FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Arbitrary Imprisonment

by SAM BAHOUR And PAUL De ROOIJ

Last week armed Israeli policemen entered the East Jerusalem YMCA offices and arrested Haytham Hammouri, a YMCA staff member. He was handcuffed and taken into police custody. No charges were made, and he was kept incommunicado for three days. At this point, he was able to see a lawyer, taken in front of an Israeli court, and sentenced to six months “administrative detention” in an Israeli prison. No charges were made against him, and there has been no trial. Haytham joins more than 12,000 Palestinians in a similar situation, but may be the only Palestinian resident of Jerusalem held under this arbitrary pretext.

Haytham Hammouri is a YMCA staff member working on community projects. The YMCA has taken an increasingly important role providing basic services to the community. The YMCA runs rehabilitation centers where the tens of thousands of Palestinians wounded during the previous and current intifada are treated, given support, and offered rehabilitation. Rehabilitation isn’t just a matter of teaching the youngsters to walk with crutches, or to implant prostheses; it is crucially also an economic issue. Most of the wounded people are manual laborers, and therefore the loss of one of their limbs or mobility is a major blow to their chances to become economically independent. The rehabilitation offered by the YMCA therefore also entails teaching the victims skills that will reintroduce them productively into society.

The YMCA differs from the organizations found in other countries, where it is synonymous with a sports club or cheap hotel. In the Occupied Territories, it has taken on an additional role to deliver essential services, and Haytham was involved in the organization of such services. Thousands of Palestinians depend on key services organized by the YMCA, and therefore Haytham’s imprisonment on no charges, for an undetermined duration (initially six months, but this can be extended arbitrarily), without trial or appeal, in a prison far away from his family is grotesque.

We in the “West” only hear about the bloody aspects of the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, and in fact, the reporting from that area stops when there is no bloodshed. However, the pernicious aspects of occupation–the attempt to make life unbearable for the grand majority of Palestinians–continue unabated even when there is “a period of calm.” The most recent Israeli tactic is to atomize Palestinian society even further. After effectively crippling the official Palestinian “authority”, now we witness further attempts to imprison all actual and potential leadership who work at the grassroots level. Thus, Haytham, who provides essential services to the population and is in no way involved in violence, has been arrested–his crucial leadership is thwarted making life more difficult for many. This is the intended effect of the perniciously named “administrative detention,” in reality this is arbitrary imprisonment without charges or trial, for arbitrary terms that can be extended at will by the Israeli “judge” (these can’t even spell habeas corpus), with limited access to legal representation, and served in prisons far away from their families. This practice abrogates all the rules that we take for granted in the “West”, however, the news we usually obtain from the area seldom mentions the Kafkaesque situation Palestinian leaders find themselves in. If Bush were really concerned about democratizing Palestinian society, then he may want to ask his frequent visitor, Ariel “man of peace” Sharon, why a person like Haytham Hammouri is imprisoned.

Despite the terrible situation Haytham finds himself in, he is “lucky” on two counts. First, he hasn’t been tortured (yet)–a common practice, and something that isn’t legally proscribed in Israel. Second, he is in a relatively decent prison in Netanya; other prisoners aren’t so lucky, and end up in what can only be called a concentration camp, the new Ansar camp in the Negev desert. This is a jungle of barbed wire where prisoners are kept in tents on top of an asphalt tarmac. Prisoners are rotated and moved between jails often to prevent the formation of social bonds, and break the spirits of the prisoners.

Despite all American claims about democracy, justice, and a special way of life, it is astonishing to see that they overlook the denial of those very rights elsewhere. Democracy and justice are crushed under an Israeli boot subsidized to the tune of untold billions of US money without a peep from the “lovers of freedom”. The US bears direct responsibility for the brutalization of Palestinian society; you my American friend, have a lot to answer for.

What you can do: Please print out a poster about Haytham Hammouri’s situation, and please post it everywhere you can. Please get every YMCA around the world to campaign for Haytham’s release. The poster (in PDF format) can be found at: www.indymedia.org.il/imc/israel/webcast/40046.html.

