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Sunday, 11 March 2012

Release All Palestinian Female Political Prisoners


As the ‘only democracy in the Middle East’ Israel demonstrates its democratic credentials through locking up hundreds of prisoners in Administrative Detention i.e. without trial. Not that the trials are anything but a foregone conclusion but at least they have to present some evidence. In the case of those whose only crime is political opposition to the Occupation, there is no alternative but lock them up without trial.

Tony Greenstein

Free Lina Jarbuni, Wurud Qassem, Salwa Hassan, Alaa Jubeh, Hana Shalabi,Yusra Qaadan and Manal Suwan!

Ramallah, 7 March 2012

Join Addameer and call for the immediate release of all female political prisoners and detainees from Israeli prisons on Women’s Day, 8 March 2012. As of March 2012, seven Palestinian women remain in Israel’s prisons and detention centers, including one woman, Hana Shalabi, currently held in administrative detention and on hunger strike for 21 days.

Over 10,000 Palestinian women have been arrested and detained since 1967 under Israeli military orders, which govern nearly every aspect of life in the occupied Palestinian territory. There were 36 Palestinian female prisoners in Israeli prisons prior to the exchange deal concluded by the Israeli government and Hamas in October 2011. Hamas reported that Israel agreed to include all female political prisoners in the exchange deal. However, two women, Lina Jarbuni and Wurud Qassem, who have been in prison since before the first phase of releases on 18 October 2011, and an additional two women, Salwa Hassan and Alaa Jubeh, who were arrested before the second phase of releases on 18 December 2011, are still in Israeli detention.

Addameer aims to raise awareness about each of the seven women currently detained by Israel, two of whom were arrested just this week, in the hopes that continued international pressure will secure their release:

Lina Jarbuni was arrested on 18 April 2002 and sentenced to 17 years in Israeli prison. She is currently held in Hasharon Prison. She is from Arrabet al-Batoof, in the Galilee region. Lina is 36 years old.

Wurud Qassem was 20 years old when she was arrested on 4 October 2006. She was sentenced to 6 years in prison and is currently held in Damon Prison. Wurud is from Al-Tira, in the Triangle region, and is now 25 years old.

Salwa Hassan was arrested on 19 October 2011, and is currently in Hasharon prison awaiting trial. She is 53 years old and lives in Hebron. Salwa is married and has six children.

Alaa Jubeh was only 17 years old when she was arrested from her home in Hebron on 7 December 2011. She is currently detained in Hasharon prison and has not yet been sentenced. Under Israeli military orders, a Palestinian child’s sentence is decided on the basis of the child’s age at the time of sentencing, and not at the time when the alleged offense was committed. Therefore, because Alaa turned 18 on 29 January 2012, she will now be sentenced as an adult.

Hana Shalabi was re-arrested on 16 February 2012, less than four months after being released as part of the prisoner exchange deal on 18 October 2011. Hana had previously spent over two years in administrative detention. She received a six-month administrative detention order on 23 February 2012, which was reduced to four months on 4 March. Hana began an open hunger strike immediately after her arrest, and will enter her 22nd day without food on Women’s Day. She is currently detained in Hasharon Prison. Hana is from Burqin village, near Jenin, and is 30 years old.

Yusra Qaadan was arrested on 4 March 2012, while visiting a family member in prison. She is currently detained for interrogation in Beersheva. Yusra, 30 years old, is from Qalqilya. She is married and has four children.

Manal Suwan was arrested on 6 March 2012 and is currently under interrogation in Hasharon Prison. Manal, married and a mother of two, is 31 years old. She is from a village near Qalqilya.

Addameer reiterates its concern about the general conditions Palestinian female prisoners and detainees face while in Israeli prisons, which has been carefully documented. Addameer condemns the cruel and discriminatory treatment that Palestinian women prisoners and detainees are subjected to in prison, including sexual harassment, psychological and physical punishment and humiliation, and a lack of gender-sensitive healthcare. These practices are in contravention to international law and must stop immediately.

