Thursday, November 26, 2020

“’I need you in jail’” – One man’s administrative detention typical of continued Israeli abuses

By PM collaborators - October 13, 2016
Section: [Main News] [Features]

At the beginning of 2016, Abdullah* had a normal life. He was happily married and his wife was expecting a child. After finishing university in Jordan, he found a decent job as an accountant in a school. He drove a silver scooter to work, and drank coffee with his friends in Jerusalem on his days off.
How quickly things can change. On March 20, after two years of grappling with Israeli bureaucracy, Abdullah had finally been given permission to visit the al-Aqsa mosque.
And on that very same day, he was arrested near his home in East Jerusalem. The police had been expecting him. “’Abdullah give me your ID’” he recalls the policemen shouting. The policeman, says Abdullah, then “claimed he was hitting him” and Abdullah was promptly arrested.
Abdullah was taken to a cell in Jerusalem, though the policeman seemed apologetic: “’I had to do this. But tomorrow you’ll take your freedom,’” Abdullah was promised.
“But tomorrow I didn’t 'take’ anything,” Abdullah scoffed.
The arresting police officer claimed to have CCTV evidence of Abdullah assaulting him. But this first accusation was quickly forgotten.
Instead, Abdullah explains, the authorities justified his detention based on a number of Facebook posts. “They used Facebook posts from four years ago; the most recent was two years ago,” he told Palestine Monitor.
The Israeli military, which controls the Israeli administrative detention programme, claimed that these posts “incited violence.”
Certainly, many of Abdullah’s Facebook posts are political in nature. But Palestine Monitor could find no evidence that Abdullah promoted violence against Israeli soldiers or civilians. This is despite the requirement that administrative detention is only meant for those who “harm public security.”
Abdullah admits that he was arrested before, for stone throwing. But this was when he was just fifteen. As he says: “I was just a boy.”
And in fact, the Facebook post that Israel considered most incriminating was an apolitical message where Abdullah showed solidarity with a friend already in prison. “[My friend] has said some violent things,” conceded Abdullah. “But all I said was that I hoped he would 'be free soon.’”
Cases like this are typical. Israel claims that administrative detention is a “necessary security measure” and only done in special circumstances. But rights groups have noted that many Palestinians are detained “routinely” on dubious grounds.
In any event, as B’tselem reports, “detainees’ past actions” are inadmissible in administrative detention cases, making Abdullah’s old Facebook postings insufficient grounds to detain him.
For his part, Abdullah’s treatment was especially infuriating because of what he claimed was revealed to him by an Israeli agent, from its internal security agency Shin Bet, during his initial interrogation.
“He said that the Facebook posts were irrelevant. He just 'needed me in jail.’” The agent then goaded Abdullah, he claims. “He said to me: 'you can tell your lawyer what I told you. But he will think you’re a liar.’”
Soon, Abdullah found himself in the Nafha prison, in the southern Negev Desert. Prisoners were ten to a cell, and there were not enough fans. In the roasting Negev summer, this made the situation “very difficult.”
Transferring Palestinians from the occupied territories to deep prisons inside Israel is common practice, despite being illegal under international law.
To make matters worse, Abdullah’s wife had just given birth to their son, Nasir. But Abdullah had no idea if his family was safe: “I had to wait one month to see my wife and son.” Thereafter, visits were limited to a monthly visit of “forty minutes.”
Eventually, at the end of September, Abdullah was released and returned to his family. No explanation for his ordeal was given, though he was made to sign a form stating he would not celebrate his freedom with a party.
“I was happy” he says, showing a photo of Nasr. “He is named after my grandfather.”
Abdullah’s case is not unique. 692 Palestinians are were held in Israeli prisons as of April 2016, reports B’tselem.
And because administrative detention is not subject to civilian judicial oversight, Palestinians are often rearrested without explanation after being released.  
So despite his newfound liberty, Abdullah does not “feel good.” Israel can “put me in jail again for no reason,” he explains. Abdullah pauses, takes a sip from his coffee.  “I just want to live in peace with my family.”

* For security reason his name have been changed


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