS RELEASE
ADDAMEER Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association
26 February 2012

HUNGER STRIKES ESCALATE: 12 Detainees on Hunger Strike, some nearing death as the Israeli Prison Service denies Addameer’s lawyers visitation rights

Occupied Ramallah, 26 February 2013 – Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association can confirm that the number of prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli Occupation’s jails has increased to twelve.

Detainee Ayman Sharawna (36 years old) from Dura Al Khalil: Sharawna started his hunger strike on 1 July 2012 in protest of his re-arrest under Article 186 of Military Order 1651. This law allows a special military commission to effectively “cancel the early release” of prisoners who were released in the prisoners exchange deal. In Sharwana’s case, this means that he can be sentenced to serve the remaining 28 years of his sentence.

Sharawna briefly suspended his hunger strike in December 2012 at the promise of a court hearing to resolve his case. He resumed his hunger strike on 17 January 2013 after learning that the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) deceived him in their promise. He is currently in isolation in Ayalon Prison in Beer al-Saba’, and is subjected to harsh and degrading treatment by the IPS and the special forces.

On 20 February 2013, the Israeli Supreme Court considered an appeal in Sharawna’s name regarding Article 186 of Military Order 1651. The court decided to return the case to the Military Commission to make a decision, before it can be raised again in the Supreme Court.

Detainee Samer Al-Issawi (33 years old) from Issawiya, Jerusalem: Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) re-arrested Issawi on 7 July 2012. He has been on a hunger strike intermittently for over 200 days in protest of his arbitrary re-arrest. Issawi is a recently released ex-prisoner who was released in the latest prisoner exchange deal on 18 October 2011. He suffers from a severe decrease in weight as his weight hovers around 45 kilograms, a 23 kg decrease since his arrest. Issawi is not strong enough to move on his own and has to use a wheelchair. He recently escalated his hunger strike and stopped drinking water.

On 21 February 2013, the Israeli Magistrate Court sentenced Issawi to eight months as of the day of his arrest, on the grounds that he violated a military order by entering the West Bank. This ruling is in addition to a forthcoming sentencing by the Military Commission under Article 186 of Military Order 1651 which will consider if Issawi will be sentenced to complete his previous sentence of 20 years.

Administrative Detainees Jafar Azzidine (41 years old) and Tarek Qa’adan (40 years old), from Araba, Jenin: Azzidine and Qa’adan started their hunger strike on 28 November 2012, in protest of their administrative detention orders. On 24 February 2013, they were transferred from Ramleh Prison Clinic to Asaf Harove Hospital as their health condition seriously deteriorated due to their refusal to drink water. They were scheduled to have hearings today in Ofer Military Court to confirm their renewed administrative detention orders for an addition three months beginning on 22 February 2013. The court hearing was postponed until tomorrow (27 February 2013) and will be held in the hospital due to their fragile health condition and their inability to move.

Eight additional detainees announced their joining of the hunger strike. They are:

Detainee Mona Qa’adan from Araba, Jenin: Qa’adan entered a hunger strike on 20 February 2013 in support of her detained brother, Tarek Qa’adan, who is also on hunger strike. It is reported that she is currently in isolation as punishment for having joined the hunger strike.

Prisoner Maher Abdellatif Younis, the longest serving Palestinian prisoner in the Occupation’s jails: Younis began his hunger strike on 24 February
2013 and is currently in Gilboa Prison. He announced his strike with the goal of shedding light on the issue of pre-Oslo prisoners (who currently number 109), and the necessity of their release en masse without appeal. Younis (54 years old) is from the town of ‘Ara in the “Triangle” region in northern Palestine, and has spent over 30 years behind bars.

Administrative detainee Hazem Al-Tawil, resident of the city of Al-Khalil (Hebron): He entered an open hunger strike on 20 February 2013 after one day of detention in protest of the issuing of a six-month administrative detention order against him. He is currently in an isolation cell in Ofer Prison. It is noteworthy that Al-Tawil previously spent a year and a half in prison on the basis of administrative detention orders.

Detainee Samer Al-Barq (38 years old) from Jayyous, Qalqilia: The military prosecuter proceeded to renew an order of administrative detention against him last Sunday 24 February 2013, for a period of three months. The detainee undertook a number of hunger strikes in the past years and has been administratively detained since July 2010. He currently languishes behind bars in Hadarim Prison.

Addameer learned that detained Younis Al-Hroub announced a hunger strike in protest of his administrative detention. Prisoners Ayman Saker, Sofian Rabie and Omar Dar Ayyoub announced an open hunger strike in support of the other striking prisoners.

