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February 25, 2013

After Palestinian dies in Shin Bet hands, time to question the interrogators

 

For years, Palestinian detainees and prisoners have complained about sleep deprivation, painful and prolonged handcuffing, humiliation, beatings and medical neglect. By international standards, this is torture.

By Amira Hass | Feb.25, 2013 | 1:30 AM | 12

Arafat Jaradat, 30, died while under interrogation by the Shin Bet security service. Every week dozens if not hundreds of Palestinians start down the road he began on February 18.An Israeli actor is seen demonstrating one of several standard torture techniques reportedly used by the Shin Bet. Photo by AP

Dozens of Israelis whose names are unknown are on a parallel track: the soldiers who make the arrest in the dead of night, the military doctor who examines the new detainee, Shin Bet interrogators in their changing shifts; Israel Prison Service guards, workers at the prison clinic, and the judge who extends the remand.

True, thousands of others take this road or sometimes a longer and harder one – and stay alive. This is probably what the Shin Bet and the prison service will say in their defense. But from the Palestinian perspective, every stop on the road of detention and interrogation involves enormous physical and psychological pain that the army, the police, the Shin Bet and the prison service inflict intentionally.

This goes well beyond the suffering that should be caused by taking away a person’s liberty and issuing an indictment. For years, Palestinian detainees and prisoners have complained about sleep deprivation, painful and prolonged handcuffing, humiliation, beatings and medical neglect. By international standards, this is torture.

Jaradat was not a ticking bomb. He was arrested on suspicion of throwing stones and an incendiary device at Israeli targets. After three days of interrogation the police asked the court (in the name of the Shin Bet) to extend his remand for another 15 days for questioning. The remand hearing took place on Thursday, February 21, at the Shin Bet’s Kishon interrogation facility, in front of a military judge, Maj. David Kadosh. The judge ordered the remand for 12 days.

Unclear confession

Kamil Sabbagh, an attorney for the Palestinian Authority’s Prisoner Affairs Ministry, asked the police investigator at the hearing whether there were other suspicions against his client; he was told there were not. He asked whether Jaradat had confessed, and the police investigator answered: “partially.” Sabbagh concluded that Jaradat had confessed to throwing stones.

Experience shows that the additional days of interrogation – many, considering the minor nature of the offenses – were not intended merely to extract more confessions, but to get Jaradat to implicate others or to gather personal information, even of an embarrassing nature, to use in the future. From reports by detainees to their attorneys, it’s clear that sleep deprivation combined with painful and prolonged handcuffing is very common. As we learn at military court and elsewhere, people confess to things they haven’t done or implicate others falsely, only to be allowed to sleep.

In the short time Jaradat and his attorney had before the remand hearing, Jaradat, who was suffering from a herniated disc, was able to tell Sabbagh that he was in pain from prolonged sitting. Judge Kadosh knew about the pain from a secret report he had been shown.While the judge was writing his decision, Jaradat told Sabbagh that conditions were difficult for him in isolation and he wanted to be moved to another cell. Sabbagh had the impression that Jaradat was under severe psychological stress, and told the judge this.

The judge then added to his decision: “The defense attorney requests the court’s permission to present the matter of the suspect’s mental health while in a cell alone, and his concerns about psychological damage. He requests that the suspect be examined and properly attended to.”

The role of informants

The remand hearing took place at 10 A.M. Thursday. As of Sunday, Sabbagh did not know when Jaradat had been moved to Megiddo Prison, where he died. Palestinian organizations representing prisoners say one possibility is that he was placed in a cell with informants at Megiddo.

Unlike Shin Bet interrogations, which are documented in memos, the existence of informants is not officially acknowledged by the authorities. Informants use various means to extract information, whether true or false. They boast about their exploits as members of Palestinian organizations, they suggest that the detainee is a collaborator because he does not discuss his actions with them, and they threaten him.

The investigation of Jaradat’s death must go through all phases of his detention and interrogation – and those of thousands of others. But any interrogation will be flawed from the outset because, by authorization of the High Court of Justice, Shin Bet interrogations are not filmed.

