Israel Sends Maher al-Akhras to Death

Ref: 115/2020, 02 November 2020

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights follows with grave concern the deteriorating health condition of Maher al-Akhras, as he enters the 99th consecutive day of his open hunger strike in protest to his administrative detention by the Israeli occupation authorities without charge or trial.

PCHR holds the Israeli occupation fully responsible for al-Akhras’ life and stresses that his continued detention is effectively a death sentence, with the collaboration of the Supreme Court of Israel which has, to date, refused four petitions for his release.

PCHR reiterates that al-Akhras was forced to practice his right to go on hunger strike in rejection to the injustice practiced against him, and because he was stripped of all means to access justice within the Israeli authorities, except his own flesh to receive his right to a free and fair trial. Hence, PCHR expresses its concern for the suspicious international silence over al-Akhras’ continued detention, particularly by the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Al-Akhras was arrested on 27 July 2020, and immediately decided to go on an open hunger strike in objection to his administrative detention. He was transferred to Kaplan Medical Center in Israel on 23 September 2020, due to his critically deteriorating health as he began to lose consciousness and develop serious complications. The Israeli occupation offered him demeaning compromises, but he refused them all maintaining his position, “Either freedom or martyrdom.” In the past few days, al-Akhras’ condition got more complicated as he suffers seizures, and severe aches across his body, blurry vision and a severe headache.

On 27 October 2020, the Supreme Court of Israel refused al-Akhras’ lawyer’s latest petition for his release and transfer for treatment at a Palestinian hospital in the West Bank. The Court had previously refused petitions for al-Akhras’ release, the first of which was on 23 September 2020, the second was on 01 October 2020, and they were both denied for trivial reasons. On 12 October 2020, the Court refused the petition, adding conditions for the non-renewal of al-Akhras’ administrative detention. This was a crucially serious precedent, which set the automatic renewal of administrative decisions as the norm, as the Court decision stated that: “We suggested that the current administrative detention order be effective from 27 July 2020 – 26 November 2020 without renewal, provided that the petitioner immediately ends his hunger strike, unless new information on the expected danger of the petitioner is presented, or if changes occur in a manner that intensifies the threat of releasing the petitioner.”

Administrative detention is practiced by the Israeli occupation authorities under Article (273) of Military Order No. 1651. According to the Military Order, which is based on the 1945 British Mandate-era Emergency Regulations, occupation authorities may arrest whoever they want without charge or trial. The detention is based on information provided by an Israeli intelligence officer in the area, and it is not disclosed in the court, nor is it given to the detainee or their lawyer under pretext that is it confidential. The Israeli Military Judge is the only person who can view this information. Consequently, the defendant is effectively denied their right to defense, since there is no charge to refute, and the lawyer cannot provide counter arguments.

PCHR notes here that it has sent an urgent appeal to Mr. Michael Lynk, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967; and Prof. Nils Melzer, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; and Mr. José Guevara Bermúdez, Vice-Chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, to demand their immediate and urgent intervention for al-Akhras’ release.

PCHR expresses its grave concern over the continued administrative detention of al-Akhras and the suspicious international silence and holds Israel fully responsible for his life and safety. PCHR reiterates that the Israeli occupation’s policy and systematic disregard for international law shall only reap shame, whether with its continued adoption of the administrative detention policy or for al-Akhras’ particular case, especially under wide international condemnation for his continued detention by the majority of United Nations and international organizations.

PCHR condemns the Israeli authorities’ continued detention of al-Akhras despite his frail health and recalls its call upon the international community and the free people of the world and all UN human rights bodies and mechanisms to work for the immediate release of Palestinian detainee, Maher al-Akhras.

Lastly, PCHR calls upon the international community to pressure Israel to end the use of administrative detention and abolish it from its legislations and to release all administrative detainees in Israeli prisons.

To Prison, Again, for Protesting Against Israel’s Colonial Rule

Israeli activist Jonathan Pollack pens a powerful Op-Ed in Haaretz on his arrest, putting into context his act of solidarity with Palestinians who face altogether different circumstances than his own.

