[Ppnews] Israel uses "primitive, racist" policies against Palestinian prisoners

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Aug 11 12:04:29 EDT 2011

Israel uses "primitive, racist" policies against Palestinian prisoners

<http://electronicintifada.net/people/mel-frykberg>Mel Frykberg
11 August 2011

RAMALLAH (IPS) - "I'm sick with worry about my daughter," Yehiya 
al-Shalabi says. "I'm afraid of what they are doing to her. She has 
done nothing to deserve this. If they have anything against her why 
don't they bring her to trial?"

Hana al-Shalabi, Yehiya's 27-year-old daughter, has been languishing 
in Israeli administrative detention for more than two years. She is 
the longest serving Palestinian female political prisoner in 

According to her lawyer, the young woman from Jenin in the northern 
West Bank does not know why Israeli soldiers arrested her several 
years ago. She also does not know how long they will keep her in jail 
or what they will charge her with.

Shalabi, like nearly 200 other Palestinian prisoners, is being held 
in Hasharon prison. A senior Israeli military officer has just 
renewed the administrative detention order against her for the fourth time.

Israel's "administrative detention" policy states that Palestinian 
political prisoners can be held for six months without trial or 
charges being brought against them. The detention order can be 
renewed every six months.

According to the official narrative, the policy of administrative 
detention is used by the Israeli military when they have "classified 
and secret" information against Palestinian prisoners. Both the 
prisoner and their lawyer are forbidden from seeing the classified 
information, and therefore are unable to challenge accusations or to 
question those who made the accusations.

The administrative detention policy is used when Israeli authorities 
have "secret witnesses" such as Palestinian informants, or has 
obtained intelligence in a clandestine manner which would not stand 
up in an Israeli civilian court but are par for the course in Israeli 
military courts.

No fair trial

"It's a primitive and racist way to hold a trial and no civilized 
country in the world uses such methods. Needless to say Israel's 
legal system could never do this to an Israeli Jew. Even the Israeli 
settlers who carry out acts of terror against Palestinians in the 
West Bank are not treated in this manner," Qadura Fares, the 
president of the Palestinian Society Prisoners' Club in Ramallah, said.

"Administrative detainees are not given a fair trial. Basically the 
Israeli military prosecutor and the military judge are in agreement. 
It is very rare for a judge to disagree with the military 
prosecutor," Fares says.

In the 1970s Ali Jamal, also from Jenin, spent seven years in 
administrative detention. He holds the record for the longest 
administrative detention to date.

"At that time the Israeli military courts relied on confessions from 
Palestinian prisoners for convictions," Fares explained. "But Jamal 
wouldn't confess so the laws were changed to allow the 'secret 
witnesses and secret files' to be used by the IDF [Israeli military] 
to convict political prisoners."

The soldiers came for Hana al-Shalabi in the middle of the night over 
two years ago. "They ransacked the house and assaulted me when I 
tried to stop them from taking my daughter away," Yehiya al-Shalabi 
said. "My daughter had finished her studies and was engaged to get 
married. She was very diligent and stayed home most of the time 
except for when she helped tend our agricultural crops. She had no 
social life outside and wasn't political in any way."

However, Israeli special forces assassinated Hana's 24-year-old 
brother several years ago after they accused him of being a member of 
Islamic Jihad, Yehiya said. "They had shot and wounded him. He phoned 
us, as he lay badly injured on the ground. But before he could finish 
the call the death squad moved in and shot him at close range, 
several times in the head and in the eye."

The conditions in administrative detention are harsh, just as they 
are for all Palestinian prisoners.

Confessions through coercion

"Confessions are coerced through physical and verbal humiliation, 
torture, emotional blackmail such as bringing in elderly or sick 
relatives who are held as hostages until the prisoner confesses," Fares said.

Imani Nafa, aged 47, spent ten years in an Israeli jail as a young 
woman, from 1987 to 1997 during the first Palestinian intifada. Nafa 
had everything going for her. She had finished university and was 
working as a nurse. But, she became politically involved and had 
planned to carry out a shooting and bombing attack against Israeli soldiers.

Nafa was caught and kept in a filthy, cramped cell with no window. 
Fluorescent lights were kept on permanently, causing sensory 
deprivation and the inability to distinguish between day and night.

"I was beaten and held in stress positions while handcuffed for 
several days, unable to move. I was deprived of sleep and when the 
interrogation finished I was forced to drink from the drain in my 
cell and eat mouldy food," Nafa said. "I was told that if I worked 
with them to spy on other prisoners I would be freed, but if I 
refused to do so I would be imprisoned for a very long time and 
harshly treated."

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