Only two weeks ago, on February 6, justices Asher Grunis, Hanan Melcer and Noam Sohlberg turned down a petition by four human rights groups demanding the annulment of a 2003 law letting the police forgo the filming or audiotaping of security suspects’ interrogations. The organizations also asked the court to require the Shin Bet to visually document the questioning of suspects. The justices said that because the law was now under scrutiny, “the time has not yet come to examine the petitioners’ arguments themselves.”

The Palestinians do not need an Israeli investigation. For them, Jaradat’s death is much bigger than the tragedy he and his family have suffered. From their experience, Jaradat’s death isn’t proof that others haven’t died, it’s proof that the Israeli system routinely uses torture. From their experience, the goal of torture is not only to convict someone, but mainly to deter and subjugate an entire people.

A prisoner is dead, a martyr is born

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/a-prisoner-is-dead-a-martyr-is-born-1.505677

There is dying a martyr’s death. And then there is dying a martyr’s death under questioning by the Shin Bet security service. This is as lofty as it gets.

By Chaim Levinson | Feb.25, 2013 | 11:58 AM

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Rioting on Policeman’s Square, Hebron, February 24, 2013. Photo by Emil Salman

Perhaps as a bleak gesture to Purim, on Sunday the stone-throwers of Hebron stockpiled quantities of detonators and firecrackers and hurled them at soldiers. The stores were closed: a strike by all commerce had been declared for the first time in years, as a mark of solidarity with Arafat Jaradat, the Palestinian who died at Megiddo Prison.

Policeman’s Square, the city’s main center of commerce since the Israel Defense Forces shut down the shops on Shuheda Street in 1994, was empty. It looked for all the world like a kind of Palestinian Yom Kippur, but for the roughly 200 teens engaging in a tenacious battle of stones with the army.

Riots in Policeman Square have been a recurring scene of late. Yesterday’s incidents were different in one factor: the Palestinian police didn’t show up.

Usually, after half an hour of letting the steam escape, Palestinian Authority policemen come along and shoo the youngsters home. This time they looked on from afar.

The local police force, which in any case has recently been struggling to sustain its legitimacy, can hardly use force to suppress demonstrations protesting Jaradat’s death.

The IDF deployment at the scene showed supreme restraint. The forces in the field were under the command of an officer who organized a small group of sharpshooters and personally approved every single rubber bullet filed at the main rioters.

Overnight Jaradat has become a symbol of the Palestinian prisoners’ struggle. Paradoxically, this most inconsequential of prisoners, a man arrested for throwing stones, a man who belonged to no organization and of whom no one had ever heard, is the one uniting Palestinian society.

There is dying a martyr’s death. And then there is dying a martyr’s death under questioning by the Shin Bet security service. This is as lofty as it gets.

As in the debate about whether the Jews crucified Jesus, the facts no longer matter. At most, that will be the fief of historians. What matters are emotions and imagination.

Insult to the dead

The demonstrators at Policeman Square yesterday are confident that Jaradat was tortured to death by Shin Bet investigators. Israel’s official version, that he died of heart failure, was scornfully rejected. It was an insult to the dead.

Ultimately, the day passed in relative quiescence. Postponing the deceased’s funeral by 24 hours calmed tempers a bit. But after the funeral, going by precedent, extensive unrest can be expected.

In the meantime disturbances are establishing themselves at every location where there is a permanent military presence, such as the Hwara roadblock at the entrance to Nablus, and the Jalma roadblock at the entrance to Jenin. Stone-throwing along the roads traveled by settlers is rising a notch.

Weapons have not yet been taken out of storage. Armed men have not been seen in the streets. On Saturday a picture of armed men marching came out of the Balata refuge camp but they covered themselves from head to toe, like a bride in Mea She’arim, signaling fear of arrest, be it by the Palestinian Authority or by Israel.

For now, the masses are staying home. One might have expected that in an obstinate city like Hebron, where all the stores have joined the strike to mark Jaradat’s death, more people would have taken to the streets. The army is making a supreme effort not to fuel the protests with more dead and funerals. In the meantime the incidents are like public opinion polls: They are indicative mainly of trends.

The author

Chaim Levinson is a Haaretz correspondent, covering the Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
Previously, he was the Yedioth Ahoronot correspondent for Religious Affairs and the Orthodox communities.
Levinson received his B.A. in Social and Humanities Studies at the Open University and is currently studying for his M.A. in Interdisciplinary Democracy Studies.

