Al-Awda New York, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition

ACTION ALERT: FREE ABEER ABU KHDEIR
March 02, 2001

Dear Friends,

A friend of mine was imprisoned last week by Israeli Army. Abeer Abu Khdeir, a Palestinian mother of 4 young children from Jerusalem, has been held in a prison for over a week for undisclosed reasons. She has been denied of seeing her lawyers and family members since the day of her brutal arrest.

I met Abeer during my internship in Jerusalem in 1999. Abeer, despite her hard life under the Israeli military occupation, was always caring, warm, resilient, and had the wit and sense of humor to bring laughter at the most
difficult times - just like many Palestinians I met there.

Abeer became one of more then 1500 Palestinians imprisoned by Israel in the mass arrest campaign since the beginning of this Intifada - many of them children under the age of 17. Human rights organizations have repeatedly
reported about torture and ill-treatment on these prisoners.

I urge you to write to Israeli government to demand the immediate release of Abeer and other unjustly held prisoners. Below is a press release by Women's Organization for Political Prisoners, followed by a sample letter and contact information. At the end of this message is a detailed report on her arrest if you are interested in knowing more.

Thank you so much for your help.

Best,

Shirabe Yamada

Women's Organization for Political Prisoners (WOFPP)
P. O. Box 31811, Tel Aviv
Tel et Fax: 972-3-5227124
Email: trn1@zahav.net.il

Urgent letter on behalf of Abeer Abu Khdeir

Abeer Abu Khdeir, 32 years-old, identity card nr. 023474315, from Shu'afat in the West Bank, mother of four, was arrested by the Israeli Army in the night of February 21, 2001 together with her husband Naser, after six hours
of harassment that was not only directed against her family including her four children, aged from 2 to 12 years old, but also against all the families who live in the same building.

From the day of her detention, February 21, until February 28 she has not been allowed to meet her lawyer. This order may be prolonged at will. We are concerned that during her incommunicado detention, she may be subjected to ill-treatment or torture. May we ask you to write urgent letters, faxes, E-mails on Abeer Abu Khdeir's behalf, to:

  • Ministry of Defense fax: 03-6977285
  • Ministry of Justice fax: 02-6287757
  • The Israeli Embassy in your country

demanding to allow her immediate access to her lawyer, to safeguard her from all forms of ill-treatment and torture and to release her immediately and unconditionally from Israeli jail.

Sample Letter:

Send to:
Minister of Defense/Outgoing Prime Minister Barak: pm@gov.il
Minister of Justice: sar@justice.gov.il

To Defense Minister Barak (or Minister of Justice):

I am writing to demand the immediate release of Abeer Abu Khdeir (ID# 023474315), a 32-year-old mother of 4 young children. Abeer was arrested by IDF on February 21, 2001, from her home in Shaufat along with her husband
Nassar. Her family members were subject to violent and humiliating treatment by IDF during the house raid that preceded the arrest. She and her husband haven't been allowed to see their lawyer and family members since the day of the arrest. They have been detained without warrant for undisclosed reasons.

The conduct of your government on Abeer and her family - house raids, injuring and traumatizing innocent family members, arbitrary arrests, prohibition to see lawyers and family members - are gross violation of human rights and grave breach of international law. Shamefully, over 1500 Palestinians have been imprisoned under similar treatment since the beginning of Intifada Al-Aqsa. Many of them have reportedly been tortured - a practice you supposedly banned in 1999.

I demand you to allow her immediate access to her lawyer, to safeguard her from all forms of ill-treatment and torture and to release her immediately and unconditionally from Israeli jail, in compliance with international human rights standards and rule of law.

Sincerely,

(your name)

Addameer Report on the Recent Arrests in Shu'fat, Jerusalem
25 February 2001

On Wednesday 21 February, three Palestinian residents of Shu'fat, Jerusalem were arrested in their apartment by a large group of undercover Israeli agents, police and soldiers.

According to eyewitnesses, residents of an apartment building in Shu'fat on the main Ramallah-Jerusalem road noticed an unfamiliar dark blue car containing unknown men parked in front of their building at approximately
10 AM A number of residents from the building eventually approached the car to ascertain the identity and intentions of the individuals in the car. A confrontation between the individuals in the car erupted and Israeli police
arrived shortly after, arresting those in the car and stating that they were car thieves operating in the West Bank.

Approximately one hour later, residents noticed that a white Ford with tinted windows, together with a GMC truck, were parked on the main road opposite the building. Sometime later, at approximately 2:30 PM, a resident noticed an armed man at the main door of the building. Suspecting the presence of Israeli Special Forces in the area, he called three other men from the building for help--Ma'Moun Moussa Abu Khedair, Mohammed Othman Abu Khedair and Mohammed Rashid Abu Kheidar. The three approached the armed man and asked him what he was doing. Approximately 40 Israeli Special Forces personnel rushed to the scene, drew their guns and beat all three men,
injuring Ma'moun in the shoulder and face. Another large group of Israeli military personnel then arrived and handcuffed the three men and others from the neighborhood, covering their heads with black sacks.

