Ittijah General Director Ameer Makhoul Arrested by Israeli Authorities
Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Condemn Arrest as Arbitrary and Seek Immediate International Intervention
[Ramallah, 6 May 2010] This morning at 3:10 a.m., Israeli Security Agency (GSS) agents accompanied by Israeli police raided Ameer Makhoul’s family home in Haifa and arrested him. Mr. Makhoul is a human rights defender and serves as the general director of Ittijah – The Union of Arab Community-Based Associations and as the Chairman of the Public Committee for the Defense of Political Freedom in the framework of the High Follow-up Committee for the Arab Citizens of Israel.
The 16 ISA agents and police officers immediately separated Mr. Makhoul from his family, including wife Janan and daughters Hind, 17 and Huda, 12, and conducted an extensive search of the home.
According to Janan, the police confiscated items including documents, maps, the family’s four mobile phones, Ameer and Janan’s laptops, the hard drives from the girls’ two desktop computers, a camera and a small tape recorder containing un-transcribed oral histories Janan collects as part of her work. At one point during the police search, Janan says, one officer violently restrained her, twisting her arm and pushing her when she attempted to leave the home’s living room to observe the confiscations.
The security forces also refused to identify themselves and showed her a warrant authorizing Mr. Makhoul’s arrest only after she repeatedly insisted. The order was signed on 23 April 2010 and cited unsubstantiated “security” reasons as the grounds for Mr. Makhoul’s arrest.
Meanwhile, approximately 40 minutes after their arrival, a group of the security forces left with Mr. Makhoul in custody. At around the same time, the Israeli authorities raided the Ittijah office and confiscated documents and the hard drives from all of the organization’s computers.
A hearing in Mr. Makhoul’s case was held at the Petah Tikva interrogation center later this morning, and his detention was extended for six days. Reports also indicate that Mr. Makhoul has been banned from meeting with an attorney for at least two days.
This arrest comes shortly after Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai signed an administrative order prohibiting Mr. Makhoul from exiting the country for a two month period. In the order, which was signed on 21 April and is based on Article 6 of the 1948 emergency regulations, Yishai states, “I have reached the conviction that the exit of Ameer Makhoul from the country poses a serious threat to the security of the state, and therefore I issue this order to prevent him from leaving the country until the 21st of June, 2010”.
However, Mr. Makhoul’s case is only one example amidst a recent escalated campaign by Israeli authorities against Palestinian human rights defense and civil resistance. In addition to arbitrary arrest and detention, Israeli authorities have met Palestinian human rights activism in recent months with a variety of measures, including raids, deportations, travel bans, visa denials and media attacks against NGOs.
Moreover, Palestinian communities involved in grassroots human rights defense efforts are frequently levied with collective punishment measures in the form of curfews, sieges, and destruction of property, threats to individuals and the community as a whole, beatings, the use of lethal and “non-lethal” ammunition, including 40mm high velocity tear gas canisters, denial of permits, tear-gassing, army incursions and intentional injury and killings.
The undersigned organizations view these measures as deliberate violations of fundamental freedoms, particularly freedoms of movement, expression, association and non-violent assembly, and of the special protections owed under international law to human rights defenders.
Furthermore, as Mr. Makhoul’s arrest warrant and travel ban order are based on emergency regulations and “secret” information that is never disclosed to the defense, the undersigned consider them to be arbitrary political actions in violation of fundamental due process principles and human rights standards.
The undersigned organizations therefore strongly condemn Mr. Makhoul’s arrest and travel ban and call for his immediate release and the ban’s immediate suspension.
The undersigned also call upon the international community to take a strong stand in opposition to the Israeli campaign against human rights defenders, and to intervene with Israel for:
* Ameer Makhoul’s immediate release and the lifting of the travel ban against him;
* An end to the Israeli practice of arbitrary detention and deportation of human rights defenders; and,
* Full adherence to and respect for relevant international standards, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Declaration and EU guidelines on Human Rights Defenders, as applied to the Palestinian population in the OPT and Israel.
Sahar Francis, General Director, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association
Ingrid Jaradat Gassner, Director, BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency & Refugee Rights
Shawqi Issa, Director. Ensan Center for Democracy & Human Rights
Shawan Jabarin.General Director, Al-Haq
Rifat Kassis, Director, Defence for Children International – Palestine Section (DCI-Palestine)
Two More Arrests of Activists, One is a Teenager.
From the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee
Two residents of Ni’lin were arrested by the Israeli Army tonight, during a night-time raid on the village. Their arrest follows the two similar arrests last week, and may signal a renewed increase of anti-Wall arrests.
A large military force, including a plain-clothed snatch squad, raided the village of Ni’lin at 2:30am tonight, arresting Sa’id Amirah and 17 year old Mohanned Srour, two anti-Wall activists from the village. The arrest of the two and of two others last week, comes after a significant decrease in night raids and arrests recently.