Addameer Prisoners’ Support and Human Rights Association expresses its concern for the lives of hunger striking prisoners and detainees and maintains that the just solution for the issue of striking prisoners lies in the meeting of their demands and the treatment of all Palestinian detainees in accordance with international humanitarian law, particularly the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions and other conventions of international human rights law.

Addameer calls on the Arab Republic of Egypt to work seriously on releasing all prisoners freed in the prisoners exchange deal and on forcing the Occupying State to cancel Article 186 of Military Order 1651, which authorizes the detention of freed prisoners.

Addameer condemns the decision of the Israeli Prison Service to forbid lawyers from visiting detainees and prisoners on hunger strike. Addameer considers this to be the latest installment in a series of abuses faced by the organization and its staff in an attempt to silence their voices and undermine their determination to support the fight for justice and freedom for prisoners, and the end of the occupation.

ACT NOW!

*Write to the Israeli government, military and legal authorities and demand the release of the prisoners on hunger strike.

Brigadier General Danny Efroni
Military Judge Advocate General
6 David Elazar Street
Harkiya, Tel Aviv
Israel
Fax: +972 3 608 0366; +972 3 569 4526
Email: arbel@mail.idf.il; avimn@idf.gov.il
Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon
OC Central Command Nehemia Base, Central Command
Neveh Yaacov, Jerusalam
Fax: +972 2 530 5741
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak
Ministry of Defense
37 Kaplan Street, Hakirya
Tel Aviv 61909, Israel
Fax: +972 3 691 6940 / 696 2757
Col. Eli Bar On
Legal Advisor of Judea and Samaria PO Box 5
Beth El 90631
Fax: +972 2 9977326

*Write to your own elected representatives urging them to pressure Israel to release the hunger strikers.


Gaza’s lawyers take to the streets for Jaradat

DSC04244d

Gazan judges and lawyers marched through the city to Al Jundy, demanding justice – read about it here in Alray Online

and watch the video below


Jaradat – Palestine’s Biko

from Alray Online

Jaradat

by Julie Webb-Pullman

The West Bank and Gaza have erupted in rage at the Israeli murder-by-torture of 30 year-old Palestinian father of two Arafat Shahin Jaradat, the 79th prisoner to die in Israeli jails since 2000 due to torture, medical neglect, excessive use of force during interrogation, or execution by arresting officers.

As the results of his autopsy circle the world, the western media is finally wakening from its slumber, to report on the latest Israeli atrocity.

Six broken bones in Jaradat’s neck, spine, arms and legs are only the beginning of the story. The autopsy also revealed evidence of severe torture on the muscle of the upper left shoulder, parallel to the spine in the lower neck area, and evidence of severe torture under the skin and inside the muscle of the right side of the chest. His second and third ribs on the right side of the chest were broken, and he also had injuries in the middle of the muscle in his right hand.

At a news conference in Ramallah this evening the PA Minister of Detainee Affairs Issa Qaraqe said, “The evidence corroborates our suspicion that Mr. Jaradat died as a result of torture, especially since the autopsy clearly proved that the victim’s heart was healthy, which disproves the initial alleged account presented by occupation authorities that he died of a heart attack.”

Jaradat’s lawyer Kameel Sabbagh said in a statement today that at his court appearance last Thursday in relation to a stone-throwing incident in November, Arafat Jaradat appeared hunched, sick, and fragile.

“He told me that he had serious pains in his back and other parts of his body because he was being beaten up and hanged for many long hours while he was being investigated.”

The Judge postponed the hearing for 12 days, and Sabbagh said, “When Jaradat heard that the judge postponed his hearing he seemed extremely afraid and asked me if he was going to spend the time left in the cell.”

Because of his concern for his client’s serious psychological state, Sabbagh said he informed the judge his client had been tortured. The judge ordered that Jaradat should be examined by the prison doctor but “this didn’t happen.”

One cannot but recall South African anti-apartheid martyr Steve Biko, who died alone and naked on the floor of a Pretoria Central Prison cell on 12 September 1977, following an “untreated head injury sustained during interrogation” by South African Security Police on 07 September, some 17 days after his detention.

Despite the police physician recommending Biko’s transfer to hospital after he fell into a continual, semi-conscious state, Biko was transported lying naked and shackled in the back of a Land Rover on a 12-hour 1,200 km journey to Pretoria, where he died a few hours after arrival.