BBC Close Up:Syrian Diaries:Women of the Uprising.

[youtube http://youtu.be/5y7JSrRHd9M?]

Syrian Stories: Armed with a Mic and Camera

Amal Hanano  –  February 22, 2013

On April 25, 2011, a man held up a video camera in Deraa. He was not an experienced videographer and he did not have a tripod.

He stood in front of a group of Syrian army soldiers with tanks and filmed them shooting their machine guns towards civilian targets. Each time he watched the clip on his laptop, he noticed the footage was shaky due to his trembling hand, so he would go back to his exposed vantage point to film once more.

He did this 24 times before he made this passably stable clip:

His name was Mohamed “Abu al-Nimer” Masalmeh.

On January 18, 2013 – after 22 months of reporting as a citizen journalist from Deraa – he was killed by army snipers in the village of Busra al-Harir.

He was armed with a microphone and his camera.

Once, before the revolution ignited from his home city, Mohamed, 32, had been detained for four months in the Air Force intelligence center in Damascus.

He was released during the first weeks of the Arab Spring in time to witness an ousted dictator in Tunisia and a roaring Tahrir Square threatening Mubarak.

A group of underground activists, including Mohamed, began meeting at a farm to discuss how to begin a similar revolution in Syria.

As they did, 15 schoolboys — influenced by both their older brothers’ secret discussions and the protests in Egypt and Libya — famously wrote on school walls in Deraa, an event many call the official start of the uprising.

“The people want to topple the regime,” they scrawled. They were arrested and tortured.

On Wednesday, March 15, 2011, Mohamed joined a group of 30 men to protest the schoolboys’ arrest in Deraa’s main square, in front of the courthouse.

Intelligence officers had already heard about the plan, and swarmed the area. The protest was silently aborted. On March 18, they tried again, this time emerging from the Hamza and Abbas Mosque after Friday prayers, chanting: “freedom, freedom, freedom!”

Thousands joined them. Security forces opened fire, two protesters were killed, and a revolution was born.

Mohamed picked up a camera to film the events unfolding in the city. He joined the growing Sham News Network (SNN) as a citizen journalist.

His reports were tributes to the destruction of his city. He took to wearing disguises during his television reports: a black wig; a scarf; large sunglasses.

But this son of Deraa, with his round face and kind eyes, was known to his city and to the circling shabiha. He was a wanted man.

Last year, Mohamed began reporting for Al-Jazeera. He felt Deraa had been forgotten in the media as violence raged across the country.

His reports from the ground exposed the suffering of southern Syria.

A week before his death, his wife returned to Deraa to visit him. They took walks on the snow-covered streets and he drew a heart in the snow.

Her name meant loyalty. Her husband was known for his generosity, often returning home with emptied pockets after walking the city’s streets.

Although he was the city’s most prominent media activist, he never upgraded his old Nokia phone.

“This phone understands me and I understand it,” he told people.

Mohamed once said that he thanked God “that I was blessed to be one of the men to leave the Hamza and Abbas Mosque chanting, ‘freedom.’”

He insisted on mentioning martyrs’ names in his reports, lest anyone forget, including the names of other sons of Houran: Ali Masalmeh, Mahmoud Jawabrah and Husam Abd al-Wali Ayyash.

When four Shaam journalists were killed in May 2012 in Damascus, Mohamed protested in Deraa, without a disguise, holding a sign that read, simply: “We are all Sham.”

In his last few weeks, his friends begged him to leave Deraa; it had become too dangerous. He replied, “I’ll leave, but first I need to go to Busra al-Harir so I can rest.”

Busra al-Harir, 50 kilometers east of Deraa, was the site of intense fighting between Bashar al-Assad’s regime forces and the Syrian rebels.

In his final video, below, he stands on a street corner with armed Free Syrian Army fighters.

He is unarmed, in regular clothes, holding a microphone with a makeshift Al-Jazeera logo. A fighter tests the situation and darts across the street first. He arrives safely to the other side.

Mohamed is next; he is visibly nervous. He puts his head down and runs. Three shots break the silence. Three bullets catch him before he reaches to safety. He falls; his body convulses. The video ends.

Mohamed was shot twice in the torso and once in his leg. There were no doctors or an adequate medical facility to treat him. He bled to death.