The Ofer military prison near the West Bank city of Ramallah, October 2, 2009.
The Ofer military prison near the West Bank city of Ramallah, October 2, 2009. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Jonathan Pollak, Haaretz, Jan 07, 2020

I am currently detained in an Israeli jail, the result of refusing to attend or cooperate with criminal charges laid against me and two others for joining Palestinian protests in the West Bank against Israel’s colonial rule. Because I am an Israeli citizen, the proceedings in the case are held in an Israeli court in Jerusalem and not at the military court, where Palestinians are tried.

>> Police arrest left-wing activist Jonathan Pollak in Haaretz building

It has been almost nine years since the last time I was incarcerated for more than a day or two. Much has changed since. Politically, reality does not even resemble that of a decade ago, and none of the changes were for the better.

Politically, the world seems to have lost much of its interest in the Palestinian struggle for liberation, placing Israel at one of the historical peaks of its political strength. I am in no position to discuss the profound changes within Israeli society and how even farther to the right it has drifted. Israeli liberals are much better suited for such a task, because they hold their country dear and feel a sense of belonging that I cannot feel and do not want to feel.


Jonathan Pollak at Hermon Prison in 2011. (Yaron Kaminsky)

Personally, I am older, more tired and, mostly, not as healthy as I was. Of course, the price I have paid for my part in the struggle is a fraction of that paid by Palestinian comrades, but I cannot deny its subjective weight on me: from physical injuries, some irreversible, through sporadic despair, anxiety and sense of helplessness, to the encumbering sensation of loss and the presence of death – and the grip all these have on my day-to-day life. And yet, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Right now, just as it was back then, sitting in prison is better than any other alternative available to me.

The legal fallacies that riddle the case against us are of little significance. While it is fair to assume that had I agreed to cooperate, the trial would have ended up with an acquittal, my refusal to recognize the court’s legitimacy is based on two main grounds.

The first is that my Palestinian comrades do not enjoy the luxury of being tried in the relatively comfortable conditions of the Israeli courts. Rather, they are tried as subjects in the parody of a legal system that are Israel’s military courts. Unlike me, Palestinians do not have the option of refusing to cooperate with their captors, since the vast majority of them are tried while remanded into custody for the duration of their proceedings.

Additionally, the punishment Palestinians are faced with is significantly harsher than that specified in Israeli law. Thus, in this regard as well, despite refusing to recognize the court’s legitimacy, the price I am likely to pay is significantly lower than that paid by my comrades.

The second, more fundamental ground to refuse to cooperate is that all Israeli courts, military or otherwise, lack any legitimacy to preside over matters of resisting Israeli colonial rule, which employs a hybrid regime, ranging between a distorted and racially discriminatory democracy in its sovereign territory and a flat-out military dictatorship in the occupied territories.

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October 27, 2019
DREAMING OF FREEDOM Update



Palestinian Youth Under Siege and Occupation
with Yousef Aljamal, Gaza Writer and Activist

Sunday, October 27, 2019
2-4 pm
Christ Presbyterian Church,
944 E Gorham St, Madison, WI

Meet Yousef Aljamal, a young writer who grew up in a refugee camp in Gaza and lived through the three devastating Israeli military assaults between 2008 and 2014. He will share his experiences and insights about the lives of youth there and elsewhere in Palestine, including tens of thousands imprisoned by Israel’s military regime in the West Bank since 1967.

A contributor to the anthology Gaza Writes Back: Short Stories from Young Writers in Gaza Palestine, Aljamal has recently translated into English the book Dreaming of Freedom: Palestinian Child Prisoners Speak.

Both books will be available for purchase at the event. Yousef’s talk will be preceded by brief remarks from Rep. Mark Pocan.

Refreshments including baklawa will be served, and Fair Trade Palestinian olive oil, olive oil soap and crafts will be sold. This event is free and open to the public, but donations will be gratefully accepted to fund another clean water project for Gaza kids.

Local Sponsors: Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, Jewish Voice for Peace-Madison, UW-Madison Students for Justice in Palestine, and Playgrounds for Palestine-Madison. This is a national tour sponsored by Just World Educational.