The parallels don’t end there – the Biko killers’ first excuse was that Biko died of a hunger strike – one the Israeli’s clearly couldn’t try for fear of drawing even more attention to the critical health conditions of hunger-striking Palestinian detainees Ayman Sharawna, Samer Issawi, Jafar Azzidine, Yousef Yassin and Tarek Qa’adan – so they went for the ‘heart attack’ line. Now that the autopsy has exposed that for the shameless lie it was, we can probably expect the Israeli equivalent of the South African second fall-back position, an Israeli version of the “hit his head against a wall in a scuffle” number.

Another question that must be asked in common, as it was in the Biko case – who encouraged the Israeli forces to act in the manner that they did?

It has been widely reported that when the soldiers arrested Jaradat, they told him “say goodbye to your wife and your babies, you won’t be seeing them again,” strong evidence that they intended to kill him from the moment of his arrest.

In Biko’s case it was the threat of impending unity between the previously-antagonistic black consciousness activists of whom Biko was a leading figure, and the African National Congress (ANC), that struck fear into the hearts of South African apartheid security police.

The threat of impending unity between Palestinian factions is not only a fear, but fast becoming a painful reality for Israeli security forces.

It remains to be seen whether the PA can be bought for $1 million – according to Channel 10 in Israel today, Netanyahu instructed Israeli authorities to transfer the PA its tax revenues for January, “so that they won’t have an excuse not to enforce calm on the ground.”

So far at least, the PA remains unmoved, with Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior Abbas aide, responding that it is Israel’s treatment of prisoners and anti-Palestinian violence by Jewish settlers that is the cause of the unrest.

Netanyahu’s callous, calculated and cynical disregard for the death of Jaradat echoes that of Jimmy Kruger, then South African Minister of Justice, who sent waves of outrage through the world with his comment “Biko’s death leaves me cold.”

The brutal circumstances of Steve Biko’s death saw such an international outcry that the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) finally responded by imposing an arms embargo against South Africa.

So too should the death of Arafat Shahin Jaradat finally wake the western world from its torpor, to rein in the rogue state of Israel from its relentless riding roughshod over the rights – and lives – of Palestinians.

So too should the death of Arafat Shahin Jaradat finally wake the UNSC from its torpor, to impose an arms embargo against Israel.

The five policemen who murdered Steve Biko finally admitted their guilt 20 years later, when seeking amnesty from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1997.

Among its findings were the following:

“The Commission finds that the death in detention of Mr Stephen Bantu Biko on 12 September 1977 was a gross human rights violation. Magistrate Marthinus Prins found that the members of the SAP were not implicated in his death. The magistrate’s finding contributed to the creation of a culture of impunity in the SAP. Despite the inquest finding no person responsible for his death, the Commission finds that, in view of the fact that Biko died in the custody of law enforcement officials, the probabilities are that he died as a result of injuries sustained during his detention.”

Palestinians are not prepared to wait 20 years for an official finding of what the whole world knows today, following the autopsy – the death in Israeli detention of Arafat Shahin Jaradat on 23 February 2013 was a gross human rights violation. It was the 79th such gross human rights violation since 2000.

Palestinians are not prepared to wait 20 years for an official finding regarding the culture of impunity for Israeli prison authorities. There are at least 4,500 examples of them today, right under our noses in prisons throughout Israel, four of whom are at death’s door.

Palestinian are not prepared to wait 20 years to decide that the probabilities are that Arafat Shahin Jaradat died as a result of injuries sustained during his detention.

They know that, already.

Biko’s death was not in vain – nor will be that of Jaradat.

Israel – and the international community – ignore that at their peril.


Gaza’s new Justice Minister hits the ground running

Gaza City

13 February 2013

Building new prisons is a leading priority of Dt Attallah Abu Elsebah, newly-appointed Minister for Justice in Gaza.

In an interview last week, Dr Abu Elsebah highlighted the problems facing his Ministry, including a lack of buildings, a lack of judges, lack of capacity to cope with more prisoners, and the obstacles to addressing these difficulties presented by the ongoing siege of Gaza.

“Unfortunately because of Israeli attacks on correctional facilities, such as last November on the Saraya complex which held a lot of prisoners, we have little capacity for additional prisoners, and we cannot build because of the crippling siege, and because there are few funds for this type of project, so we are facing a huge problem,” he said.

Later in the week, he was tragically proved correct. Mahrous Fathi Nassar, 37, who was being held in a Gaza police detention centre, died of meningitis on 08 February after being transferred to Al Shifa hospital.

