Lecturer at An-Najah University
Date of Arrest:
Megiddo Prison and Detention Center
Name: Dr. Mohammad Azzam Subhi Husni Ghazal
Date of Birth: 1 March 1957
Marital Status: Married with 5 children
Education: PhD in Civil Engineering (soil mechanics)
Profession: Lecturer at An-Najah University
Date of Arrest: 15 June 2014
Legal Status: Administrative Detainee
On 13 June 2014, the Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) raided Dr. Ghazal’s house in Nablus at 2 AM. His wife and two daughters were held in a room for two hours, while Dr. Ghazal was taken to a separate room and interrogated for one and a half hours. Then, the IOF ransacked the house and destroyed much of its contents. They left without making any arrests.
Two days later, at 1:30 AM on 15 June 2014, the IOF raided Dr. Ghazal’s house again, this time using explosives devices to blast open the door. The IOF demanded Dr. Ghazal’s identification and informed him that they had an arrest order for him.
Dr. Ghazal was first taken to the illegal Israeli settlement Shavi Shamron near Jenin and then transferred to Huwwara Detention Center. The medical examiner at Huwwara Detention Center refused to examine Dr. Ghazal or treat him because of his health complications. He was taken to Megiddo Prison about 24 hours after his arrest. During this period, Dr. Ghazal did not receive any kind of treatment or medicine, despite his requests for medicine for his high blood pressure. Eventually, 48 hours after his arrest, he was examined and given the treatment and medicine that he required.
Dr. Ghazal was immediately subjected to interrogation at Salem Interrogation Center for approximately one hour where he was not given any clear charges or specific accusations. Two days later he received a three-month administrative detention order. On 14 September 2014, the date that Dr. Ghazal should have been released, his administrative detention order was renewed for an additional three months.
This is not Dr. Ghazal’s first arrest. He was previously arrested on 25 September 2005 and put under administrative detention for 16 months. He was charged and sentenced for 22 months after his final administrative detention order and subsequently released in 2007.
On 7 December 2011, Dr. Ghazal was again arrested and put under administrative detention for 23 months. He was released on 6 November 2013. Only seven months later he was arrested again on 15 June 2014, which is his current arrest and administrative detention.
Dr. Ghazal has also been subjected to political arrest by the Palestinian Authority. Between 2009 and 2011, he was arrested four times by the Palestinian Preventive Security Forces and the Palestinian Intelligence. According to his wife’s testimony, Dr. Ghazal was interrogated about the charges and reasons for his arrests by the IOF, as well as his political activities and affiliation. The most difficult PA arrest for his family was in 2009 when he was kidnapped by unknown armed men and taken to an unknown location. The family had to ask the Nablus Governorate to interfere for his release.
Ofer Military Court held a hearing to confirm Dr. Ghazal’s administrative detention in his absence on 19 June 2014. Dr. Ghazal boycotted his hearing in protest of his re-arrest and administrative detention but the military judge regarded this as his waiver of the right to attend his trial and held the hearing regardless.
In the hearing, the military prosecution accused Dr. Ghazal of being a participant in activities with Hamas, as well as having relationships with members of the organization. They also claimed that he has an impact on his community. Despite the fact that Dr. Ghazal denied all of the accusations, the prosecution claimed that the charges were based on factual and trusted sources. These claims were made against Dr. Ghazal based on secret information that the prosecution refused to reveal to the defense.
The prosecution also included the incident of the three Israeli settlers that went missing on 12 June, who were found dead later in the month. According to the prosecution, the kidnappers were affiliated with the military wing of Hamas in Hebron and therefore, Dr. Ghazal needed to be under administrative detention because of the threat he imposes on the security of the area, as well as to avoid any danger he might impose in the future. The use of this incident as evidence against Dr. Ghazal reveals the use of administrative detention not only as a form of arbitrary arrest but also as collective punishment.
The judge stated that from the information provided to him, he could conclude that Dr. Ghazal imposed a threat on the security of the area and confirmed the administrative detention order. The order expired on 14 September 2014, but he was issued with another 3-month renewal on the same day.
