Palestinian prisoners arrested in PA sweep report torture, mistreatment (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Amira Hass 06/25/12)
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Many family members of detainees from the Jenin refugee camp have
been having trouble sleeping in recent weeks. Not because of their
relatives held in Israeli prisons but rather because of their
relatives held in Palestinian Authority prisons, and mainly because
of rumors - which have been confirmed - of torture at the
Preventative Security detention facility in Jericho.
"Palestinian journalists who have made a nice living by writing about
the heroism of our camp and from interviewing our fighters aren’t
writing about the arrests or at least do not put our version up
against the official version," camp resident Abu Anton said bitterly.
The PA´s wave of arrests began on May 2, after shots were fired at
the house of Jenin governor Kadura Musa. Two hours later, he died
from a heart attack. At the order of Mahmoud Abbas and under the
command of Interior Minister Said Abu-Ali, a joint operations room
was set up for all the Palestinian security organizations, who are
carrying out the arrest operation together.
Very quickly, two residents of the camp turned out to be suspects in
the shooting, but the authorities continued to arrest anyone
suspected of holding weapons and anyone who is close to someone also
deemed a suspect.
Leading the operation is Ibrahim Ramadan, a preventative security
officer from the Dheisheh refugee camp, who is accompanied by a legal
unit. Extensions of detention are indeed carried out according to
Palestinian law, every 15 days.
Also according to the law, after 24 hours detainees must be
transferred to general prosecution investigators or military
prosecutors. However, in reality detainees are held for weeks by
preventative security. Family visits have also been denied - an
illegal practice as well.
Arrests with no clear purpose
From the last statement by Palestinian security forces´ spokesman
GeneralAdnan Damiri, it looks like anyone who owns a weapon is
required to register it and extend the license once a year.
The Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR), an
official oversight body that operates in the Gaza Strip and West
Bank, told Haaretz last week that this is one of the problems: The
wave of arrests, which in the meantime has expanded to Nablus and the
Balata refugee camp as well, has been given all sorts of
explanations, but from the start no particular objective has been
People with no connection to the shooting were arrested during this
wave. A sense of collective punishment was created, even before the
ICHR wrote over fifty affidavits regarding torture and maltreatment
of detainees in Jenin and Nablus.
The number of those arrested is somewhere between 120 and 150. Little
by little, some of those detained are being released, either because
it turned out that they were not connected to any wrongdoing or
because they handed their weapons in to the authorities. The reports
of their experiences during the weeks in which they were unable to
meet with attorneys (or family members) match the rumors and
affidavits to ICHR and Al Haq, a non-governmental Palestinian human
The detainees were held for long hours and days in the Shabach
position - their hands tied behind their back or over their heads
with iron restraints, either standing or crouching. Sometimes they
were made to stand for an hour or an hour and a half on hummus cans.
"This is an improvement," a friend of one of the detainees joked
bitterly, when he heard the testimony last week. "Hamas detainees
were made to stand on tea glasses.”
Detainees were imprisoned in the Shabach for various periods of time
and kept in solitary confinement, during which time the bag that had
been placed on their heads during arrest was replaced.
"My eyes were covered the whole time," one of the detainees told
Haaretz. According to the testimonies, security personnel wandered
among them, sometimes beating them. When detainees asked to go to the
bathroom, the guards delayed. Showers were allowed on very rare
When the Shabach position period was over, and the detainees were
left alone, they managed to exchange information by shouting to each
other. Very soon, it became clear who was being interrogated for
what. They were then transferred to bigger cells, with a number of
detainees in each. At that point, some considered starting a hunger
strike, like their brothers in Israeli prisons.
"But we discovered that our guards didn´t care if we eat or not," one
released detainee said. Others explained that at the beginning, the
guards would not allow them to pray, so they started to pray while
handcuffed. The detainees were taken out to a yard for ten minutes at
a time – each by himself.
´Suspected of belonging to a criminal gang´
Haaretz did not manage to speak with the spokesperson of the
Palestinian security forces, nor the Interior Ministry. Investigators
at the Preventative Security prison, who met with ICHR
representatives, denied the use of torture.
The interior minister did not deny the claims, but said that these
were isolated incidents, not policy. Damiri said in an official
interview that whoever feels hurt can file a complaint.
In the official version of Musa’s death, the cause was an attempt on
his life, while in the camp they said that the man was suffering from
a heart condition, and was also under some distress because of a
family issue. According to those in the refugee camp, official
spokespersons are presenting the detainees as a group of criminals,
thieves and corrupt arms dealers who are responsible for security
mayhem. "Suspected of belonging to a criminal gang," was written on
the request to extend the detention of most of the detainees.
"A criminal gang? My son?" fumes Amina Dabaya, the mother of one of
the detainees, 30-year-old Ra´ed.
Ra´ed, a Fatah operative and former prisoner in Israel, currently
working with Palestinian intelligence, was arrested by Palestinian
security forces in his office. Another one of Dabaya´s sons is still
in prison in Israel.
"Only four years ago, Mahmoud Abbas honored two of my sons who were
killed by the army," she told Haaretz in the green garden that she
maintains on the edge of the camp, her way of soothing her soul. Her
younger son was killed in a demonstration during the Second Intifada,
her second was killed in an exchange of fire.
"I heard about the honor on the television. I did not see anything
substantial in it. And now you come here and detain my son? This is
the honor that you bestow on us? I know they put a bag on his head,
and that his shoulder was dislocated from the Shabach position. I am
not allowed to visit him. For ten years I have been running between
prisons and graveyards, what is that? They play with them as if they
were footballs. This time with you, this time with the Jews?"