Overcrowded living conditions is a factor that puts people at higher risk of developing meningococcal disease, as it is spread by coughing and sneezing and requires close and continued contact. Such are the conditions Gaza prisoners increasingly find themselves in – and it is not the fault of the government.

Ongoing Israeli offensives targeting Gaza security facilities, and the Israeli siege which prevents the entry of building materials to reconstruct damaged and destroyed correctional facilities in Gaza, contribute directly to creating the conditions responsible for deaths such as that of Mahrous Fathi Nassar.

The Gaza government is not sitting on its hands.

“With all of the support and prayers from Arab countries and from Islamic communities around the world, for sure Gaza will rise again – we will undertake an extensive building programme which will include these projects, under the supervision of the justice and police departments,” the new Minister of Justice concluded.

Some facts about meningitis
• Up to 15 percent of people carry the bacteria that cause meningococcal disease in their nose and throat without being sick. It is not yet fully understood why in some people these bacteria go on to cause disease.
• Sufferers often exhibit flu-like symptoms, such as headache, fever, joint pain, drowsiness or confusion. Additional symptoms that are suggestive of meningococcal infection are light sensitivity or a dislike of bright lights, stiff neck, vomiting, and the appearance of a rash.
• People infected with the bacteria can deteriorate very rapidly. For example, a 12-year-old girl died in New Zealand last September only two hours after breaking out in a rash. In 2011 13 people in NZ died from meningococcal disease.

Watch the interview here:


Israel: UN expert calls for the immediate release of three Palestinian detainees on hunger strike held without charges

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

PRESS RELEASE

GENEVA (13 February 2013) – United Nations Special Rapporteur Richard Falk today called for the immediate release of three Palestinian detainees held without charges by Israel. Mr. Falk expressed deep concern for the fate of Tarek Qa’adan and Jafar Azzidine, who are on their 78th day of hunger strike, and Samer Al-Issawi, who has been on partial hunger strike for over 200 days.

“Continuing to hold Mr. Qa’adan, Mr Azzidine and Mr. Al-Issawi under these conditions is inhumane. Israel is responsible for any permanent harm,” warned the independent expert designated by the Human Rights Council to monitor and report on Israeli rights violations in Palestine. “If Israeli officials cannot present evidence to support charges against these men, then they must be released immediately.”

“Mr. Qa’adan and Mr. Azzidine are reportedly on the verge of death, with the threat of a fatal heart attack looming,” the expert noted, recalling that both men were arrested on 22 November 2012 and began their hunger strikes on 28 November, after being sentenced to administrative detention for a period of three months. They were transferred to Assaf Harofi Hospital near Tel Aviv on 24 January 2013 after their conditions deteriorated sharply.

This is the second time that Mr. Azzidine and Mr. Qa’adan have undertaken hunger strikes against administrative detention, since they took part in the mass hunger strike of Palestinians from 17 April to 14 May 2012. Mr. Qa’adan had been released after 15 months of detention on 8 July 2012 and Mr. Azzidine had been released on 19 June 2012 after three months of detention, before being re-arrested.

“Israel must end the appalling and unlawful treatment of Palestinian detainees. The international community must react with a sense of urgency and use whatever leverage it possesses to end Israel’s abusive reliance on administrative detention,” urged the Special Rapporteur.

Mr. Falk noted that Israel currently holds at least 178 Palestinians in administrative detention.

ENDS


Pillay concerned about health of Palestinian detainees

Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights

PRESS RELEASE

GENEVA (13 February 2013) – The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, expressed Wednesday her concern following reports of the fast deteriorating health condition of three Palestinians detainees on hunger strike and currently held in Israeli custody.

Tarek Qa’adan and Jafar Azzidine have been on hunger strike for 78 days to protest against their administrative detention by Israel, while Samer Al-Issawi has been on partial hunger strike for over 200 days.

“I am concerned about the health conditions of these three Palestinian detainees on hunger strike,” Pillay said.

The High Commissioner reiterated her concerns with regard to the use of administrative detention by Israel. “Persons detained must be charged and face trial with judicial guarantees in accordance with international standards, or be promptly released,” the High Commissioner said.

ENDS


Prisoner Issawi transferred to Asaf Harofee Prison hospital in critical condition

12 December 2012

Following a telephone call she made to the sister of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner Samer Issawi, Malaka Mohammed reported that Issawi has been transferred to Asaf Harofee Prison hospital in a critical condition.

His sister told her that Samer Issawi is suffering from advanced muscle wasting, and that he has lost control of his body as a result of a severe nerve disorder.

“He is vomiting blood, his heart is weakening, and he has difficulty breathing,” she told Malaka.