Archive for April, 2008

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Israeli Military Trying to Close Palestinian Orphanages

April 29, 2008

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

ACTION ALERT
April 28, 2008

Contact: Joshua Walsh – communications@wrmea.com

Israel has killed 1,020 Palestinian children since 2000 and Palestinians have killed 124 Israeli children. Too many precious children have suffered and died as a result of politics. Another outrage is about to occur and you can help stop it. On April 23 a program on French TV Channel 5 highlighted a tragedy that may occur at any moment. This news is not even discussed in the United States.

The Israeli military is about to close down schools and orphanages run by the Islamic Charitable Society (ICS) in the West Bank city of Hebron. More than 240 boys and girls, aged 5-18 live at the orphanages, while thousands of other children, many of whom have lost at least one parent, receive schooling, food and clothing from the charity. The Israeli military has already seized $157,000 worth of goods — including rice, oil, sugar, clothing and first aid kits — from the ICS warehouse.

Israeli soldiers entered the Rahma Bakery, owned by the society, on April 14, destroyed the oven, and confiscated more than $43,000 of equipment, including all the display cases, refrigerators, fixtures, and most of the inventory. Upstairs, the soldiers destroyed heating ducts. This bakery provided bread for the orphanages.

MPT took this picture of the destroyed bakery

The charity has appealed to the Israeli High Court of Justice. The Israeli army claims that ICS is supporting the Hamas movement, which started in 1987. The society, founded in 1962, argues that ICS is a Palestinian charitable organization, with no political agenda, which is monitored regularly by the Palestinian Authority.
Israel and its supporters in the United States and Europe have targeted almost every charity that is trying to keep Palestinians fed, clothed, and educated. By closing this charity and others, Israel will complete the economic strangulation and even ethnic cleansing of Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza. Israel’s wall and checkpoints are already preventing Palestinians’ access to jobs, fields, medical care and schools.
If the Israeli army shuts down the ICS and its projects in the city of Hebron, nearly 300 orphans will have no place other than the street to sleep. Please fax, telephone and e-mail your representatives to ask Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to stop this outrage. Ask him to show Palestinians that he does want peace by stopping this heartless eviction.

WRITE OR TELEPHONE THOSE WORKING FOR YOU IN WASHINGTON:
President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20500
(202) 456-1414

White House Comment Line:
(202) 456-1111
Fax: (202) 456-2461

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20515
Fax: (202) 261-8577

State Department Public Information Line:
(202) 647-6575
Fax: (202) 647-2283

Any Senator
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-3121

Any Representative
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-3121

E-Mail Congress and the White House:
Congress: visit <www.congress.org>; for President Bush: <president@whitehouse.gov>; Vice President Cheney: vice.president@whitehouse.gov

CONTACT THE EMBASSY OF ISRAEL:
Embassy of Israel
Ambassador Sallai Meridor
3514 International Dr., NW,
Washington, DC 20008
(202) 364-5500 Fax: (202)
(202) 364-5560
 

The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, PO Box 53062, Washington DC 20009. Phone: (202) 939-6050, Fax: (202) 265-4574, Toll Free: (800) 368-5788, www.wrmea.com Published by the American Educational Trust, a non-profit foundation incorporated in Washington, DC to provide the American public with balanced and accurate information concerning U.S. relations with Middle Eastern states. Material from the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs may be printed with out charge with attribution to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.

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Israel ‘using psychological torture’, reports BBC

April 14, 2008

BBC News

(BBC News, Jerusalem) Sunday, 13 April 2008 15:07 UK

Since January, he says, he has been arrested four times by the Israeli security services, accused of stone-throwing and vandalising security cameras in the Old City.

Israel ‘using psychological torture’
Martin Asser
BBC News, Jerusalem

Gheith Nasr, 18, of the Burj Luqluq neighbourhood in East Jerusalem, has not had the ideal preparation for his high-school graduation exams in a few weeks time.

He says he has been detained each time for a few days in one of Jerusalem’s interrogation centres, and then sent home under orders not to leave the house for another few days.

The muscular, but shy and inarticulate teenager says he regularly suffered violent treatment as interrogators tried to get him to own up to crimes he says he didn’t commit – but one of his arrests stands out from the others.

“When I saw my mother being brought into the cell with handcuffs, I tell you, I would have told them anything just to save her, anything,” he said.

It happened a day after Gheith was taken off to Qishlik police station. Plainclothes officers and troops returned to the house and searched through the family’s belongings. 

Gheith Nasr\'s parents at the police station

  I was only in the room for a few seconds; we looked at each other but we were both too shocked to say anything
Um Gheith, mother of prisoner

Already in possession of their ID cards, one of the officers told the parents they must now go down to the police station where they would see their son.

‘Too shocked’

The parents were taken into separate rooms at Qishlik station. Um Gheith – the mother – takes up the story.

“There were two men in the room. I sat down and one stood behind me while the other started shouting in my face in a most aggressive and intimidating way.

“I was shocked, it was the first time I had even set foot in a police station and this man was saying horrible things about what they were going to do to Gheith.

“Then the one behind said: ‘Cuff her hands for the night’ and they put handcuffs on me and then took me along to another room, where I was surprised to see Gheith sitting.

“I was only in the room for a few seconds; we looked at each other but we were both too shocked to say anything. Then they took me out and took off the handcuffs.”

After an hour Mrs Nasr was brought back into the cell for another short and wordless encounter. Then she and her husband were given back their IDs and released.

In the meantime, Mr Nasr had also been taken in to see Gheith, minus handcuffs and an initial “softening up”, but with instructions from a secret service man to encourage the boy to confess.

