In recent years the residents of al-‘Issawiya (Jerusalem governorate) have faced constant harassment and intimidation from the Israeli military. Since the beginning of the occupation in 1967, Israel has progressively annexed al-‘Issawiya’s lands to allow for Israeli settlement expansion. Palestinians living in al-‘Issawiya, which is cut off from the rest of the West Bank by the Annexation Wall, also experience regular house demolitions.
During the last week, the Israeli forces raided al-‘Issawiya to arrest Shadi Tareq al-’Issawi, 31, who is the brother of Samer Tareq al-’Issawi. Samer, who now weighs less than 48 kilograms, has been on partial hunger strike for more than 200 days to protest his arbitrary re-arrest after his release in a prisoner swap on 18 October 2011. He is currently suffering from deteriorating health conditions including low blood pressure, an irregular heart rate, muscle pain and constant headaches. On Thursday 21 February, Samer was sentenced to eight months imprisonment by an Israeli court. However, he is yet to face an Israeli military committee which could sentence him to 20 years in prison.
On 18 December 2012, the Israeli forces arrested Samer’s sister, Shirin, 34. Although she was released after 24 hours, she was sentenced to ten days of house arrest and prevented from attending Samer’s hearings for six months. In addition, on 1 January 2013, the Israeli military demolished the home Ra’fat, Samer’s eldest brother, under the pretext of lack of building permit.
Tareq Ahmad al-’Issawi
On 16 February 2013, at around 2:30 am, Samer’s father Tareq, 70, was woken by hammering on the door of his house. Upon opening the door he was faced with 30 masked Israeli soldiers. When Tareq requested to see an arrest or search warrant, the soldiers told him that it was none of his business. Tareq was then ordered to take all of his family members out of the house immediately so that the soldiers could search the house. Tareq and the rest of his family were then allowed back inside, but they were held in the living room and guarded by five Israeli soldiers.
The soldiers forced Tareq to show them where his son, Firas, lived and after searching Firas’s house Tareq was ordered to bring the soldiers to the house of another son, Mid’hat, who has been held in an Israeli prison since 14 May 2012. When Tareq’s son Shadi opened the door the Israeli soldiers dragged him outside, pushed him to the ground and handcuffed him. Tareq was then told to return to his home and was prohibited from leaving.
After the Israeli forces withdrew from the area, Tareq was told by his neighbours that the Israeli military had taken Shadi with them when leaving. At approximately 10:00 am, Tareq received a phone call from an Israeli officer at the Russian compound prison facilities in Jerusalem to inform him that Shadi had been arrested. When a lawyer from the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club tried to visit Shadi later that day he was told that nobody was allowed to visit him until 22 February 2013. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 8371/2013)
At the time of writing, Shadi was still in an Israeli detention centre and prohibited from seeing his lawyer and family.
There are currently four Palestinian prisoners on full or partial hunger strike in Israeli prison; Tareq Husein Qa’dan, Ja’far Ibrahim ‘Izz-al-Din and Ayman Isma’il Sharawna, in addition to Samer Tareq al-’Issawi. Al-Haq expresses its grave concern at the seemingly punitive treatment by Israeli forces against the al-‘Issawi family. Furthermore, Al-Haq is outraged by Israel’s continuous refusal to respect international law in relation to its treatment of Palestinian prisoners. Violations include the illegal transfer of Palestinians outside of the occupied territory, the continued use by Israel of administrative detention as a widespread practice to punish and suppress Palestinian dissent against the Israeli occupation, and the denial of family visits to prisoners.
For further information on the current hunger strikes please read Al-Haq latest joint statement with Addameer and Physicians for Human Rights – Israel.