At approximately 4:30 PM, masked Israeli Special Forces agents forcefully entered the building, which contains 8 flats and houses around 30 people--14 of them children and three of them elderly residents. Israeli Special Forces
agents ordered everyone to leave their flats, including May Abu Khedair, wife of Omar Abu Khedair, who was told to leave her 7 month old daughter inside their flat alone.

Israeli Special Forces agents subsequently entered the flats of Walid Abu Khedair, Nasser Abu Khedair and Yusef Abu Khedair and arrested them, refusing to let them dress or bring their clothes with them. The agents
covered their heads and dragged them down three flights of stairs.

According to further reports, the raid lasted from 4:30 PM to 9:45 PM The children in the flat were terrified and began crying. May Khedair requested that she be allowed to return to the building and retrieve her daughter. The agents refused and placed her with the group of apprehended men.

Rasmia abu Khedair, a 73 year old resident suffering from Osteoporosis, was forced to stand in the freezing cold and rain for more than an hour with the remaining residents of the building. After the first hour, the residents were then locked in a nearby house until the Israeli Authorities completed their search within the apartment complex. Israeli agents searched the apartment of Walid and Nasser using police dogs and mechanical equipment, also destroying personal property, emptying out their cupboards, refrigerator and washing machine and destroying their children's toys.

According to Nasser's sister, a sum of money in dollars was missing from the apartment. Following the search, Nasser, Walid and Abeer, Nasser's 32 year old wife, were arrested. Abeer is the mother of 4 children between the ages of 3 and 11. The three remain in custody at the time of writing at the Russian Compound (Mascobiya) Prison in Jerusalem, where they have been continuously subject to interrogation by the Israeli Authorities.

Abeer Abu Khdeir is the fifth Palestinian woman arrested since the beginning of the Intifada, bringing the number of Palestinian women detained in Israeli prisons to 8. She remains in custody at the Russian Compound, together with Amne Mouna arrested 1/19/2001, and Abeer Amer and Sana'a Amer arrested 2/20/2001. Only Shadia Jaffer was released due to lack of evidence against her after being detained for 8 days.

Addameer Prisoners' Support and Human Rights Association has been closely following the cases of Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons subjected to interrogation since the beginning of 2001. Adv. Sahar Francis, Addameer's
lawyer, has only been allowed 21 visits in total to the over 40 detainees under interrogation during this period and has been prevented from visiting prisoners at least 32 times.

The Prisons Director of the detention center has repeatedly denied visitation rights by legal representatives on the grounds that visits would damage the interrogation process by publicly revealing its methods. In the past, detainees were prevented from seeing their lawyers for a period of 2-8 days. Addameer has recently noted that this period has been extended to 10-30 days by a series of prevention orders issued by the court. Khaled Shibani, for example, was prevented from seeing his lawyer 3 times consecutively over a period of 18 days. Khaled Yusef Hannani and Khaled
Tawfic Hannani were also denied lawyer's visits for over a month. In addition, Addameer legal staff attempted unsuccessfully to visit the Ta Tikva and Jalami interrogation centers four times.

The Israeli General Security Services (GSS) has increased the practice of placing Palestinian prisoners in detention rooms with collaborators. The collaborators then attempt to extract information from detainees by claiming to be active in organizations outside the prison.

In addition, GSS agents continue to use the "shabeh" chair on the majority of detainees. In this interrogation method, the detainee's arms and legs are tied to a chair for more than 10 continuous hours before and during interrogation. Although the Israeli High Court banned the use of "shabeh", or position abuse, during interrogation in September 1999, the court permits interrogators to tie prisoners to normal sized chairs for periods exceeding 10 continuous hours during interrogation, claiming that this is necessary to protect the interrogators.

The number of children under the age of 18 arrested from the beginning of the Intifada has risen to approximately 250. 120 of these children remain in Megiddo and Telmond prisons, which are divided into 5 sections, only one of which is dedicated exclusively to the detention of political prisoners. The children have been placed in cells with those who have been detained for criminal offenses. The children have also suffered from other forms of abuse:

1) Child detainees have been beaten, scalded with hot water and cut with razors. Lou'ia Abu Nijma from Jerusalem suffered severe lacerations to his face as a result of such practices.

2) There have been reports of sexual abuse against children by criminal prisoners that the Israeli prison administration has not investigated.

3) Privileges such as telephone cards, cigarettes, shoes, and canteen purchases have been revoked.

4) Newspapers, magazines and athletic equipment have been barred.

5) Family visits have been denied since the beginning of the Intifada. Visits were permitted on 2 October 2000, for a period of four days and then banned again.

6) Appeals for a reduction in sentence after completion of two- thirds of the sentence, as is normally the case, have been systematically denied.

Addameer calls on the international community to protest the arbitrary detention of Palestinians by the Israeli Authorities and the inhumane treatment detainees are being subjected to. Addameer demands the immediate
release of all Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli prisons.

Letters of protest should be directed towards the following:

Ehud Barak, Outgoing Prime Minister and Minister of Defense,
Office of the Prime Minister, 3 Kaplan Street Hakirya, Jerusalem 91007
Faxes: +972 2 566 4838 and +972 3 691 7915
Email: pm@gov.il

Minister of Justice, Ministry of Justice,
29 Salah al-Din Street, Jerusalem 91029
Fax : + 972 2 6285 438
Email: sar@justice.gov.il

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