Israel’s Lawless Arrest of Ahmad Qatamish – by Stephen Lendman
On April 21, the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association expressed grave concern about Qatamish’s arrest:
“not only because (it’s) motivated by his political opinions and beliefs and as such should be considered a case of arbitrary detention, but also because (he’s) been (targeted by) Israeli authorities before on numerous occasions, notably” for long incarcerations without charge.
As a result, Addameer feels he’ll again be administratively detained “without proper recourse to justice and without any legitimate means to defend himself.”
Speaking on his behalf, Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member Dr. Mustafa Barghouti called Israel’s arrest “a shameless attempt at muzzling him in an unjustifiable attack on his freedom of expression.”
A distinguished writer, scholar, academic, lecturer and activist, Qatamish earned his doctorate in political science. He’s also an author of several books on political, philosophical and literary topics, as well as a respected speaker at local universities and research centers.
In 2010, he taught at Al-Quds University in Jerusalem, the only Arab institution of higher learning in the divided city, established in 1984 offering degrees in fields ranging from law to technology as well as many other disciplines.
Moreover, its 1998-established Center for Jerusalem Studies includes course work on interdisciplinary cultural heritage topics, as well as related seminars and symposiums from a Palestinian perspective.
Qatamish’s latest ordeal began before dawn on April 21 when Israeli soldiers and intelligence officers arrested him, his wife, daughter, and two other female relatives (including a 14-year old child). He alone was taken to Beitunia’s Ofer detention center.
His wife, Suha Barghouti, is an Addameer and Palestinian Red Crescent Society board member, as well as being affiliated with a Palestinian NGO Network Steering Committee. Heroic and outspoken like her husband, she calls his latest arrest:
“an attempt to silence his critical voice and prevent his compelling vision for emancipation and self-determination from spreading further in the Palestinian public.”
As a result, she urged human rights organizations to exert pressure on his behalf to free him and do everything possible to assure his safety and well-being. It’s no simple task in Israeli detention, known for its lawless brutality.
His daughter, Haneen, home on break from Cairo University, described her brief ordeal with Israeli soldiers, saying:
“They tried to intimidate me by exploiting my deep agony over the idea of being denied my father again, but I firmly confronted them and reminded them of the fate of all colonial powers on our land. In response, their commander shouted that I was as ‘obstinate’ as my father.”
Expressing support for a comrade, Gerarda Ventura, Euromed Platform of NGOs vice president, called Qatamish “one of the most sensitive and intellectual people I have ever met,” especially in the struggle for “freedom, justice and peace.”
First arrested in 1969, he was detained a few months and released, then rearrested in 1972 at which time he was imprisoned for four years, undergoing harsh treatment like other political prisoners.
Until 1992 he went underground to stay free until September when he was again arrested and administratively detained for the next five and half years uncharged, making him the longest ever held administrative detainee to that time.
During his ordeal, he was tortured and abused for weeks, Israel calling him a “dangerous” national leader. He later documented what went on in prison notes called “I Shall not Wear Your Tarboush.”
Finally on April 15, 1998, after a tireless international campaign on his behalf, he was released but prohibited from traveling outside Occupied Palestine. As a result, he devoted his efforts to study, writing and lecturing, as well as founding the Munif Barghouti Research Center.
Visiting Qatamish a day after his arrest, his Addameer-appointed lawyer said he hadn’t yet been interrogated, and was told he’d again be administratively detained uncharged. A previous article discussed how Israel abuses this practice, accessed through the following link:
Those held are denied due process, may be held indefinitely, aren’t told why they’re detained, can’t dispute it, cross-examine witnesses, or present contradictory evidence to refute them.
Three Israeli laws authorize the practice:
— the Order Regarding Administrative Detention (the Administrative Detention Order), part of military law governing the West Bank;
— the Emergency Powers (Detentions) Law for Israel; and
— the Internment of Unlawful Combatants Law (the 2002 Unlawful Combatants Law), like a similar one in America, a dubious Geneva-superceded status international law expert Francis Boyle calls a:
“quasi-category universe of legal nihilism where human beings can be disappeared, detained incommunicado, denied access to attorneys and regular courts, tried in kangaroo courts, executed, tortured, assassinated and subjected to numerous other manifestations of State Terrorism.”
Moreover, Prolonged arbitrary detention is a serious breach of international law. Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states:
1. “Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedures as are established by law.”
2. “Anyone who is arrested shall be informed, at the time of arrest, of the reasons for his arrest and shall be promptly informed of any charges against him.”
4. “Anyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings before a court, in order that that court may decide without delay on the lawfulness of his detention and order his release if the detention is not lawful.”
Although some wiggle room around the law is permitted “in time of public emergency which threatens the life of the nation,” Israel uses it consistently, abusively, and in violation of Fourth Geneva’s Article 78 stating:
“If the Occupying Power considers it necessary, for imperative reasons of security, to take measures concerning protected persons, it may, at the most, subject them to assigned residence or to internment.”
“Decisions regarding such assigned residence or internment shall be made according to a regular procedure to be prescribed by the Occupying Power in accordance with the provisions of the present Convention. This procedure shall include the right of appeal (decided on) with the least possible delay. (If it’s upheld), it shall be subject to periodical review….”
Administrative detention should never substitute for customary criminal proceedings. It should only be used to prevent someone from performing a future lawless act, never to transfer protected persons to the territory of the occupying power or to hold heroic activists uncharged.
Nonetheless, throughout its history, Israel has systematically and repeatedly flaunted international law with impunity, including by imprisoning some of Palestine’s most heroic figures like Qatamish.
It’s done to silence their influential voices, not their redoubtable spirit that persists until Palestine is one day free of Israel’s pernicious, repressive, lawless occupation. For millions of Occupied, Israeli, and diaspora Palestinians, it can’t come a moment too soon.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.