Welcomed by WORT Radio. More information here and on Facebook. Listen to Yousef on WORT’s A Public Affair with host Allen Ruff:


Yousef Aljamal to speak on Gaza, detention of Palestinian kids, in USA, October

Just World Admin Anti-imperialism, Blog, Gaza, JWE news, Palestine

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Act now to free Heba Al-Labadi

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, Oct 28, 2019

Please take a moment to sign our latest petition demanding progressive U.S. presidential candidates speak out for Heba Al-Labadi, a 24-year-old Palestinian with Jordanian citizenship now hospitalized on her 35th day of an open hunger strike against her “administrative detention,” imprisonment by Israel without charge or trial.

Then comment on the petition – your statements will go to each of their Congressional offices and presidential campaigns! – and ask your friends to join you through the buttons on the site or links from Samidoun’s Facebook page and Twitter account.

Jordan-Israel Ties Strained by Detentions

“We hold the Israeli government responsible for the lives of our citizens whose health conditions have severely deteriorated in illegal arbitrary detention,” Mr. Safadi, the Jordanian foreign minister, wrote. “We will take all necessary legal & diplomatic measures to ensure their safe return home. Administrative detention is illegal.”


Israeli activists in a Monday protest over the arrest of Heba al-Labadi, a Jordanian citizen, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank more than two months ago. She has not been charged with a crime. (Ahmad Gharabli/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)

Isabel Kershner, New York Times, Oct. 30, 2019

JERUSALEM — Jordan has recalled its ambassador to Israel for consultations and detained an Israeli citizen who it says crossed the border illegally amid a sharpening dispute over Israel’s weekslong detention of two Jordanian citizens on suspicion of vague security violations.

The spike in tensions comes days after the 25th anniversary of the signing of the 1994 Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty, which neither side commemorated officially, an indication of the testy state of diplomatic relations between Israel and its Arab neighbor to the east.

Jordan’s foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, announced on Twitter late Tuesday that the ambassador, who left for Jordan on Wednesday, was being recalled for consultations “as a first step” after the Israeli government had refused to heed what he called Jordan’s legitimate demands for releasing its two citizens, Hiba Labadi and Abdul Rahman Miri.

Ms. Labadi was detained on Aug. 20 and Mr. Miri on Sept. 12 at the border crossing between Jordan and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, according to a lawyer representing them, and are being held in administrative detention without charges.

Israel’s Shin Bet security service said in a statement that they had been detained for investigation “in light of suspicion of their involvement in severe security violations.”

The lawyer, Raslan Mahajna, said in an interview on Wednesday that Ms. Labadi was suspected of belonging to Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant organization, of having met Hezbollah contacts in Lebanon and of planning to recruit people.

He said she had denied all the allegations and that no proof had been presented after 32 days of what he described as “harsh and intensive” interrogations, which included being tied to a chair for long periods.

Mr. Mahajna said her administrative detention order was based on secret evidence.

Ms. Labadi, 32, has been on a hunger strike for the past month, only taking water, and has been treated in the hospital, according to Mr. Mahajna. He said Mr. Miri, 27, who is suspected of membership in the political wing of Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic militant group, had suffered in the past from cancer.

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Israel Is Accused of Torturing a Prisoner Until His Ribs Were Broken

Now Palestinians Are Demanding Answers

“There’s no excuse for it. This is a war crime at the end of the day.”


An Israeli prison service vehicle leaves the court house in Petah Tikva, Israel, Sunday, July 6, 2014. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Alex Kane, Vice, October 8, 2019

Samir Arbeed was arrested by Israeli forces outside his workplace in the West Bank on September 25 in connection with a bomb attack that killed a 17-year-old Israeli girl. Two days later, the 44-year-old Palestinian and member of the militant Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine was rushed to the emergency room, unconscious. Six of his ribs were broken and his kidney had gone into failure.

What happened between his arrest and hospitalization is now a topic of fierce interest for Palestinians, who argue that Arbeed’s injuries are physical proof of a dark reality they’ve long known to be true: Israel’s security forces routinely torture and abuse Palestinian prisoners with impunity.