Deraa paused one day in January to mourn a man who had finally found a place to rest.

UAE : missing

 
"This is the story of my brother Khaled an Irish/Syrian man in the UAE: The last week of December 2012 the UAE government agents called Khaled into their offices for questioning. Hours later Khaled went to their offices during the integration they asked about the money he’s being sending to Syria and about his opinion toward the Syrian regime and the uprising. They asked if he would stop his support for the revolution. Khaled said he sends money to his father and he would not stop supporting the revolution. A week later, Khaled booked a ticket to go to Ireland at the airport they stopped him and asked to go back see the security since he was not allow to leave the UAE for some unknown reason. Khaled went to see them again. They told him everything should be okay. However, when Khaled went to the airport a week later with a new reservation attempting to go to Ireland he faced a new allegation that he was no permitted to leave the country either permitted to work anymore and that he is under house arrest for no apparent reason.  On Thursday February 7th 2013 they called Khaled and asked him to come down on Sunday the 10th to their office for questioning and bring down your passports because he’s dual citizenships. At that date Khaled went missing and there is now where to be found. By night fall his brothers went to the police asking about where his about. They told them we don’t know anything about this individual. From Sunday to Tuesday his brothers asked hospitals, airports and police stations no one would know anything about his disappearance. On Tuesday went back in person to the police station to make an official report about his missing brother. Two hours later, the police called Ibrahim –Khaled’s younger brother – and told him that Khaled is in our custody and you need to stop asking and searching. On Thursday, the security agents came to Khaled’s house with Khaled to get some documents and a SIM card as they went to his sister’s house to get more documents belong to Khaled. As Khaled looked up his sister’s yes asking her to pray for him.  There have been a quiet few incidents where the UAE’s security agents arrested many Syrians activists and forced them to sign an agreements stated that they won’t practice activities against the Syrian regime in order to be released. Khaled refused to sign this agreement. Although, Khaled’s and the other young activists only activities against the Syrian regime was over his wall on Facebook.  Until this moment, Khaled still missing, has no right for a lawyer, has not being charged with any crime, nor is he allowed his family to contact him.  Khaled has a dual citizenship an Irish and a Syrian’s"

‎”This is the story of my brother Khaled an Irish/Syrian man in the UAE:

The last week of December 2012 the UAE government agents called Khaled into their offices for questioning. Hours later Khaled went to their offices during the integration they asked about the money he’s being sending to Syria and about his opinion toward the Syrian regime and the uprising. They asked if he would stop his support for the revolution. Khaled said he sends money to his father and he would not stop supporting the revolution. A week later, Khaled booked a ticket to go to Ireland at the airport they stopped him and asked to go back see the security since he was not allow to leave the UAE for some unknown reason. Khaled went to see them again. They told him everything should be okay. However, when Khaled went to the airport a week later with a new reservation attempting to go to Ireland he faced a new allegation that he was no permitted to leave the country either permitted to work anymore and that he is under house arrest for no apparent reason.

On Thursday February 7th 2013 they called Khaled and asked him to come down on Sunday the 10th to their office for questioning and bring down your passports because he’s dual citizenships. At that date Khaled went missing and there is now where to be found. By night fall his brothers went to the police asking about where his about. They told them we don’t know anything about this individual. From Sunday to Tuesday his brothers asked hospitals, airports and police stations no one would know anything about his disappearance. On Tuesday went back in person to the police station to make an official report about his missing brother. Two hours later, the police called Ibrahim –Khaled’s younger brother – and told him that Khaled is in our custody and you need to stop asking and searching. On Thursday, the security agents came to Khaled’s house with Khaled to get some documents and a SIM card as they went to his sister’s house to get more documents belong to Khaled. As Khaled looked up his sister’s yes asking her to pray for him.
There have been a quiet few incidents where the UAE’s security agents arrested many Syrians activists and forced them to sign an agreements stated that they won’t practice activities against the Syrian regime in order to be released. Khaled refused to sign this agreement. Although, Khaled’s and the other young activists only activities against the Syrian regime was over his wall on Facebook.

Until this moment, Khaled still missing, has no right for a lawyer, has not being charged with any crime, nor is he allowed his family to contact him.

Khaled has a dual citizenship an Irish and a Syrian’s”

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