Dr. Ghazal’s arrest is part of the mass arrest campaign against Hamas after the disappearance of three settlers in June 2014. The arrest campaign also targeted academics and Palestinian Legislative Council members. Based on the arguments of the Israeli prosecution, Dr. Ghazal was arrested because he is a well-known and influential figure which also confirms his detention with an aim to suppress his opinions and to punish him. Furthermore, the continued renewal of his administrative detention without any substantial judicial review confirms that military judicial system functions as a façade for the occupation’s “secret” intelligence.
Dr. Ghazal started his academic career over 30 years ago as a lecturer at An-Najah University, and aided in the founding of the Civil Engineering Department. In 1985, he enrolled at Pennsylvania State University where he gained his PhD in soil mechanics. In 1992, Dr. Ghazal returned to Palestine and resumed his position at An-Najah University. He has written several academic research papers in the civil engineering field and participated in a multitude of international conferences. However, in 1998, the Israeli authorities imposed an international travel ban on Dr. Ghazal that has greatly hindered the development of his professional and academic life. The ban is still in effect today.
Dr. Ghazal suffers from several illnesses including diabetes, high blood pressure and spinal disc problems that were all aggravated after his first detention. He is unable to sit or stand for long hours and requires special care and treatment for his illnesses. The Israeli Prison Service (IPS) does not take his special needs into consideration during his transfers or in daily prison life.
According to Dr. Ghazal’s wife, his health condition was so bad when he was released from prison in 2007 that he was unable to walk or move. In his past detention, he was found deficient in B12 and iron and developed high blood pressure. Dr. Ghazal also suffers from knee problems after a cartilage implant surgery and sensitive nerves that cause severe skin redness. Doctors have advised him to avoid hot and humid climates, but in most Israeli detention centers humidity is a persistent problem that intensifies in the summer.
Dr. Ghazal has suffered from extensive ill-treatment in his previous arrests. During his second arrest, he was being transported to Ofer Military Court for an administrative detention confirmation hearing. Due to medical negligence, Dr. Ghazal was too weak and fainted immediately upon arrival. The IOF soldiers did not assist him but instead insisted that he stand up. When he could not, they aggressively dragged him to the court waiting room which caused him deep bruising. Dr. Ghazal sued the authorities that were on duty for the incident.
Dr. Ghazal has four daughters and one son. According to his wife, the family suffers from great difficulties while he has been in detention. During his second arrest, his son continuously delayed the wedding in hopes that his father would be released and be able to attend the festive occasion. Due to the continued administrative detention renewals, his son eventually married in the absence of his father. As a result of frequent arrests, Dr. Ghazal has been unable to participate in numerous family occasions including the births of his grandchildren, weddings and other important events.
His family is currently denied visitation rights for “security reasons.” The denial of family visits is another facet of the collective punishment imposed on prisoners after the disappearance of the three settlers in June and the latest attacks on Gaza.
Administrative detention is a procedure that allows the Israeli military to hold detainees indefinitely on secret information without charging them or allowing them to stand trial. In the occupied Palestinian West Bank, the Israeli army is authorized to issue administrative detention orders against Palestinian civilians on the basis of Military Order 1651. This order empowers military commanders to detain an individual for up to six month renewable periods if they have “reasonable grounds to presume that the security of the area or public security require the detention.” On or just before the expiry date, the detention order is frequently renewed. This process can be continued indefinitely.
For more information about administrative detention and Addameer’s Campaign to Stop Administrative Detention see: http://stopadcampaign.com
*Write to the Israeli government, military and legal authorities and demand that Dr. Mohammad Ghazal be released immediately.
• Brigadier General Danny Efroni
Military Judge Advocate General
6 David Elazar Street
Harkiya, Tel Aviv
Fax: +972 3 608 0366; +972 3 569 4526
• Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon
OC Central Command Nehemia Base, Central Command
Neveh Yaacov, Jerusalem
Fax: +972 2 530 5741
• Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak
Ministry of Defense
37 Kaplan Street, Hakirya
Tel Aviv 61909, Israel
Fax: +972 3 691 6940 / 696 2757
• Col. Eli Bar On
Legal Advisor of Judea and Samaria PO Box 5
Beth El 90631
Fax: +972 2 9977326
*Write to your own elected representatives urging them to pressure Israel to release Dr. Mohammad Ghazal and to put an end to such an unjust, arbitrary and cruel system of incarceration without trial.