There are crucial steps that can be taken by the Israeli authorities, particularly the Israeli military and the Israeli Prison Service, to fulfill their obligations under international law in respect to the detention conditions of Palestinian women and in protection of their human rights:

§ End the systematic abuse of administrative detention and provide every female detainee and prisoner with access to the legal support she is entitled to under international humanitarian law;

§ Provide female prisoners with detailed information on the length of their detention and the date of their release without undue delay;

§ Ensure that prison and detention cells meet basic requirements of hygiene and health as required by the UN Minimum Standard Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners;

§ Immediately bring to an end practices of sexual violence, including strip searches and invasive body searches and use of threats and/or other forms of sexual assault;

§ Conduct proper independent and serious investigations into complaints of assault, and provide safeguards until proper investigation outcomes are reached;

§ Allow visits of specialized doctors adequately trained to deliver health care in a prison environment, including mental health doctors, and ensure that hospital/doctor visits are allowed when requested;

§ Allow open family visits and communication with family members via phone.

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ACT NOW!

Here is how you can help these seven Palestinian women prisoners:

§ Attend an event supporting Palestinian female prisoners on Women’s Day. Addameer would like to draw attention to various local actions supporting Hana Shalabi and women’s rights, including a demonstration at Qalandia checkpoint at 12:30pm, a march starting at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem at 2:00pm, and a protest in Haifa.

§ Send a letter with the above statement and recommendations to:

Israeli Prison Service

Ministry of Public Security
P.O. Box 18182
Jerusalem 91181

Brigadier General Danny Efroni
Military Advocate General
6 David Elazar Street
Harkiya, Tel Aviv
Fax: +972 3 608 0366; +972 3 569 4526
Email: arbel@mail.idf.il; avimn@idf.gov.il

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak
Ministry of Defense
37 Kaplan Street, Hakirya
Tel Aviv 61909
Fax: +972 3 691 6940 / 696 2757

Maj. Gen. Avi Mizrahi
OC Central Command Nehemia Base, Central Command
Neveh Yaacov, Jerusalam
Fax: +972 2 530 5741

Col. Eli Bar On
Legal Advisor of Judea and Samaria
PO Box 5
Beit El 90631
Fax: +972 2 9977326

§ Write to your own elected representatives urging them to pressure Israel to release all Palestinian women prisoners.



§ Send letters of support to the women in prison. If you wish to write letters to a detainee – please contact Addameer at info@addameer.ps and we will provide you with details.





Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association
P. O. Box: 17338, Jerusalem
Tel:+972 (0)2 296 0446 / 297 0136
Fax: +972 (0)2 296 0447
Email: info@addameer.ps
Website: www.addameer.org
HANA YAHYA SHALABI

Date of birth: 7 February 1982
Place of residence: Burqin, Jenin
Date of arrest: 16 February 2012
Place of detention: HaSharon Prison

Postal address:
Hasharon Prison
Even Yehuda
P.O. Box 7
40330 Israel

Click here to view this profile as a PDF.

Hana Shalabi was released from over two years in administrative detention on 18 October 2011, as part of the prisoner exchange deal concluded by the Israeli government and Hamas, whereby 1,027 Palestinian political prisoners were released in exchange for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Hana was re-arrested less than four months later on 16 February 2012, and immediately began a hunger strike in protest of her detention.

ARREST

Hana Shalabi was arrested from her family home on 16 February 2012, when 50 Israeli soldiers raided her house in Burqin village, near Jenin, in the early morning. The soldiers were accompanied by an intelligence officer and a large number of dogs and first raided her brother’s home before coming to her house. The IOF moved through his house with the pack of dogs, causing the children of the household to panic. When the soldiers entered Hana and her parents’ house, the intelligence officer commented that it would just be a “five minute visit.” The Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) then ordered Hana and some of her family members to leave the house, while holding her father and older brother in a room by themselves.

