Israeli repression wave targets activists
In recent months, since the public push for The Goldstone Report, Israeli
authorities have intensified their repression of activists on both sides of
the segregation wall. Though Israel tries Palestinians and Israelis under
separate legal systems, with the former being prosecuted in a military
court and the later in domestic, civil courts, both have seen an escalation
in detentions. The recent cases include Mohammad Srour, Mohammad
Othman, and Abdullah Abu Rahma, all activists from the Occupied West
Bank. The most recent arrest is of Jamal Juma’, an international known
human rights activist and the coordinator of the Stop the Wall Campaign,
a grassroots network of popular committees fighting Israel’s segregation
LIA TARACHANSKY, PRODUCER, TRNN: This is Lia Tarachansky with The Real News in Jerusalem, where behind me tonight 26 Israelis and one international are going to be released after spending the night in jail. They were arrested yesterday in Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem for protesting against the settlers’ takeover of Palestinian homes. Last Friday, 24 activists were arrested in the same place and were released on condition that they will not return to Sheikh Jarrah.
PROTESTER (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): This is not the country of the police. It could be a country of democracy and justice. And I really hope that soon, with your help, my friends, I will return to my home, and there will be an East Jerusalem, the capital of Palestine. Soon, I really hope.
YUVAL DRIER-SHILO, HADASH PARTY: What’s interesting about the repression is that it seemed very planned. Last week, we had 24 arresteds. This week we had 27. And we hear the police saying if there are are any more room for arresteds before arresting any others. These demonstrations every Friday started two month ago, when some human rights activists in Jerusalem decided to come to [inaudible] every Friday to demonstrate there against the settlement and against the violence.
TARACHANSKY: A wave of Israeli repression against activists has been on the rise since the push by Palestinian civil society for the Goldstone Report. Grassroots organizations, such as those fighting the annexation of their lands by Israel’s segregation wall in Ni’lin and Bil’in, have witnessed this first hand. Night raids, kidnappings, and arrests have led to the detention of prominent human-rights workers in recent months. According to Addameer, an organization fighting for prisoners rights, Israel currently holds in detention 7,122 Palestinian political prisoners. According to the organization’s latest report, since its occupation of the West Bank in 1967, Israel set up a separate legal system for Palestinians. For example, Palestinians can be interrogated for 8 days before being brought to a judge, while Israelis only 24 hours. Palestinians can be held for up to 90 days, or 3 months, without access to a lawyer, while Israelis 21 days. And a judge can approve to extend detention for Israelis for 90 days, while for Palestinians it is 6 months. In fact, while the Israeli activists were waiting for their friends’ release from the Jerusalem court, across the street in an Israeli jail called the Russian Compound, Jamal Juma, the coordinator of the Stop the Wall Campaign, was being held without charge and without the right to see a lawyer. Juma is the latest and most high-profile targeted arrest in the West Bank, and his detention is expected to bring about strong international pressure. At the end of October, The Real News spoke to Juma at the Alternative Information Center’s conference on organized resistance in the occupied territories.
October 26, 2009
SERGIO YAHNI, DIRECTOR, ALTERNATIVE INFORMATION CENTER: You spoke about steadfastness, struggle. Can you explain what is happening right now on the street?
JAMAL JUMA, COORDINATOR, STOP THE WALL CAMPAIGN: We are talking about the legitimate right of the Palestinian people to resist this and to say no to this occupation. So that’s what we are calling it: steadfastness. Say no to the occupation. Stand up and fight it. Resist it. What’s going now on the ground is, like, these popular committees that started to go into demonstrations, marching to the wall, marching to the areas, their land that they can’t reach because of the settlements, because of the checkpoint, and trying to raise their voice loud; trying to run, also, international campaign to take the voice of the Palestinian people outside. So Palestinians organizing themselves in the villages, in the cities, in, like, what looks like [inaudible] popular movement to say no to the occupation. They didn’t come from nowhere. The Palestinian people have been practice this kind of resistance in the first intifada [inaudible] the Palestinian people have been going to the streets all over, from Rafah to Jenin, against the occupation, with their bodies, with her hands, without any weapons.
TARACHANSKY: Do you foresee that there will be a day when there will be political will for Israel to actually dismantle the settlements?
JUMA: We are optimistic. As a people, in general we are optimistic, in spite of all the darkness that we are now seeing from the political [inaudible] from the political situation. So we believe strongly that this occupation will end. And this isï¿½apartheid systems and regimes and racism will be finished also. There is no occupation can continue and last forever, especially if the peoples don’t accept it. So we are sure that one day, and it will be soon, that these settlements will disappear like the French settlements disappeared from Algeria.
TARACHANSKY: Prominent human-rights activists have been arrested at an increasing rate in recent months. For example, Mohammad Srour was stopped at the Jordanian border with Israel while trying to return from Geneva. There he testified in front of the Goldstone Commission for witnessing the shooting of two Ni’lin residents by Israeli forces at a solidarity demonstration during the war in Gaza. Other cases include the highly publicized arrest of Mohammad Othman, who was also detained while trying to return to the West Bank. Human-rights groups allege his arrest is connected to his advocacy for the boycott movement, as he was returning from a tour in Norway where he spoke about the campaign. After two months of interrogations and alleged torture, Israeli forces could not find evidence for his arrest, and therefore the court ruled to keep him jailed under a military detention. Another prominent activist, Abdullah Abu Rahma, is a leading figure in the nonviolent struggle against the wall in Bil’in. He was kidnapped from his home by masked Israeli soldiers in the middle of the night a week before Jamal Juma was jailed. The Real News spoke to Magda Mughrabi of Addameer, the Prisoners’ Support and Human Rights Association, based in Ramallah.
MAGDA MUGHRABI, ADVOCACY COORDINATOR, ADDAMEER: According to the Israeli military orders that are applied to the occupied Palestinian territory, pretty much every aspect of Palestinian political, social, or civil life is actually criminalized.
TARACHANSKY: So what do you know about what happened to Jamal Juma?
MUGHRABI: Jamal Juma was arrested on 18 December, I believe, after he was summoned for interrogation to Kalandia Military Base. Then, after a few hours of interrogation, he was taken back to his home, family home, where the Israeli authorities searched his house and confiscated his personal files, his laptop computer, and his cell phone. Although he is a Jerusalem resident and he should be detained under Israeli law, his detention is now determined by the Israeli military orders, and the law that applies to his detention is the Israeli military orders, which means that he can be held without any charges for up to 90 days. He can be barred from access to his attorney for 90 days as well. He is currently barred from access to his attorney.
TARACHANSKY: Back in Jerusalem, while Israeli activists were released one by one, the fate of Jamal Juma remains unknown.