Over the past 46 years, Israel has detained more than 650,000 Palestinians. The Israeli forces continue to carry out mass arrests throughout the West Bank, which are often violent and they frequently cause wanton damage to the homes of those arrested. Last week alone, Al-Haq documented the arrest of approximately 44 Palestinians, including 14 people in one night from Jayyous, near Qalqiliya. In addition, Israeli forces shot and arrested a disabled Palestinian man in Hebron on 11 April 2013.
On 17 April of last year, Palestinian Prisoner’s Day, Tha’er Aziz Halahleh was on his 48th day of hunger strike in protest against his administrative detention without charge or trial in an Israeli prison. Tha’er, who spent nearly six and a half of the past 12 years of his life in administrative detention, ended his hunger strike after 77 days and was released on 6 June 2012. Tha’er was once again arbitrarily arrested by Israeli forces on 10 April and he remains in prison today, meaning that he once again commemorated Prisoner’s Day in an Israeli detention centre. There are currently 178 Palestinians being held by Israel without charge or trial or any indication as to when they will be released.
Lack of a fair trial and denial of due process, forcible transfer and deportation, physical and mental mistreatment and torture, medical neglect and violations against children are all everyday aspects of the Israeli prison experience for Palestinians. In the past two months, two Palestinian prisoners have died in Israeli detention centres. Arafat Shalish Jaradat, 30, died on 23 February 2013 as a direct result of torture and ill-treatment while Maysara Ahmad Abu Hamdiyya, 60, who suffered from throat cancer, died after he was denied appropriate medical treatment for a prolonged period of time by the Israeli Prison Service (IPS). Despite the fact that Maysara often fainted due to severe pain, he was given regular painkillers by the prison authorities. He died on 2 April 2013.
Tha’er Aziz Halahla – Ramallah and Al-Bireh Governorate
On 10 April 2013, at approximately 2:30 am, Tha’er and his wife Shirin woke up to find some 20 masked Israeli soldiers entering their bedroom in Um al-Sharayet neighbourhood in al-Bireh. Five soldiers grabbed Tha’er and dragged him outside to the living room while other soldiers searched the house. From the bedroom, Shirin witnessed a soldier strike Tha’er on his back, after which the soldiers closed the door and ordered Shirin not to leave her bedroom. Both Shirin and Tha’er were questioned for thirty minutes and the soldiers left, taking Tha’er and his mobile and laptop.
Afterwards, Shirin walked to the balcony that overlooked the street. From the vantage point, she saw a large unit of Israeli soldiers surrounding the building. Tha’er, who was arguing with one of the soldiers, was handcuffed and blindfolded. Shortly afterwards, six soldiers returned to the apartment to collect medicine and glasses belonging to Tha’er and told Shirin that her one-month-old son would have to grow up without his father.
The following day, the lawyer of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club visited Tha’er and confirmed that he had bruises on his face and arms. Tha’er’s detention order was extended for an additional 12 days and at the time of writing he was still being held in Israeli custody without charge or trial. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 8543/2013)
Al-Haq interview with Shirin and Tha’er Halahleh on 7 March 2013 on the psychological effects of administrative detention on their lives and marriage.
M’utaz Muhammad-Faraj ‘Ebedo – Hebron Governorate
On 10 November 2011, Israeli soldiers shot M’utaz in the abdomen while he was trying to escape arrest. M’utaz, 33, who was left with paralysis in his left leg, was arrested and held in administrative detention for four months.
On 11 April 2013, at around 4:00 am, Sub’hi Abdulla Abu Dayya, 55, who lives in Wadi al-Hariyya neighbourhood, was woken by seven Israeli soldiers hammering on the door of his house. Sub’hi was taken outside, where he was searched, forced to sit on the pavement and questioned about the shops nearby. When he mentioned the shop belonging to his neighbour M’utaz ‘Ebedo, the soldiers asked whether or not M’utaz was in the shop. The soldiers then unsuccessfully tried to force open the door of M’utaz’s shop using the butts of their rifles.
Ten minutes later, the soldiers succeeded in opening the shop and they threw two sound bombs and fired once inside the shop. Sub’hi heard M’utaz calling for mercy and then saw several soldiers entering the shop. The soldiers threw some of M’utaz’s merchandise and his wheelchair onto the street. The soldiers dragged M’utaz outside and spent 30 minutes searching his shop. The soldiers then placed M’utaz on a stretcher and transferred him to a military vehicle. When the soldiers left, Sub’hi went to help the neighbours to collect the goods from the street and return them to the shop again. He noted that blood had marked the same spot in the street where M’utaz had been left waiting. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 8542/2013)
According to the Prisoner’s Club lawyer, M’utaz underwent surgery to his left hand on Friday, 12 April. On 14 April, M’utaz was permitted to call his family to inform them that he was being transferred from ‘Ofar prison to al-Ramla prison medical clinic. The family did not receive information on the grounds of M’utaz’s arrest.