“This isn’t about two or three interrogators who have gone insane. It’s not about rotten apples. This is a whole system,” said Rachel Stroumsa, head of the Public Committee Against Torture, an independent rights watchdog based in Tel Aviv. “What we see here with Samir Arbeed is unusual in its consequences but not unusual in any other sense.”


“This isn’t about two or three interrogators who have gone insane. It’s not about rotten apples. This is a whole system.”


Since 2001, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel has filed over 1,200 torture complaints on behalf of Palestinians to the Israeli Attorney General. The vast majority of cases have never seen the light of day, let alone result in any charges.

But Arbeed’s predicament is unique, because he ended up in the hospital with severe injuries. The Shin Bet did not respond to requests from VICE News for comment, and only told Israeli news outlets that a Shin Bet agent reported Arbeed “did not feel well” and that he was then “transferred to the hospital for medical examinations and treatment.”

“He was tortured severely,” said Sahar Francis, the director of Addameer, a Palestinian prisoner support group providing Arbeed with legal representation. “There’s no excuse for it. This is a war crime at the end of the day.”

Now, Palestinian activists and human rights watchdogs are calling for greater scrutiny of the Shin Bet’s shadowy practices, and criminal charges for the interrogators and higher-ups who approve of torture.

“Israel’s authorities must end their systematic use of torture and ensure that those responsible for the torture of Samir Arbeed, including those with command and other superior responsibility, are held to account,” said Saleh Higazi, Amnesty International’s Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director, in a statement.


ISRAELI POLICE ARREST A MAN DURING A PROTEST OUTSIDE A HOSPITAL IN JERUSALEM WHERE PALESTINIAN SUSPECT IS BEING TREATED, TUESDAY, OCT. 1, 2019. SAMIR ARBEED, A PALESTINIAN SUSPECT IN A DEADLY WEST BANK BOMBING WAS IN SEVERE CONDITION AT AN ISRAELI HOSPITAL, AS ISRAELI MEDIA REPORTED AN INVESTIGATION WAS OPENED INTO POSSIBLE WRONGDOING BY ISRAELI SECURITY OFFICERS DURING INTERROGATION. (AP PHOTO/MAHMOUD ILLEAN)

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The Torture of Palestinian Detainee Samer al-Arabid


Palestinian Center for Human Rights, October 8, 2019

On 8 October 2019, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) sent an urgent appeal to the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Mr. Michael Lynk, and UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Mr. Nils Melzer, concerning the situation of Palestinian Detainee Samer al-Arabid, a 44 year old Palestinian, who was hospitalized after undergoing interrogation with Israeli internal security service (Shin Bet).

In its letter, PCHR explained that the use of torture by the Shin Bet to investigate Palestinian prisoners  is still permissible as the Israeli High Court in 1999 ruled that torture can be used  in “ticking time-bomb” circumstances and gave its tacit approval to the use of the defense of necessity contained in section 34(11) of the Penal Law (1977). PCHR stressed that the extra-ordinary measures used by the interrogators which led to the deterioration of Samer’ medical condition, are in violation of Israel’s obligations under Article 2(2) of the Convention against Torture, which provides that the prohibition of torture is absolute and non-derogable and that no exceptional circumstances whatsoever may be invoked to justify acts of torture. Moreover, it constitutes a grave breach of Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and Article 11 of the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions, and amounts to a war crime under Article 85 of the Protocol.

PCHR expressed its concern that resuming Samer al-Arabid’s interrogation can lead to a further deterioration in his health and endanger his life. Israel has many precedents proving the security officers involvement in torture against dozens of prisoners, the latest of which was the recent death of Nassar Majed Taqatah (31), from Bethlehem, during his interrogation, only one month after his arrest.

PCHR called on the Special Rapporteurs to publicly condemn Israel’s use of extra-ordinary measures, which amount to torture, against Palestinian prisoners and detainees, including Samer al-Arabid, and to exert pressure to prevent Israel from employing these extra-ordinary measures again if his condition improves and his interrogation continues.

To read PCHR’s urgent appeal letter, click here.