After the soldiers searched the house, the intelligence officer announced that they had an order to arrest Hana, without showing any arrest warrant or providing any reason for her arrest. Hana was not permitted to change her clothes. The IOF then proceeded to brutally threaten and abuse Hana and her family. First, Hana’s brother heard the intelligence officer say, “Hana must die.” Next, one of the soldiers grabbed her hand and pulled her. Hana objected and told him that if they needed to hold her, they should bring a female soldier to do it. He completely disregarded her and when she tried to remove his hand, he began to beat her upper body and slap her in the face. Hana’s brother, Omar, attempted to jump in front of her to protect her, but the soldiers attacked him and beat him with their guns. A female soldier was then brought to detain her. Hana was blindfolded and put in a military jeep, where she was made to sit on the ground on her knees. Each time she tried to move, the soldiers ordered her to stay still and shut up.

HUNGER STRIKE AND ADMINISTRATIVE DETENTION

Hana was taken to Salem Detention Center and left blindfolded for two hours in a tiny room before being transferred to HaSharon Prison. While at Salem Detention Center she was further subjected to beatings and humiliating treatment. Hana began an open hunger strike on the first day of her arrest in protest of the ill-treatment she was subjected to during and following her arrest. She was kept in solitary confinement for the first three days of her detention, in a section of the prison far from where the other Palestinian women are held.

On the fourth day following her arrest, Hana was transferred to a different section of the prison near the other Palestinian detainees, but was again placed in a room alone. The Israeli Prison Service (IPS) administration attempted continuously to convince her to end her hunger strike, employing such methods of pressure as threatening to place her in solitary confinement for an extended period. Two days later, on 21 February, Hana was transferred back to Salem for interrogation.

After being brought back to HaSharon Prison, she was taken to Salem Military Court on 23 February, where one of her lawyers informed her that she might be placed in administrative detention. She was brought back to HaSharon and was not shown a written administrative detention order. Her lawyers received a copy of the order, which states that she will be put in administrative detention for six months, until 16 August.

On the same day, 23 February, Hana was also sentenced to seven days of solitary confinement as punishment for her hunger strike. The IPS continued to threaten her with prolonged isolation or placing other female prisoners in isolation. After only four days, on 27 February, Hana was transferred out of solitary confinement and into the same section as the other Palestinian female prisoners.

As of 27 February when Addameer lawyer Samer Sam’an visited her, Hana is not ingesting any kind of food or minerals, and is only drinking water. After an initial medical examination, she is now refusing further exams.

The hearing to consider the confirmation of her administrative detention order was supposed to occur on 27 February at Ofer Military Court, but was postponed until 29 February. During the hearing, the military gudge announced that he would not be making a decision and would instead be meeting with an Israeli intelligence officer on 4 March. In the meeting, neither Hana nor her lawyers will be permitted to be present. The military judge will make his decision regarding the confirmation of her order following the meeting.

PERSONAL INFORMATION

On 23 February, Hana’s mother, 65 years old, and father, 67 years old, also began an open hunger strike in solidarity with their daughter.

Hana is one of nine children in a family of farmers in Burqin village, next to Jenin. On 29 September 2005, Hana’s brother Samer was killed by Israeli forces during an incursion in the village. He had been released from prison for only three months after spending nine months in prison when a group of soldiers came to their farm to re-arrest him and instead shot and killed him and his close friend.

After being released from prison on 18 October, Hana planned to study nursing at Al-Rawda College in Nablus. As she was re-arrested less than four months later, she did not have time to enroll.

Prior to her first arrest by the Israeli authorities, Hana was arrested and held by the Palestinian intelligence forces for a week in 2009 for the purpose of interrogation. During this period, Hana was permitted to sleep at home and was kept in detention from 9:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. each day.

PREVIOUS ARREST AND DETENTION

Hana was first arrested by Israeli authorities from her family home on 14 September 2009. At approximately 1:30 a.m. that morning, Israeli soldiers in 12 military jeeps surrounded her house in Burqin village. The soldiers ordered Hana’s entire family outside of the house and demanded Hana give them her identity card. They then proceeded to conduct a thorough search of the family’s home. During the search, one of the soldiers forcibly removed framed pictures of Hana’s brother Samer, who was killed by the Israeli army in 2005, tore them apart and walked over the pieces in front of the entire family. The soldiers then started shouting and cursing at Hana and her family members. When Hana’s father attempted to intervene and protect his daughter from continued verbal abuse, one Israeli soldier pushed him in the chest with the butt of a rifle. Clearly distressed, Hana’s mother fainted at this scene. The soldiers then handcuffed Hana in painfully tight shackles around her wrists and placed her under arrest.