“I did nothing of the kind,” the genial hospital goods supplier told me. “I sat together with my son for about 10 minutes, asking him how he was and how they were treating him, and saying a few things to keep his morale up.

“Then the officer came back and Gheith was then taken away. The officer asked whether my son was going to own up. I said: ‘He has done nothing’ and the officer replied: ‘You are a liar!’ 

Suicide attempts

In a statement, Israel’s domestic security agency, the GSS or Shin Bet, said it never detains suspects’ relatives or gives false information to detainees to obtain confessions.

“Terrorist investigations are conducted by the Shin Bet according to the [1999] Supreme Court ruling [limiting interrogation methods], under the restrictions of the law and the tight supervision of the Justice Ministry and the courts,” the statement said.

Human rights group the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) says a pattern has emerged recently of the security forces using such tactics with Palestinian interrogees. 

It has published detailed evidence of six sample cases from the last year by the GSS.

The parliamentary constitutional and legal committee has taken the unusual step of scheduling a hearing hours after publication. 

  Manipulating innocent family members is morally reprehensible whatever the danger
Eliahu Abram, PCATI

 The cases are all far more serious than that of Gheith Nasr in security terms, involving terrorism charges, but the interrogation tactics appear exactly the same.

When Mahmoud Sweiti, accused of belonging to the Hamas military wing in Hebron, was shown his wife and father, who was dressed in a prison coat, he twice attempted suicide, the report says. 

In another testimony, the mother and brother of another prisoner – Said Diab – say they were both detained and that he was forced to secretly watch them being violently interrogated, as he claimed to have been himself.

“Presenting close family members as suspects or under interrogation puts the real suspect under incredible psychological pressure, which can be as bad – if not worse – than physical torture,” says PCATI legal consultant Eliahu Abram.

“The General Security Service may think that between beating a prisoner and showing him his mother crying in detention, the latter is the more non-abusive way, but it is not,” he told the BBC.

Violent techniques

“The prisoner feels a sense of powerlessness and responsibility for what is happening to their loved-one – there is no telling whether information obtained in this way is reliable,” Mr Abram said.

He agrees the domestic intelligence service has to do all it can to investigate the terrorism threat which Israel faces from resourceful and determined foes.

“But that is no justification; manipulating innocent family members is morally reprehensible whatever the danger.”

The use of violent interrogation techniques is prohibited under Israeli and international anti-torture laws, but Mr Abram says the Supreme Court has allowed the use of “trickery” to obtain information.

PCATI believes the domestic intelligence agency is breaking the rules on physical abuse and is acting in an atmosphere of impunity because it says the legal authorities do not investigate accusations made by human rights groups.

Published: 2008/04/13 14:07:38 GMT

© BBC MMVIII

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American ISM Volunteer Beaten and Arrested in Israel

April 3, 2008

Per the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (www.wrmea.com):

Blake Murphy, an American activist working with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) in the West Bank, was beaten and arrested by Israeli army and police forces on March 14, 2008. He now faces a series of evidently false charges from the Israeli authorities due to his work supporting non-violent resistance to the occupation in Palestine and is due to be deported to the United States in the immediate future. While in custody Blake has had many of his legal rights abused by the Israeli authorities.

Blake was arrested during the weekly demonstration in the village of Bi’lin, where the separation wall annexes much of the Palestinian village’s land. Blake was picked out of the demonstration by the Israeli forces, violently assaulted, with pepper spray put in his eyes before being taken off and subsequently arrested.

Blake Murphy had to be taken to hospital due to his injuries caused by the soldiers. He appeared in court on March 15, and at that time the judge prolonged his detention until March 18. He was then told that he would have to reappear in court on March 18, only to be told that this was not the case, after spending 8 hours of that day locked in a room meant for 8—along with 15 others waiting for his trial. While in custody, Blake has been denied a translator in court, he has been brought before a judge without his lawyer being informed, and he has been made to appear for a trial that was cancelled without him being informed.

Blake Murphy had been working for the last 8 and a half months in the Palestinian Occupied Territories with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). For over 6 months he was working as the media coordinator for the ISM and was therefore highly involved in supporting Palestinian non-violent resistance toward the occupation. It is for this reason that he was targeted by the Israeli authorities.

For a video of Blake Murphy’s arrest see:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EzIAYQmIDRU

For more information or to contact Blake Murphy:
Adam (ISM) 0598503948 or 0548195210

The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is a Palestinian-led non-violent resistance movement committed to ending Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land. They call for full compliance with all relevant UN resolutions and international law.

For specific media inquires such as interview requests, photo usage, etc. please email the ISM Media Office at media@palsolidarity.org or visit their Web site: http://www.palsolidarity.org

Contact the following to voice your concerns:
President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20500
(202) 456-1414
White House Comment Line: (202) 456-1111
Fax: (202) 456-2461
E-mail: <president@whitehouse.gov>

E-mail Vice President Dick Cheney: <vice.president@whitehouse.gov>

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
Department of State
Washington, DC 20520

State Department Public Information Line:
(202) 647-6575

Any Senator
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-3121

Any Representative
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-3121

E-mail Congress: visit the Web site <www.congress.org> for contact information.

The Israeli Embassy, Washington, DC
(202) 364-5500
The Israeli Embassy, Canada
(613) 567 6450
 

The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, PO Box 53062, Washington DC 20009. Phone: (202) 939-6050, Fax: (202) 265-4574, Toll Free: (800) 368-5788, www.wrmea.com Published by the American Educational Trust, a non-profit foundation incorporated in Washington, DC to provide the American public with balanced and accurate information concerning U.S. relations with Middle Eastern states. Material from the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs may be printed with out charge with attribution to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.

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