470 Palestinians arrested since prisoner exchange, political activists targeted
International Solidarity Movement
In a blatant demonstration of the discriminatory policies used by the Israeli authorities when it comes to deal with protesters; out of the 21 persons who were arrested during the demonstration in Nabi Saleh on 16.12.2011, all the Israeli and internationals were released while two Palestinians are still in custody and are accused with ludicrous charges such as assaulting Israeli settler or throwing stones. This is so outrageous when you see how much the Israeli army kept assaulting the unarmed protesters yesterday, showering them with tear gas canisters and sound bombs directly at heads levels. In response the protesters just kept walking, chanting and shouting slogans, waving Palestinian flags and posters with the portraits of Mustafa Tamimi; killed the week before. Stones were thrown towards the “invaders” after they attack the crowd which was marching towards the entrance of the village.
Both Palestinians who were arrested were unarmed; they were protesting against the occupation and colonization of their lands. Arrests of human rights defenders and Palestinians involved in the popular resistance is no exceptional this is routine practice from the Israeli Occupying forces which this way attempt to curtail any dissent.
This is not an coincidence that they are trying to charge Mohammad Katib, one [of] the main leaders of popular resistance in Palestine. The fact that he is from Bi’lin and was in Nabi Saleh was also significant, it shows that the struggles of these villages are not disconnected. And this is exactly what Israel fears- that the struggles in those villages grow and take the popular resistance to another level.
Mohammad Tamimi from Nabi Saleh was also arrested when he walked towards the Israeli soldiers who were preventing the protesters to reach the village spring which was confiscated two years ago by the settlers. Mohammad is known to be the photographer of the village.
Both were arrested in doing exactly the same thing as the others 19 who were arrested in the same circumstances. Actually the Israeli army should have arrested all of us- the hundreds of protesters who joined this Friday the villagers of Nabi Saleh to raise our voice against the continuing oppression in Palestinians and to honour Mustafa Tamimi, killed in cold blood the week before by an Israeli soldier courageously half hidden in a military jeep. He shot directly at Mustafa’s face from a distance less than 10 meters.
The details about the charges and proceedings against Mohammad Katib and Mohammad Tamimi will be clearer in the next hours and a campaign is now starting to demand their immediate release. If they are arrested and jailed for what they did yesterday, then we should all be.
Ramallah —Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) have arrested nearly 470 Palestinians since 18 October 2011, when 477 Palestinian political prisoners were released in exchange for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit as part of the first phase of the prisoner exchange deal concluded by the Israeli government and Hamas authorities. This wave of arrests reveals that the exchange deal has not deterred Israel’s policy of detention of Palestinians; rather, Israeli prisons are being refilled with almost the exact number of Palestinians that were released in October. Even the released prisoners were not safe from harassment, as the IOF has regularly raided their homes, issued summons to meet with Israeli intelligence and re-arrested one individual.
The 470 Palestinians who were arrested between 18 October and 12 December include about 70 children and 11 women. The IOF continued to employ brutal methods of arrest, including the use of undercover Israeli forces, commonly known as musta’arabeen, who dress as Palestinian civilians in order to carry out ambushes and arrests of Palestinians from their homes and places of work. In many cases, joint army and intelligence raids occurred after midnight, where soldiers deliberately destroyed contents of the houses they were searching.
Of the 70 children arrested during this period, the majority are from Shuafat camp in Jerusalem and Dheisheh camp in Bethlehem. In the past two weeks alone, 11 children were arrested in Shuafat and 10 in Dheisheh. Two of the 11 women arrested in the past two months remain in detention. One of the released women is Isra Salhab, a journalist who spent more than 20 days in Moskobiyyeh interrogation center. Six of the women were arrested during a demonstration outside Hasharon prison, where they were calling for the release of female prisoners not included in the first phase of the prisoner exchange. Three of these women were released shortly after their arrest, and three were sentenced to house arrest.
Political activists were especially targeted for arrest during this period. Approximately 150 arrests of alleged party members occurred, particularly including those whom the IOF claims are active in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), some of whom received indictments issued against them, while others received administrative detention orders. The IOF has continued to arrest and renew administrative detention orders of members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). Two PLC members were arrested since 18 October, the administrative detention orders of 6 PLC members were renewed and one PLC member received a 30-year sentence. Furthermore, on 27 October, following a mass hunger strike protesting punitive measures against prisoners including the use of isolation, the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) renewed the isolation order for Ahmad Sa’adat for another year. At the beginning of December, Ahmad entered his 34th consecutive month in isolation.
The IOF also continued to carry out arrests against human rights defenders in order to further repress the popular resistance movement. During the past two months, arrests of protestors participating in peaceful demonstrations occurred in almost all of the villages with an active weekly demonstration. These arrests include at least 2 from Bil’in, 3 from Nabi Saleh, 17 from Beit Ummar, 3 from Al-Ma’asara, 1 from Kufr Qaddum and 2 from Al-Walajeh, with arrests in East Jerusalem and the South Hebron Hills as well. In addition to these arrests, the IOF used extreme violence to disperse demonstrations, resulting in the death of protestor Mustafa, 28, on 10 December. Mustafa was fatally injured when hit by a teargas canister in the head fired at close range by an Israeli soldier on 9 December, during the weekly demonstration against the Israeli settlements and Annexation Wall in Nabi Saleh. The arrests of human rights defenders, use of violence against peaceful protestors and threats to family members of activists are in clear violation of Palestinians’ right to freedom of expression and assembly.
In light of this heightened wave of arrests, Addameer is concerned about what will happen after the conclusion of the second phase of the prisoner exchange deal. The IPS has announced that 550 prisoners will be released on Sunday 18 December. Addameer calls for the implementation of the rights of released prisoners and urges the international community, including the United Nations and European Union, to intervene rapidly to prevent Israel from its continued practice of brutal and arbitrary detention.
ADDAMEER (Arabic for conscience) Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association is a Palestinian non-governmental, civil institution that works to support Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli and Palestinian prisons. Established in 1992 by a group of activists interested in human rights, the center offers free legal aid to political prisoners, advocates their rights at the national and international level, and works to end torture and other violations of prisoners’ rights through monitoring, legal procedures and solidarity campaigns.