Hana Shalabi: Hunger Striking for Justice
by Stephen Lendman
Israel administratively detains hundreds of Palestinians indefinitely without charge lawlessly.
Like thousands of others incarcerated, their “crime” is wanting to live free on their own land in their own country. Israel calls it terrorism.
Hana Yahya Shalabi is one of many abused. A young Palestinian woman, 50 Israeli soldiers, an intelligence officer, and attack dogs arrested her on February 16. Violently they stormed her home pre-dawn. In the process, her family, including young children, was terrorized.
After searching and ransacking it, she was arrested with no warrant or charge. Soldiers prohibited her from dressing. Her brother heard the intelligence officer say: “Hana must die.”
During arrest, soldiers beat her. Her brother Omar was also viciously attacked. Hana was painfully handcuffed, blindfolded, put in a military jeep, and ordered to remain uncomfortably on its floor on her knees. Each time she moved, she was threatened.
At Salem Detention Center, she was beaten and humiliated, then transferred to HaSharon Prison. Immediately, she began hunger striking in protest.
For several days, she was held in solitary confinement, then moved to another isolated room. She was constantly threatened and intimidated. On February 21, she was transferred back to Salem for interrogation.
On February 23, she appeared in military court. Her lawyer warned about administrative detention without charge. When issued, six months were ordered until August 16. At the same time, she received seven days in solitary confinement for hunger striking. Four days later, she returned to the general prison population.
On February 29, she was moved to HaSharon Prison’s security wing for refusing to ingest food. She’s determined to continue until freed.
On March 1, she began day 15. Only drinking water, she excludes food and supplements. After an initial medical exam, she refuses others.
On February 29, a military court hearing was held. The presiding judge postponed ruling until meeting with an intelligence official on March 4. Hana and her lawyer are prohibited from attending.
In October 2011, she was the first female detainee released in exchange for Gilad Shalit after being imprisoned without charge for two and half years. Hamas Detainees Minister Atalla Abu As-Sabah said her health’s deteriorating. In solidarity, her elderly parents refuse food in protest.
Hana’s one of nine children in a Burqin village farming family near Jenin. On September 29, 2005, Israeli soldiers killed her brother Samer and a close friend. He’d been imprisoned and released 90 days earlier after spending nine months in prison.
Earlier, Hana was arrested on September 14, 2009. At 1:30AM, soldiers stormed her home, ordered everyone outside, and demanded she surrender her ID card. They then searched and ransacked her home. It’s standard abusive Israeli practice.
While there, Samer’s picture was removed from a frame and destroyed. Soldiers stomped on it while cursing family members. When Hana’s father Yahya intervened and tried protecting her, soldiers stuck him violently. Hana’s mother fainted. Family members were terrorized.
Hana was painfully shackled, blindfolded, taken to Salem Detention Center, then transferred to Kishon Detention Center for interrogation.
Held in solitary confinement for eight days, her tiny cell had no windows or natural light. It contained a dirty mattress and toilet. Daily she endured exhausting interrogations, physical violence, and sexual harassment from 10AM until late evening.
In confinement, she lost all track of time as do others there. At times, she was tied to her bed frame for added pain and humiliation. Guards, in fact, photographed her in that position.
In protest, she hunger struck during the eight-day period. She confessed to nothing because then and now she’s innocent.
Israel obtains many torture extracted confessions. Innocent Palestinians yield to stop pain. They’re judged guilty by accusation or by virtue of being arrested. Fraudulent evidence is used to convict. Thousands are wrongly abused. Israeli justice assures none.
After Hana’s interrogation concluded, she remained at Kishon another nine days. On September 29, 2009, Military Commander Ilan Malka ordered her administratively detained for six months. He spuriously claimed she posed a “security” threat.
Secret evidence alleged she planned a “terrorist attack” and began preparing. Proof was lacking because none existed. Other Palestinians face similar ordeals with no way to defend themselves against alleged secret evidence unavailable to their lawyers.
Administrative detentions without charge prove innocence because if guilty, evidence would be presented, not vague, unsubstantiated allegations without proof.
Hana’s lawyer appealed in vain. Rarely ever do higher courts overturn lower rulings, no matter how baseless. Ordered detained until March 13, 2010, she was extended multiple times for two and a half years until released in October 2011 in exchange for Shalit.
At the time, 1,027 Palestinian political prisoners were released on two separate dates. Had Hana not been included, she’d likely have been detained months or years longer. Her current ordeal proves it.
Throughout her earlier detention, she endured deplorable conditions. During 17 days of grueling interrogations, she spent days in isolation and was denied clean clothes.
On October 1, 2009, she was transferred to HaSharon Prison’s Section 2 together with alleged female prisoners charged with criminal offenses, whether or not they committed them.
Given appalling Israeli brutality and persecution, most likely were innocent, perhaps all.
Like other prisoners, Hana was subjected to harassment, discrimination, humiliation, threatened physical attacks, and other forms of abuse. As a result, she and others incarcerated live in fear. They also experience insomnia and emotional stress throughout their ordeal. It takes a toll. No one’s released unscarred.
After 25 days in HaSharon’s Section 2, Hana was moved to Section 12 with other detainees. She remained there until released. One of Israel’s largest prisons, overcrowding, poor food and medical care, humidity, lack of natural sunlight, poor ventilation, and deplorable hygiene conditions put detainees through horrific ordeals.
Abusive Israeli Detentions
Israel uses administrative detentions lawlessly. Those held may be imprisoned indefinitely without charge. Denied due process, they’re not told why they’re detained, can’t dispute it, cross-examine witnesses, or present contradictory evidence to prove innocence.
Since 1967, various military orders authorized the practice. On May 1, 2010, Military Order 1651 codified them into what’s called Israel’s Criminal Code. It consolidated past versions relating to arrests, prosecutions, and detentions.
It applies to children like adults. Israel makes little distinction, often none. Children young as 10, and at times younger, are abusively affected.
Under article 285 of Military Order 1651, military commanders may detain Palestinians up to six months. Indefinite renewals may be issued for alleged security reasons.
Nearly always, they’re bogus. If real evidence existed, it’d be presented. Kept secret shows it’s baseless. As a result, innocent detainees like Hana and Khader Adnan could be held forever uncharged if Israeli authorities wished.
Many spend years before release and face constant re-arrest threats. Adnan was arrested and detained nine times. Others are similarly persecuted.
Practically all Palestinian families are affected or know relatives and/or friends similarly treated.
Prolonged arbitrary detention constitutes a serious international law breach. 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 exceptions are permitted “in time of public emergency which threatens the life of the nation,” Israel does it abusively. Doing so also violates 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’s only permitted to prevent future lawless acts, never without evidence, or to transfer protected persons to the occupying power’s territory.
Israel’s a rogue terror state. It spurns international law abusively. It violates fundamental civil and human rights disdainfully.
It treats Palestinians like Untermenschen (sub-humans), doesn’t care if they suffer or perish, and acts toward them to assure it.
With no accountability, Israel gets away with murder. Palestinians bare the cross. Their liberating struggle continues.
A Final Comment
For decades, many Palestinians hunger struck for justice. Khader Adnan drew world attention and support. As a result, others like Hana are helped.
Support’s growing to release her. Like Khader, dignity’s more important than food. So is justice. Both show extraordinary courage. Few match them.
The whole world’s watching. Light’s being shined on Israeli crimes. We’re all Khader Adnan and Hana Shalabi. Their struggle is ours.
Visit the FreeHana.org site for more information and updates, and lend support to free her.
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.