Al Dameer, an organization concerned with the providing care legal services for prisoners and upholding human rights, has visited more than 80 foreigner prisoners in Ramla and Beer Al-Saba. These detainees were arrested last Friday, July 8th 2011 upon their arrival to Tel Aviv in hopes of visiting Palestine and standing in solidarity with its people in their struggle against the occupation.
Al Dameer strongly condemns Israel’s actions and their arbitrary restrictions on the rights of individuals for freedom of movement, association and expression. This situation has proved that Israel has in fact imposed a blockade not only on Gaza, but also on the West Bank by imposing constraints on the entry of foreign peace activists and detaining them without clear legal grounds.
In addition to the arbitrary restriction of movement, these foreign activists were treated very poorly.
Between the 9th and 12th of July, Al Dameer lawyers (Annan Odan and Samer Sema’an) visited these detainees, who had reported to them that they were not provided with neither food nor water. Fadwa Al-Atrash, a 19-year old student reading French, reported to the lawyer that she had not had any food or water between 15.30 until midnight, when she arrived to Ramla prison. Further, Fadwa was detained in a military vehicle with other foreigner for approximately one hour. Despite the hot weather, the soldiers deliberately turn on the heating in the car. Additionally, according to Fadwa, the authorities beat some foreigners during the detention at the airport. Fadwa was beaten on the legs, punched on the face and back by 3 security officers at the airport. Muhammad Najjar, a 33-year old Belgian citizen, was beaten twice at the airport. When 4-5 Israeli officers forcefully took him to the plane to return to Belgium, Najjar refused. As a result, soldiers kicked and punched Najjar. When he later tried to protect Fethiye Abdul Albardali from being beaten, approximately 10 security forces attacked Najjar.
In contradiction to Israeli law, the Israeli authorities informed Al Dameer lawyers that the foreigners are not entitled to receive visits by their lawyers. After extensive discussions with the office of the general attorney in Tel Aviv, the lawyers were allowed to visit the prison at 14.00. As another violation of the law of entry, the international activists were not provided with justification for the denial of entry into Israel. Further, they were not allowed to contact their families, causing the hunger strike by the prisoners to demand the full implementation of the law. It was only after the strike that the authorities promised that they will be allowed to contact their relatives. Despite these promises, very few prisoners were allowed to make phone calls.
Further, the authorities used tactics in order to prevent detainees from using their right to appeal the decision of deportation. The men and women were place in separate sections in order to prevent them from communicating and coordinating their responses. Additionally, the authorities reportedly tried to convince the detainees to leave voluntarily. The authorities dealt with these detainees as criminals by confiscating their belongings and forcing them to clean cells and corridors.
Al Dameer Foundation encourages the international community, particularly the embassies and consulates to immediately intervene and condemn Israel’s actions. Israel has imposed a restriction of entry to the Occupied Palestinian Territories and hindered the right to freedom of expression, opinion and association with the Palestinian cause.