The arrest of protesters in Ni’ilin is part of a broad campaign Israel is recently waging in an attempt to contain grassroots protest against the Occupation and quash the Palestinian popular struggle across the West Bank.
As part of this campaign more than 30 Wall-related arrests have been carried in the village of Ni’ilin alone since December 16th, 2009. Similar arrests waves, which accompany Israel’s diplomatic and media assault on the popular struggle, as well as an increase of violence on the ground, have also taken place in the villages of Bil’in, Budrus, Beit Duqqu, Jayyous and most recently, Nabi Saleh, a 500 people community were 26 people have been arrested in the past 5 months.
Israel began construction of the Wall on Ni’lin’s land in 2004, but stopped after an injunction order was issued by the Israeli High Court of Justice (IHCJ). Despite this previous order and the 2004 ruling from the International Court of Justice declaring the Wall illegal, construction of the Wall began again in May 2008.
Following the return of Israeli bulldozers to their lands, residents of Ni’lin have launched a grassroots campaign to protest the massive land theft, including demonstrations, strikes and direct actions.
The original route of the Wall, the one Israel began constructing in 2004, was ruled illegal by the IHCJ, as was a second, marginally less obtrusive proposed route. The most recent path, now completed, still cuts deep into Ni’lin’s land.
It was planned and built to include plans, not yet approved by the Army’s planning authority, for a cemetery and an industrial zone for the illegal settlement Modi’in Ilit.
Since the Wall was built to annex more land to the nearby settlements rather than in a militarily strategic manner, demonstrators have been able to repeatedly dismantle parts of the electronic fence and razor-wire surrounding it. Consequently, the army has erected a 15-25 feet tall concrete wall, in addition to the electronic fence.
The section of the Wall in Ni’lin is the only part of the route where a concrete wall has been erected in response to civilian, unarmed protest.
As a result of the construction of the Wall, Ni’lin has lost 3,920 dunams, roughly 30% of its remaining lands. Originally, Ni’lin consisted of 15,898 dunams (3928 acres). Post 1948, Ni’lin was left with 14,794 dunams (3656 acres). After the occupation of the West Bank in 1967, the illegal settlements and infrastructure of Modi’in Ilit, Mattityahu and Hashmonaim were built on village lands, and Ni’lin lost another 1,973 dunams. With the completion of the Wall, Ni’lin has a remaining 8911 dunams (2201 acres), 56% of its original size (see: http://www.poica.org/editor/case_studies/view.php?recordID=1366).
Ni’lin is effectively split into 2 parts (upper and lower) by Road 446, which was built directly through the village. According to the publicized plan of the Israeli government, a tunnel will be built under road 446 to connect the upper and lower parts of Ni’lin, allowing Israel to turn Road 446 into a segregated-setter only road. Subsequently, access for Palestinian vehicles to this road and to the main entrances of upper and lower Ni’lin will be closed. Additionally, since the tunnel will be the only entryway to Ni’lin, Israel will have effective control over the movement of Palestinian residents.
Israel commonly uses tear-gas projectiles, rubber-coated bullets and live ammunition against demonstrators.
Since May, 2008, five of Ni’lin’s residents were killed and one American solidarity activist was critically injured from Israeli fire during grassroots demonstrations in Ni’lin.
- 5 June 2009: Aqel Srour (36) was shot in the chest with 0.22 caliber live ammunition and pronounced dead upon arrival at a Ramallah hospital.
- 13 March 2009: Tristan Anderson (37), an American citizen, was shot in the head with a high velocity tear gas projectile. He is currently at Tel Hashomer hospital near Tel Aviv with uncertain prospects for his recovery.
- 28 December 2008: Mohammed Khawaje (20) was shot in the head with 5.56mm caliber live ammunition. He died in a Ramallah hospital 3 days later on 31 December 2008.
- 28 December 2008: Arafat Khawaje (22) was shot in the back with 5.56mm caliber live ammunition and pronounced dead upon arrival at a Ramallah hospital.
- 30 July 2008: Yousef Amira (17) was shot in the head with two rubber coated steel bullets. He died in a Ramallah hospital 5 days later on 4 August 2008.
- 29 July 2008: Ahmed Mousa (10) was shot in the forehead with 5.56mm caliber live ammunition and pronounced dead upon arrival at a Ramallah hospital.
In total, 20 people have been killed during demonstrations against the Wall.
Israeli armed forces have shot 40 demonstrators with live ammunition in Ni’lin. Of them, 11 were shot with 5.56mm caliber live ammunition and 29 were shot with 0.22” caliber live ammunition.
Since May 2008, 119 arrests have been made in relation to anti-Wall protest in the village, 32 of them since mid December 2009. The protesters arrested by the army constitute roughly 9% of the village’s male residents aged between 12 and 55. The arrests are part of a broad politically motivated Israeli campaign to suppress grassroots resistance to the Occupation.
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