More about Haytham Hammouri: He is married to Malak Masri and they have three daughters aged 4, 8, and 14; they live in Jerusalem. One of the consequences of Haytham’s imprisonment is the havoc caused to his family–the main breadwinner has been imprisoned, and his close relationship with his children has been cut. The YMCA also has been denied one of its most effective organizers. After learning of his six-month sentence, his 8-year-old daughter wrote her dad a letter that the Israeli prison authorities haven’t allowed to be delivered.

Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American businessman living in the besieged Palestinian City of Al-Bireh in the West Bank. He is co-author of HOMELAND: Oral Histories of Palestine and Palestinians (1994). He can be reached at sbahour@palnet.com.

Paul de Rooij is an economist who lives in London. He can be reached at jproo@btconnect.com

 

PAUL de ROOIJ is a writer living in London. He can be reached at proox@hotmail.com (NB: all emails with attachments will be automatically deleted.)

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

February 21, 2017
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Finance as Warfare: the IMF Lent to Greece Knowing It Could Never Pay Back Debt
CJ Hopkins
Goose-stepping Our Way Toward Pink Revolution
John Wight
Firestarter: the Unwelcome Return of Tony Blair
Roger Harris
Lenin Wins: Pink Tide Surges in Ecuador…For Now
Shepherd Bliss
Japanese American Internment Remembered, as Trump Rounds Up Immigrants
Boris Kagarlitsky
Trump and the Contradictions of Capitalism
Robert Fisk
The Perils of Trump Addiction
Deepak Tripathi
Theresa May: Walking the Kingdom Down a Dark Alley
Sarah Anderson
To Save Main Street, Tax Wall Street
Howard Lisnoff
Those Who Plan and Enjoy Murder
Franklin Lamb
The Life and Death Struggle of the Children of Syria
Binoy Kampmark
A Tale of Two Realities: Trump and Israel
Kim C. Domenico
Body and Soul: Becoming Men & Women in a Post-Gender Age
Mel Gurtov
Trump, Europe, and Chaos
Stephen Cooper
Steinbeck’s Road Map For Resisting Donald Trump
February 20, 2017
Bruce E. Levine
Humiliation Porn: Trump’s Gift to His Faithful…and Now the Blowback
Melvin Goodman
“Wag the Dog,” Revisited
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima: a Lurking Global Catastrophe?
David Smith-Ferri
Resistance and Resolve in Russia: Memorial HRC
Kenneth Surin
Global India?
Norman Pollack
Fascistization Crashing Down: Driving the Cleaver into Social Welfare
Patrick Cockburn
Trump v. the Media: a Fight to the Death
Susan Babbitt
Shooting Arrows at Heaven: Why is There Debate About Battle Imagery in Health?
Matt Peppe
New York Times Openly Promotes Formal Apartheid Regime By Israel
David Swanson
Understanding Robert E. Lee Supporters
Michael Brenner
The Narcissism of Donald Trump
Martin Billheimer
Capital of Pain
Thomas Knapp
Florida’s Shenanigans Make a Great Case for (Re-)Separation of Ballot and State
Jordan Flaherty
Best Films of 2016: Black Excellence Versus White Mediocrity
Weekend Edition
February 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
David Price
Rogue Elephant Rising: The CIA as Kingslayer
Matthew Stevenson
Is Trump the Worst President Ever?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Flynn?
John Wight
Brexit and Trump: Why Right is Not the New Left
Diana Johnstone
France: Another Ghastly Presidential Election Campaign; the Deep State Rises to the Surface
Neve Gordon
Trump’s One-State Option
Roger Harris
Emperor Trump Has No Clothes: Time to Organize!
Joan Roelofs
What Else is Wrong with Globalization
Andrew Levine
Why Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban?
Mike Whitney
Blood in the Water: the Trump Revolution Ends in a Whimper
Vijay Prashad
Trump, Turmoil and Resistance
Ron Jacobs
U.S. Imperial War Personified
David Swanson
Can the Climate Survive Adherence to War and Partisanship?
Andre Vltchek
Governor of Jakarta: Get Re-elected or Die!
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Destruction of Mosul
Norman Pollack
Self-Devouring Reaction: Governmental Impasse
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail