Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2005 - Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories
|Publisher||International Federation for Human Rights|
|Publication Date||22 March 2006|
|Cite as||International Federation for Human Rights, Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2005 - Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, 22 March 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48747cc92f.html [accessed 30 January 2015]|
Situation in Israel
Judicial proceedings against Mr. Jonathan Ben Artzi16
On 21 April 2004, Mr. Jonathan Ben Artzi, a pacifist student, had been sentenced to two months in prison and a fine of 2,000 NIS (New Israeli Shekels – 350 euros) by the Jaffa Military Court for refusing to serve in the Israeli armed forces. This ruling stipulated that if he did not pay the fine, Mr. Ben Artzi would serve an additional sentence of two months imprisonment. Mr. Ben Artzi appealed against this verdict to the High Military Court of Appeal.
On 18 July 2005, whereas the hearing had been adjourned twice on 9 and 16 July 2004, the High Military Court of Appeal suggested to commute his sentence to "national service under military supervision". Mr. Ben Artzi, however, refused this proposition, arguing that such an alternative measure should in no way be linked to the army. On 1 January 2006, the High Military Court of Appeal handed down its verdict in the Tel Aviv headquarters of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF). Whilst acknowledging Mr. Ben Artzi's pacifist status, the court sentenced him to four months in prison, including two that were commutable to a 2,000 NIS fine, from 15 February 2006 onwards. Mr. Ben Artzi announced his intention to appeal against this judgement to the Israeli Supreme Court.
Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories
Arbitrary detention of Mr. Ziyad Muhammad Shehadeh Hmeidan17
On 23 May 2005, Mr. Ziyad Muhammad Shehadeh Hmeidan, a fieldworker for the Palestinian human rights NGO Al-Haq, was arrested at Qalandiya checkpoint, between Ramallah and Jerusalem, before being transferred to the Moscobiyya detention centre, in Jerusalem, on 27 May 2005.
On 30 May 2005, the judge of the prison Military Court ordered that Mr. Hmeidan be held for another 18 days for investigation. Moreover, Mr. Hmeidan was banned from meeting with his legal counsel for eight days on the basis of a military order dating back to 1970 (Military Order 378).
On 16 June 2005, Mr. Hmeidan appeared before the Moscobiya Military Court, as his detention period was due to expire that day. During the hearing, the Prosecutor referred to a "secret file" of classified information that the Israeli authorities would have about him. On this basis, the Deputy Military Commander of the West Bank then decided to issue an administrative detention order for an indefinitely renewable period of six months.
On 28 June 2005, the Moscobiya Military Court confirmed the six-month administrative detention order issued by the Deputy Military Commander. The judge stipulated that the time Mr. Hmeidan had already spent in detention was to be included in the detention period and that he was thus to be released on 23 November 2005.
On 3 July 2005, Mr. Hmeidan was transferred to the Ansar III (Ketziot) detention centre located in the Negev Desert, outside the Occupied Palestinian Territories, where detention conditions are known to be particularly poor.
On 10 September 2005, Mr. Hmeidan's appeal was dismissed by the Military Court, which argued that Mr. Hmeidan "[was] involved in activities posing a threat to the security of the region".
On 14 November 2005, Israeli authorities renewed his administrative detention order for another six months.
On 8 December 2005, the Military Court, which started to review this order on 27 November 2005, reduced Mr. Hmeidan's administrative detention term from six to four months, i.e. until 21 March 2006.
On 3 January 2006, the Military Court of the Ansar III detention centre dismissed Mr. Hmeidan's appeal, whereas his lawyers were denied access to the courtroom.
Mr. Hmeidan remained thus detained without official charges, while the evidence supporting his detention was not made available to his lawyer.
Continued obstacles to PCHR members' activities18
In 2005, members of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) continued to be subjected to recurrent obstacles to their activities – in particular caused by the general obstacles to the freedom of movement imposed by the Israeli authorities.
For instance, Mr. Khalil Shaheen, a PCHR member, was prevented from participating in a conference on health and human rights organised in Cairo (Egypt) by the World Health Organisation from 12 to 14 July 2005.