Hana was then transferred by military jeep to Salem Detention Center. During the transfer, Hana’s abaya, a traditional Muslim religious dress covering the entire body worn by women over home clothes, came open, uncovering her clothes and parts of her body. Some of the male soldiers accompanying her in the jeep took pictures of her at this point, consciously exploiting her situation, knowing she would feel offended and humiliated by such photos. Upon arrival to Salem Detention Center, a doctor gave Hana a quick physical examination. Immediately after the examination, Hana was transferred to Kishon Detention Center inside Israel where her interrogation formally began.

Solitary confinement and abuse

Hana was held in solitary confinement at Kishon Detention Center for eight consecutive days, in a cell measuring six square meters that contained no windows or natural sunlight. The cell contained only a mattress and a bathroom, and was reportedly very dirty. Hana was subjected to exhausting interrogation sessions every day, which lasted from 10:00 a.m. until the late evening hours. The lack of natural sunlight during this period caused her to lose all sense of time and she was often unable to determine whether it was night or day. As this period of isolation and disorientation coincided with the holy month of Ramadan, Hana was unable to monitor time in order to respect her fast. As a result, she decided not to eat at all, refusing meals and drinking water only during the entire eight day period.

Hana was also subjected to sexual harassment and physical violence during her interrogation. Hana told Addameer attorney Safa Abdo of an incident that occurred at end of an interrogation session, in which she did not confess to committing a crime, as her interrogators had expected. In a move that Addameer contends was an effort to provoke Hana, one of the Israeli interrogators called Hana “habibti” (Arabic for “darling”) in a provocative manner. Feeling humiliated and angry at the interrogator’s offensive use of an intimate term, Hana started shouting at him. The interrogators responded by slapping her on her face and beating her on her arms and hands. The guards then took her back to her cell where they tied her to the bed frame and continued humiliating her by taking pictures of her laying in that position.

Addameer filed a complaint regarding these violations and only received a reply two years later from the district prosecution in Haifa that they were closing the file for “lack of evidence,” without informing her lawyers what process had taken place to investigate the complaint. Most complaints of this kind are similarly closed due to the unclear claim of “lack of evidence,” showing a consistent policy that they are not taken seriously by the Israeli courts. Addameer is greatly concerned by the deliberate verbal abuse Israeli detaining authorities display towards Palestinian female prisoners by directing sexual threats towards them and using inappropriate, vulgar language.

Administrative detention

After Hana’s interrogation period concluded, she remained in Kishon Detention Center for nine additional days, which Israeli authorities claimed were necessary for the purpose of investigation.

On 29 September 2009, Israeli Military Commander Ilan Malka issued a six-month administrative detention order against Hana on the premise that she posed a threat to the “security of the area”. The order was set to expire on 28 March 2010. At the judicial review of the order, which took place on 5 October 2009 at the Court of Administrative Detainees in Ofer Military Base, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, military judge Ilan Nun confirmed the order for the entire six month period, but agreed to count the two weeks Hana had already been detained towards her detention period. In his decision, Nun alleged that, based on the “secret information” made available to him by the military prosecution, Hana was intending to carry out a “terrorist attack”. The judge further claimed that Hana had already undertaken initial steps in preparation for the attack, though he provided no proof to support this allegation.

