The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project

The Shabak: “We are above the Law”

Life under occupation

Yael Barda, Occupation Magazine, July 7 2005

Yesterday I had a fascinating experience. Plucking my eyes out and placing them in the heart of the occupation.

Abdullah Abu Rahma, coordinator of the public struggle against the Seperation Fence in the village of Bili’in, was summoned to the Shabak (the Israeli General Security Services, also known as Shin Bet) for the first time in his life.

The manner of the summons was two jeeps filled with ten soldiers that arrived at his home at three in the morning to tell him he is invited to the Shabak. Abdullah received a small slip of paper, torn from a notepad, on which it was written in a blue ball-point pen “Abdullah Muhamad Mahmud Abu Rahma, I.D. number xxxxxxx , You are summoned to appear on Wednesday, July 6th to [Camp] Ofer [a prison] at noon to see Captain Rizek.” Loosely translated – a summons by the GSS, to the installation at Camp Ofer (the one located behind the court and the military prosecutors.)

Abdullah was arrested at one of the demonstrations in the village of Bili’in. In the deliberations on his arrest the military judge found that a border police officer gave false testimony regarding the accusations against him, after seeing a video of the protest. Attorneys Tamar Peleg and Gabi Lasky represented him in those proceedings.

I accompanied him to the installation at Camp Ofer. Outside for hours, a few dozen Palestinians were waiting to enter to be investigated. Most of them are prevented security-wise from having magnetic cards. [A personal ID card that allows one to enter Israel and work. – editor`s remark]

At one-thirty I decided to demand that they not disrespect Abdullah’s time, who was losing a day’s work. There was wonderment at the fact of my presence and it was only overcome when I asked to enter. The Shin Gimel [a guard at the entrance] asked a Shin Bet (Shabak) man that came out of the building, who looked at me and then went to bring a second man. The third man, who looked older and important, said that I could not enter. I told him that a summons to the Shabak – General Security Service is an official summons of the State of Israel and should not be on a paper scrap at three in the morning accompanied by two jeeps and ten soldiers arriving at the home of a political activist, the leader of a public struggle in his village. He continued to be taken aback, but they took Abdullah in immediately.

Inside they told Abdullah the following things (whoever wants to can see the statement that will be sent to the Attorney General at the end of the week and also the notice scrap. Even when you see it you don’t believe it.)

    “We are the Shabak.

    What we do is always legal, because we are the Muhabarat [Translator’s note: Secret Police in Arabic] and we are above the law.

    Your sharmuta [Translator’s note: slang for slut or whore] lawyer won’t help you. We can send soldiers to you at night whenever we want to.

    Because we are the Shabak. We do whatever we want to.”

The rest of the things that were said were related to the fence and the demonstrations against the fence.

Does this sound familiar to anyone?

The affront, intimidation and attempt to co-opt the local political leadership neutralize any chance we have to build a life here. The solidarity among political activists is more important than ever on all fronts. It is my honor to meet a man like Abdullah Abu Rahma from whom we can learn about true non-violence.

Yael Barda is a human rights lawyer and one of the founders of the Mahapach Movement. Translated from Hebrew by Yaffa Grinblatt.