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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.”


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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.

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26 Groups Supporting McCollum Legislation for Palestinian Children

Wisconsin Muslim Journal, May 17, 2019

Israel has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world that systematically prosecutes an estimated 500 to 700 children each year in military courts lacking fundamental fair trial rights. Children within the Israeli military system commonly report physical and verbal abuse from the moment of their arrest, and coercion and threats during interrogations.
— No Way To Treat A Child

Congresswoman Betty McCollum (DFL-Minn.) today announced support from national and international religious and human rights organizations in support of H.R. 2407, the Promoting Human Rights for Palestinian Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act, introduced May 1, 2019.

Congresswoman McCollum released the following statement:
“Peace can only be achieved by respecting human rights, especially the rights of children,” Congresswoman McCollum said. “These organizations are committed to human rights and are working to support another generation of Palestinian children facing cruel and dehumanizing detention at the hands of Mr. Netanyahu’s military. This strong show of support is part of a growing consensus that the Palestinian people deserve justice, equality, human rights, and the right to self-determination. It is also a signal that none of the billions of taxpayer dollars in American foreign aid to Israel should be spent on inhumanely locking up Palestinian children in Israeli military detention facilities.”

The following is a list of organizations in support of H.R. 2407:
Adalah Justice Project
American Friends Service Committee
American Muslims for Palestine
Amnesty International USA
Arab American Institute
Center for Constitutional Rights
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Churches for Middle East Peace
Defense for Children International – Palestine
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA)
Indiana Center for Middle East Peace
Institute for Policy Studies, New Internationalism Project
Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)
Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office
Palestine Legal
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Project South
Quaker Palestine Israel Network
The Episcopal Church
Tree of Life Educational Fund
United Church of Christ
United Methodist General Board of Church and Society
United Methodists for Kairos Response (UMKR)
US Campaign for Palestinian Rights

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Israeli Authorities Arrest Patient’s Husband While Returning to Gaza Strip

Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Ref: 64/2019, April 24, 2019

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns that the Israeli authorities stationed at Beit Hanoun “Erez” Crossing arrested a patient’s companion, from the Gaza Strip, while returning to the Gaza Strip.

According to PCHR’s investigations, at approximately 12:00 on Tuesday, 23 April 2019, the Israeli authorities arrested Karam Mustafa Mohammed Tantawi (51), from al-Qal’a buildings, south of Khan Younis. Karam, who was accompanying his wife Safa’ ‘Abed al-Majeed Tantawi (47), a cancer patient, was arrested while returning to the Gaza Strip after his wife received treatment at al-Makassed Hospital in Jerusalem.

Safa’ said to PCHR’s fieldworker that on 01 April 2019, she left the Gaza Strip along with her husband to al-Makassed Hospital in Jerusalem through Beit Hanoun “Erez” Crossing. She added that she received treatment for 20 days and while she was returning to the Gaza Strip along with her husband, the Israeli authorities arrested him. She clarified that after around 15 minutes, Israeli soldiers ordered her to leave alone to the Gaza Strip, but she refused and waited until 18:00. After that, the Palestinian Civil Liaison informed her that she should return to the Gaza Strip because her husband was arrested.

It should be noted that the PCHR’s lawyer, in his capacity as the legal guardian for al-Tantawi, was prevented today from visiting him in al- Majdal Prison. The court extended his arrest until next Tuesday, 30 April 2019.

PCHR stresses that the ongoing Israeli forces policy of arresting patients and their companions is considered as violation of the international human rights law and the international humanitarian law. It also constitutes a form of inhuman and degrading punishment, which coincides with the policy of tightening the illegal closure imposed on the Gaza Strip. This aggravates the patients’ suffering as their treatment is not available in the Gaza Strip hospitals.

In light of the above, PCHR:

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Scars of Freedom

Addameer, 16 October 2018

“Scars of Freedom” describes the Palestinian experience of arrest, interrogation, and life in captivity that carries great political, economic, and social impact.

From the beginning of the occupation to the present day the arrest and incarceration of Palestinians has been used continuously to suppress their aspirations for independence and freedom, to oppress Palestinian prisoners, and to inflict collective punishment on their families.

Addameer has also published I’ve Been There: A Study of Torture and Inhumane Treatment in Al-Moscabiyah Interrogation Center.

The Addameer 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. Addameer is Arabic for conscience.