Addameer contends that the judge’s decision raised serious questions and fair trial issues. Seventeen days of investigation by the Israeli Security Agency, including eight days of consecutive interrogation did not prove the suspicions against Hana and no evidence of the alleged “intention” was brought before the court. Moreover, at no point did the court establish Hana’s affiliation with a Palestinian political party or armed group, nor did it establish whether Hana planned to carry out the alleged attack by herself or in partnership with anyone else. Additionally, the nature of a possible partnership was never investigated. Importantly, all suspicions directed towards Hana remained vague and general, leaving her without any legitimate means to defend herself. Although administrative detention orders issued by the Israeli military commander are the subject of review and further appeal by a military court, neither lawyers nor detainees are permitted to see the “secret information” used as a basis for the detention orders, rendering any possible legal defense meaningless.

Hana’s attorneys filed an appeal against her administrative detention order, but the appeal was refused and Hana’s order remained set until 13 March 2010. This was subsequently extended for six months. On 12 September 2010, Hana’s administrative detention order was extended for an additional six month period. In March 2011, her order was again renewed, and in July 2011 it was renewed for a fourth time, due to expire on 9 November 2011.

Hana was released from prison on 18 October 2011, as part of the prisoner exchange deal concluded by the Israeli government and Hamas, whereby 1,027 Palestinian political prisoners were released in exchange for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Though her administrative detention order at the time was set to expire less than a month later, it remains unclear whether or not her order would have been renewed an additional time.

Detention conditions

Prior to her transfer to HaSharon Prison, Hana spent a total of 17 days in Kishon Detention Center, where she was not once given a change of clean clothes. Hana continued to be detained in interrogation-like conditions for three days after her administrative detention order was issued. On 1 October 2009, she was eventually transferred to Section 2 of HaSharon Prison, where, allegedly due to overcrowding in the section where Palestinian female prisoners are detained, she was placed in the same section as Israeli females detained for criminal offenses. This placement was a direct violation of Israeli Prison Service Regulations, which stipulate that administrative detainees are to be held separately from all other detainees and prisoners, including those who have been convicted of a crime. Moreover, while detained in the same sections as Israeli criminal offenders, Palestinian female prisoners are almost always discriminated against, enjoy fewer recreation hours and are often subjected to humiliation and abusive language from Israeli prisoners, who threaten them of physical attack. As a result, Palestinian women live in constant fear and often experience insomnia, and other psychological problems for the entire time they are detained in the same sections with Israeli women.

Addameer attorney Safa Abdo filed a complaint with the HaSharon Prison administration regarding Hana’s detention conditions. On 25 October 2009, after being held for 25 days among Israeli criminal offenders, Hana was finally moved to Section 12 of HaSharon Prison with the other Palestinian female prisoners and detainees.

Hana remained held in Section 12 of HaSharon Prison, one of Israel’s largest facilities, together with approximately 18 other Palestinian female prisoners before being released. The building which now constitutes the prison complex served as the headquarters of the British Mounted Police during the British Mandate in Palestine and, as such, was never designed for the incarceration of women. As a result, Hana suffered from the harsh detention conditions and complained of overcrowding, humidity, lack of natural sunlight and adequate ventilation, as well as poor hygiene standards.

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Administrative detention is a procedure that allows the Israeli military to hold detainees indefinitely on secret evidence without charging them or allowing them to stand trial. In the occupied Palestinian West Bank, the Israeli army is authorized to issue administrative detention orders against Palestinian civilians on the basis of Military Order 1651. This order empowers military commanders to detain an individual for up to six month renewable periods if they have “reasonable grounds to presume that the security of the area or public security require the detention.” On or just before the expiry date, the detention order is frequently renewed. This process can be continued indefinitely.

For more information about administrative detention and Addameer’s Campaign to Stop Administrative Detention please visit our website: www.addameer.org.

Read Addameer’s report on administrative detention:
Administrative Detention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory: A Legal Analysis Report, July 2010 update

Read Addameer’s report on detention conditions for female prisoners: “In Need of Protection”: Palestinian Female Prisoners in Israeli Detention, November 2008

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ACT NOW!

Here is how you can help Hana Shalabi:

*Write to the Israeli government, military and legal authorities and demand that Hana Shalabi be released immediately.

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. Avi Mizrahi
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 Hana Shalabi and to put an end to such an unjust, arbitrary and cruel system of incarceration without trial.

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