Mr. Raji Sourani, PCHR director, was precluded from attending eight international conferences, in particular an event held in the House of Europe in Paris on 22 September 2005, as well as a conference of the Euro-Med Non-Governmental Platform organised in Malaga (Spain) on 30 September 2005 by the European Union in the framework of the Barcelona process.
Lastly, Mr. Jaber Wishah, PCHR vice-president, was prevented from attending the 3rd Platform for Human Rights Defenders, organised in Dublin (Ireland) by Frontline, as the Rafah international crossing point had been closed down for two months.
Moreover, PCHR members were subjected to an important intimidation campaign, along with legal experts of the Hickman & Rose law firm, who gathered evidences against Mr. Doron Almong, a retired Israeli general against whom the London (United Kingdom) General Prosecutor issued an arrest warrant on 10 September 2005. PCHR members and Hickman & Rose lawyers notably received numerous threats via email.
Obstacles to Addameer members' freedom of movement19
On 23 June 2005, Mr. Khalil Abu Shammala, director of the Addameer association, a Palestinian human rights NGO based in Gaza, was denied access through the Rafah international crossing point by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), while on his way to Cairo to provide testimony before the United Nations Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories. Mr. Abu Shammala was detained for seven hours by the IDF before being released.
On 11 and 13 March 2005, Mr. Abu Shammala had already been prevented from crossing this checkpoint – the only one to leave the Gaza Strip – as he was attending international workshops.
Moreover, Mrs. Khaleda Jarrar, director of the Ramallah section of Addameer,20 was denied authorisation to attend the 3rd Platform for Human Rights Defenders in October 2005. Israeli authorities justified this decision with "security reasons".
Obstacles to Mr. Zahi Jaradat's freedom of movement21
On 15 September 2005, Mr. Zahi Jaradat, an Al-Haq volunteer worker, was prevented from travelling to Jordan, from where he was to flight to Tunis to participate in a training forum organised by the Arab Institute for Human Rights. When he arrived at the Allenby Bridge checkpoint, security forces informed him that his authorisation to leave the Occupied Territories had expired.
Continued restrictions and attacks against Israeli and international humanitarian workers and pacifists22
On 25 January 2005, Mr. Patrick O'Connor, a US and Irish binational and a member of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), was arrested by the Israeli secret police Shin Bet after planting olive tree seedlings in front of the "separation Wall" in the West Bank town of Biddu. Mr. O'Connor was accused of "illegal demonstration" and detained for a month at Maasiyahu prison in Ramle before he was expelled to the United States.
On 15 July 2005, Mr. Abdullah Abu Rahme, head of the Bil'in Popular Committee against the Wall, was arrested during a peaceful protest action against the "separation Wall" and detained at the Ofer military base. Mr. Abu Rahme was released on bail on 1 August 2005 upon condition that he shall no longer demonstrate near the Wall. However, charges of "assault of a police officer" were maintained. On 9 September 2005, Mr. Abu Rahme was arrested again by soldiers whilst giving an interview with an Egyptian TV channel. He appeared before the Military Court for "violating the curfew" on 13 September 2005. He was discharged and released that same day.
On 31 July 2005, Mrs. Shora Esamilan, a Swedish citizen and an ISM member, was arrested upon her arrival at Ben Gourion airport in Tel-Aviv, where the General Security Services (GSS) questioned her for ten hours about her relations with "certain Palestinians". Upon her refusal to answer, Mrs. Esamilan was immediately escorted back to the plane by five police officers who severely beat her.
On 14 December 2005, Mr. Qasem Qasem, president of the Palestinian Refugee League in Europe and a Finnish national, was denied entry into Israeli territory upon his arrival at Eilat airport. He was to attend a conference on the right of return in Nazareth on 16-18 December 2005.
[Refworld note: This report as posted on the FIDH website (www.fidh.org) was in pdf format with country chapters run together by region. Footnote numbers have been retained here, so do not necessarily begin at 1.]
16. See Annual Report 2004.
17. See Urgent Appeals ISR 001/0605/OBS 039, 039.1, 039.2 and 039.3.
18. See Annual Report 2004.
19. See Open Letter to the Israeli authorities, 22 July 2005.
20. The Addameer association split into two in 1996 in order to strengthen its efficiency in both Gaza and Ramallah cities, the Gaza region being too isolated.
21. See Annual Report 2004.