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Youth activist Hassan Karajah arrested by Israel

By Anna Germaine - January 31, 2013
Section: [Main News] [Behind Bars]
Tags: [prisoners] [Ofer prison] [raids] [interrogation] [Stop the Wall] [youth activist] [Hasan Karajah]

At 2:30 in the morning on January 23, 2013, twenty Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) soldiers burst into Hassan Karajah’s family home. 

First they stormed through, ransacking the home and breaking furniture as they shuffled through files, reports and books belonging to both Hassan and his brother, Muhannad Karajah, a lawyer. 

During the three hour raid, the soldiers took three personal laptops and five mobile phones in addition to many files and papers that they found and either destroyed or confiscated them. An Israeli Special Operations Unit burst into his eight year old sister’s room, even though his mother begged them not to wake or bother her. 

Next, they ordered the women into one room and the men into the other—and then demanded to strip search them, which family refused. Everyone was demanded to present identification. 

Hassan Karajah was identified, pulled aside, blindfolded and handcuffed. He was then taken to the Russian Compound in Jerusalem,  an Israeli interrogation and prison facility, though the soldiers refused to tell him or his family where he was being taken. The next day he was moved to the Jalameh Interrogation Center, near Jenin.

Hassan Karajah is the Youth Coordinator at Stop the Wall—an organization based in Ramallah, advocating against the construction of the Apartheid Wall and annexation of Palestinian land for Israeli settlements. In his day-to-day work, Hassan educates and mobilizes youth activists around mass campaigns, including the one last year about the Palestinian hunger strikers. Hassan is known throughout the West Bank and in Palestine Solidarity Activism communities around the world as a human rights defender, and a valued information source on the ground in Palestine. 

“When Hassan’s sister called me to tell me he had been arrested, I thought she was joking,” Sundous Mahsiri, Hassan’s fiancée told the Palestine Monitor. “Hassan’s work does not involve anything that should get him arrested—he focuses only on peaceful resistance.”

It is now one week since Hassan’s arrest. On Tuesday, January 29th he was at Ofer Prison, an Israeli prison between Ramallah and Jerusalem, for a court appearance to see whether or not his interrogation period will end—meaning his case can go to trial, or be renewed. If his interrogation period is renewed, he will continue to be interrogated without access to see any lawyer or family visits, and quite possibly be tortured during his interrogation. 

“We can’t get any information on Hassan without him being able to access his lawyer, Sundous says. “We have no idea about his interrogation conditions without him being able to talk to his lawyer.”

Under Israeli military law, Hassan can be interrogated for up to 90 days—and 60 days without a lawyer present. So far, Hassan has not been able to see either his lawyer or his family during his interrogation period. Hassan is not alone in this situation that he is suffering from. There are 5,000 prisoners in the Israeli prisons. You can imagine, 5,000 families that are suffering from this.

 We have no idea about his interrogation conditions without him being able to talk to his lawyer

Still, his mother and his fiancée waited outside Ofer in the rain and hoping, even if only for a minute, that they would get to see Hassan. But each time Hassan was brought into the courtroom to speak to the judge, his lawyer and family were ordered to go outside and wait in the rain. They were only ushered back in once Hassan is in the other room. 

“It was so sad how Hassan can be so near, but still we can’t see him,” Sundous said. 

Eventually, both Sundous and his mother leave, understanding that they won’t get to see Hassan today. 

On Thursday, January 31st, the Israeli military court confirmed that they have rejected the appeal to not renew his interrogation period. Once interrogation is over, Hassan will either be held in administrative detention or tried in the Israeli military courts. 

If Hassan is held in administrative detention—as is very common with political prisoners—he will be imprisoned without trial for up to three months—which is renewable indefinitely. If he is tried in the military courts, though he will technically receive a trial, he will most likely be convicted, as most trials are only three minutes long and have over a 99 percent conviction rate. 

“We can’t put ourselves in the victim’s role, because the Palestinian people are strong and they will always be strong,” Sundous says. “Hassan is not alone in this situation that he is suffering from. There are 5,000 prisoners in the Israeli prisons. You can imagine, 5,000 families that are suffering from this. It’s a part of your resistance on this land.”

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