Walid Hanatsheh: Palestinian Prisoner of Conscience
by Stephen Lendman
The Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association calls Hanatsheh “a human rights defender who is currently in administrative detention.”
As Health Work Committees (HWC) Finance and Administration Manager, he helped “provide necessary healthcare to over 500,000” Palestinians.
In 1994, he was detained, interrogated for 30 days, then released. In June 2002, he was arrested for being in Jerusalem “illegally.” His wife’s a Jerusalemite. Arrest for “illegal presence” became an administrative detention ordeal. At issue is his humanitarian activism and alleged connection to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). As a result, he was held for three and a half years.
Military commanders sign detentions. Military judges review them. Military court of appeals proceedings may follow. High Court of Justice ones may be requested. Up to six months can be ordered, subject to limitless extensions.
After two years imprisoned, military judges had reservations. In October 2004, Hanatsheh’s extension was upheld, subject to possible alternatives.
Nonetheless, in December 2004, another extension was approved. However, the judge ruled that barring extraordinary circumstances, further extensions weren’t justified.
In March 2005, another judge said “there is room to seriously consider the release of the detainee from administrative detention. However….I am of the opinion that there is room to have the detainee remain in administrative detention for another short period of time.”
He added that barring extraordinary developments, holding him longer wasn’t justified. In May 2005, a new judge said old material against him didn’t justify holding him longer than another month.
He ruled that only a “new” order containing new information or developments can justify doing so. As a result, after three and a half years in prison, Hanatsheh was released.
Nonetheless, the Israel Securities Authority (ISA) manufactured new information it called substantive. On review, a military judge ruled it “does point to details of actions thus far unknown, yet these are insufficient to substantively alter the existing intelligence picture.”
“The new information does include details which illustrate the detainee’s modus operandi during his incarceration, yet a review of preexisting information indicates that some of this activity had already been known, and the rest may be reasonably deduced from the detainee’s status as a senior PFLP operative.”
In fact, no evidence connects Hanatsheh with PFLP membership or involvement. Saying so isn’t proof, or justification for targeting a legitimate nonviolent resistance group. It’s founding document said:
PFLP’s strategic aim is Palestinian liberation “from Zionist colonial occupation.” In addition, it wants Palestinian democracy with Jerusalem its capital. It advocates a state “guarant(eeing) legal rights and equality of opportunity to all citizens, without discrimination on the grounds of religion, sex, belief or color.”
Opposing Zionism and imperialism, it also seeks pan-Arab democratic unity.
Israel calls PLFP members terrorists for wanting to live free on their own land in their own country. Popular resistance continues courageously to achieve it.
Israel’s military court of appeals upheld Hanatsheh’s lower court injustice. However, the High Court of Justice reversed it saying “we have come to the conclusion that in this case, (new) information tips the scale in favor of some extension of the detention.”
As a result, it ordered him held another three months. In December 2005 he was released. In January 2009, he was again arrested, administratively detained, and held lawlessly for one year.
Ruthless Israeli Injustice
When targeted Palestinians are uncharged, injustice follows.
Administrative detentions are authorized by Military Order 1651 (2009). It codified previously issued Criminal Code orders. It consolidated ones issued since 1967, relating to arrests, detentions, and prosecutions.
Military Order 1651 replaced 20 previous diktats from 1967 – 2005, including Military Order 378. It established Occupied Palestine’s military courts, violating civil judicial rights. It also replaced Military Order 132 on “judging juvenile delinquents.” As a result, children young as six are arrested and treated like adults. When imprisoned, permanent trauma often results.
Military Order 1651 also replaced MO 1591. It established administrative detention standards, giving commanders authority to hold Palestinians up to six months with limitless extensions. As of May 1, 2010, they may order detentions based on “reasonable grounds to presume that the security of the area or public security require” them.
In other words, saying so without evidence justifies them. Justice Israeli-style replicates the worst police state practices. It’s continued for decades without end.
As a result, an entire population is terrorized for praying to the wrong God. World leaders yawn and ignore it. America provides generous support. Annually it increases while homeland needs go begging.
Hanatsheh Arrested for Fourth Time
On November 22, 2011, 20 soldiers, an intelligence officer, and unidentified masked man stormed his home at 1:30AM. Without cause, he was again arrested and held.
On November 30, he was ordered detained for six months. Administrative detentions use secret evidence, unavailable to victims and counsel. As a result, they can’t challenge alleged evidence in violation of international humanitarian law.
It permits limited use of administrative detentions in emergency situations, but requires authorities follow basic rules and procedures. They include due process hearings at which detainees may challenge why they’re held. Israel spurns all international law. As a result, Palestinians like Hanatsheh suffer.
Secret evidence even extends to constitutionality issues, argued by the State ex parte. As a result, in March 2009, three Israeli human rights organizations withdrew their petition challenging the constitutionality of a High Court criminal procedure order.
Withdrawal was in protest over the Court’s decision to let the General Security Service present information exclusively to its judges without petitioners’ presence. As a result, they couldn’t examine and question it.
Palestinians are systematically denied justice in a rigged system against them. Once charged, or detained without charges, they’re guilty by accusation or implication. Equal protection’s a nonstarter. Justice serves Jews one way, Palestinians another, affording them none.
Hearings for Hanatsheh’s detention took place in two sessions. First, he and his lawyer were present. Closed proceedings followed. Secret evidence was presented.
The military judge said it showed PFLP activism. As a result, he said, administrative detention is the “only way to prevent the danger posed by the detainee.” He cited previous detentions based on alleged PFLP involvement.
As a result, on December 1, he was ordered detained. His lawyer appealed, stressing his humanitarian work. Holding him negatively impacts Palestinians receiving it. He also explained that baseless evidence justified previous arrests and detentions.
On January 15, his appeal was denied. Addameer believes targeting him relates to his Health Work Committees (HWC) affiliation and support for prisoner hunger strikes begun last September.
HWC actively coordinated prisoner solidarity events and other supportive efforts. Because PFLP prisoners were involved, authorities connected Hanatsheh to them unfairly.
According to Addameer:
His case “reflects the policy of arbitrary detention employment by Israeli authorities, and particularly the use of administrative detention as punishment for individuals when there is not sufficient evidence (or perhaps none) for an indictment.”
Incarceration harms families and detainees. Hanatsheh’s wife Bayan said separation slowly kills them. Spouses struggle to get by. So do children without full parental support. Moreover, future plans can’t be made.
Hanatsheh’s young children ask why their father’s never home and doesn’t pick them up at school like other kids’ parents. Moreover, when he was detained in 2002, Bayan became seriously ill. His lawyer used medical reports to get him released. Denying his motion, an arrogant military judge said:
“The lives of the Israeli public are more important than Walid’s life or his wife’s life.”
In fact, Hanatsheh threatens no one. Humanitarian activism got him arrested and detained. Moreover, Jerusalemite Bayan applied numerous times for ID permission to let him live with her and family members. Each time she was denied for “security reasons.”
In fact, when free, he’s denied entry into Jerusalem. He’s also prevented from traveling outside Palestine for conferences and workshops related to his humanitarian work even though it’s peaceful and not threatening.
Addameer calls his detention an affront to justice and “deliberate violation of his fundamental freedoms and special protections provided under international law for human rights defenders, particularly freedoms of movement, expression, association and peaceful assembly.”
It’s also one of many examples of ruthless Israeli state terrorism. Denying it’s not an option.
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.
Walid Hanatsheh: Palestinian Prisoner of Conscience