Two of 70-year-old Alia Aamer´s sons were detained during the current
wave of arrests. "Kadura [Musa] was like my son. I mourned him. But
his death was from God, natural," Aamer, known as Umm Ziad in the
camp, told Haaretz. "They used his death to attack everybody. There
were some who shot at Kadura, but not everybody. Now everybody has
turned into collaborators that have to be arrested?”
Her eldest son Ziad set up the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade in Jenin, and
was killed in a battle the first day the IDF went into the camp on
April 3, 2002. He was a Fatah operative who sat in an Israeli jail
for 17 years until he was released under the Oslo Accords. Like many
of his friends, he was enlisted in the Palestinian preventative
His peers in prison remember with pride how he attacked a prison
guard who loved to humiliate them. He was, and remains, a hero in the
eyes of many. One of Ziad’s friends who rose in the ranks of the PA
related how, at the beginning of the 1990s, Ziad was fed up with what
he saw as the depravity of Fatah and its shift from a liberation
movement to a ruling party, even before bringing the nation its
Most of those arrested in the current wave are members of Fatah,
except three who are identified with the Jihad (and who have already
been released), and Mu´ayyed Aamer, another of Alia´s sons.
Mu’ayyed, affiliated with Popular Front for the Liberation of
Palestine, was arrested many times by Israel for administrative
detention. He has a clothes stall in the market, and always refused
to join any security force. According to rumors from prison, it seems
that he was under investigation for weapons that people of the
Popular Front held as they marched, masked, during some demonstration.
Ahmad is the second of Alia Aamer’s to be arrested. He is a Fatah
member and a member of the preventative security. Another son of hers
is a police officer, and a fourth son belongs to the National
Security. Her many grandchildren sit and listen to her when she fumes
over the slander.
"Damiri said on television that they are thieves?” she says. “In
front of the whole world? Aren´t you ashamed of this lie? We have no
land and we have no factories or companies. See how much debt our
children have to the Palestinian banks? Who stole? Only those who
have, the big ones. We are refugees. All the talking that officials
do on TV is meant to justify their status."
This is the profile similar to that of all the detainees from the
camp, most of whom are also connected through family ties. Their
relatives - a brother, a mother, some cousins - were killed by the
army whether as civilians or as members of an armed group. They were
detained by Israel, sentenced or placed under administrative
detention, and have other relatives in Israeli detention today.
The IDF destroyed their homes in the First (or Second) Intifada; some
of their homes were destroyed twice or more. Their entire lives have
been lived in the shadow of Israeli weapons and the futile attempts
to emulate Israeli militarism. All the Palestinian Authority knew
how to do was enlist them in one of their security forces.
A third mother we spoke with, whose son was killed by the army and
another son is currently being detained by the PA, said, "If not for
the victims in our midst, Abu Amar and his army would not have come
here. And Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] would not have been the head of
the Palestinian Authority today."
Along with vague official statements about the arrests, rumors have
spread that Muhammad Dahlan financed illegal activity of the
arrested "gangs.” The rumors say that a lot of money has been
circulated, that this is a case of massive arms dealing, and that the
weapons used in the shooting at the governor´s house were hidden by
Jamal Zubeidi, or Abu Anton, is the uncle of Zakaria and the brother
of Alia Aamer. He calls the rumors on Dahlan and "the large amounts
of money" allegedly in the banks "all lies." The rumors, he said,
were intended to generate public hostility toward the detainees and a
lack of interest in their arrests. He also knows that the
investigation found that Zakaria was not aware that the weapons
hidden were supposedly his.
All the attention is now focused on the demand that the weapons of
the al-Aqsa Martyrs be handed over. Abu Anton also fumes over the
claims of "security chaos" that the detainees allegedly caused in the
"On the contrary,” he says. “Zakaria and his friends always act as
intermediaries in internal conflicts." Other residents of Jenin, who
support the confiscation of weapons from private individuals and who
do not share Anton’s high opinion of his nephew Zakaria, confirm that
they did not sense any unusual "lack of security," and say that the
official statements are exaggerated.
Chaos and power struggles within the security forces
The “chaos” is within the security system, says Abu Anton. A Fatah
activist from the Ramallah area, who had been jailed in Israel in the
past for involvement in an armed cell confirms this. According to
him, there are power struggles between commanders that influence what
happens on the street as well as in the lower ranks. At the end of
2011, Dib Al Ali, former commander of the National Security (an army
of sorts), retired. Nidal Abu Dukhan, a former commander of the
military intelligence replaced him. Now he is pushing aside those
loyal to Al Ali. Two of them were part of those that fired at the
“Al Ali was also very much liked by Israel and the United States,”
says the veteran activist. Al Ali helped head the PA crackdown of
Hamas after its electoral victory in 2006. Zakaria Zubeidi and his
friends were Al Ali’s most loyal soldiers. “Zakaria was the one to
bring Abbas to the camp,” says Abu Anton, “he worked for him during
The men are convinced that the government in Ramallah, the same one
that, according to them, takes its orders from Israel, seeks to
suppress the camp due to its pride, its steadfastness and its
cohesion. “You give yourself too much credit,” said one of the
interrogators in Jericho, according to the testimonies of one of the
Within the relations of power in the Palestinian Authority and in
Fatah, the veteran Fatah activist said, the weapon is the only
capital those activists have.
“Abbas is like a cat that eats its own kittens,” said Umm Ziad, the
bereaved mother. “It eats Fatah´s younger generation. Abbas says our
children are collaborators? He humiliated us when he said that our
children are thieves. Abbas and Abu Amar have a debt. To me. I don’t
want Palestine – my son is worth all of Palestine.” (© Copyright 2012
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