“We thought that his release after 8 years was going to be a chance for us to gather as a family and be together, but unfortunately this last detention has destroyed our hopes and dreams.” —Mohammad’s wife
Date of birth: 25 February 1958
Place of residence: Hebron
Occupation: Palestinian Legislative Council member, former teacher in the Association of University Teachers
Marital status: Married with four children
Date of arrest: 31 January 2011
Number of administrative detention orders to date: 5
Expected end of current detention order: 27 January 2013
Place of detention: Megiddo
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Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member Mohammad Al-Natsheh was arrested on 31 January 2011, when Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) stormed his home in the middle of the night. Soldiers fired a sound bomb at the door before entering his house and waking him. Mohammad was then arrested and taken away. This arrest came only four months after Mohammad was released from an eight-and-a-half-year sentence in Israeli prison.
Mohammad was subsequently placed in administrative detention. As with all other administrative detainees, Mohammad’s detention is based on secret information collected by Israeli authorities and available to the military judge but not to the detainee or his lawyer. This practice violates international human rights law, which permits some limited use of administrative detention in emergency situations, but requires that the authorities follow basic rules for detention, including a fair hearing at which the detainee can challenge the reasons for his or her detention. These minimum rules of due process have been clearly violated in Mohammad’s case, leaving him without any legitimate means to defend himself. His current six-month administrative detention order is set to expire on 27 January 2013. Throughout his life, Mohammad has spent a total of 4.5 years in administrative detention.
During his current detention, Mohammad fell while playing morning sports and hit his head on the ground. Though the injury began to cause him problems, the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) refused to send him to the hospital. He was finally allowed a hospital visit three months later, when he found out that he was suffering from a blood clot in his head and required immediate surgery.
Mohammad began an open-ended hunger strike on 17 April, as part of the mass hunger strike demanding an end to punitive measures taken against prisoners, including the prolonged use of isolation, denial of family visits, and denial of access to education.
Mohammad has been targeted for arrest since 1988, when he was first arrested. Following that arrest, he was repeatedly re-arrested and spent varying amounts of time in detention, including a six-month period under administrative detention. To date, the total amount of time he has spent in Israeli prison is 13 years. In addition, on 5 October 1998, Mohammad was detained by the Palestinian Authority and spent one year in prison. He was subsequently forced to remain under house arrest in Ramallah for about three years.
On 17 July 2002, Mohammad was once again arrested by the IOF and sentenced to 8 and a half years in prison. During this period, he spent four years in isolation. He was released from isolation and from prison on 12 September 2010.
CONDITIONS UNDER ISOLATION
Four years into his sentence, the IPS placed Mohammad in isolation in July 2006. His isolation followed the capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in June 2006, when Israeli authorities carried out mass arrests and punishment of leaders associated with the Change and Reform bloc. Mohammad had won the elections to the PLC in Hebron just a few months prior, in January 2006.
He remained in isolation for over four years, until his release in September 2010. Throughout this period, he was transferred between multiple prisons, though the conditions of his isolation were similar in each prison. Mohammad was denied any social interaction, as family visits and connections with other detainees were forbidden. He was also denied the ability to exercise.
During a visit with his lawyer, Mohammad described the conditions of his isolation: “I am detained in a 2.5 by 2.5 meter room, which also includes the bathroom. I am detained in this room for 23 hours a day and I can only go out for a break for one hour. The break is spent in a small 4 by 3 meter yard. Part of the yard has a ceiling, which prevents sunlight from entering all day. Even the room’s window is very narrow, so no sunlight can enter the room. It takes four months for letters to be delivered to my family or for me to receive letters from them.”
Mohammad and his wife got married in 1985. In 25 years of marriage, they lived together under the same roof for only eight disconnected years due to his continuous arrests. Mohammad received a Bachelor’s degree in Islamic Law from the University of Jordan. While he was studying for his Master’s degree, Israeli authorities forbade him from traveling to discuss his thesis in Pakistan. He later worked as a teacher in the Association of University Teachers for ten years. In 1992, Mohammad was banished to Marj Zuhur, Lebanon for nine months by the Israeli authorities as part of a mass deportation of Hamas-affiliated Palestinians. Before he was detained, Mohammad enjoyed many hobbies, including swimming and horseback riding.He and his wife have four children, ranging from 17 to 24 years old, two of whom got married while their father was in prison. His third son celebrated his engagement during the four months that his father was released.
In response to his most recent arrest, his wife described the difficult effects his detention has had on their entire family. She said that the detention came as an utter shock and has left behind a chaotic situation in the family. She noted the amount of things they had hoped to accomplish and issues to resolve once he was released, which they were barely able to complete at all. In her own words: “Then all of a sudden he was detained again—he didn’t even have the chance to take care of his health during these months. Our children are so distressed. We thought that his release after 8 years was going to be a chance for us to gather as a family and be together, but unfortunately this last detention has destroyed our hopes and dreams.”
Mohammad’s family is currently not permitted to visit him in prison. During his previous detentions, family visits were also irregular. He was completely denied family visits from 2006-2010, during his isolation. Prior to 2006, his wife and two of his children were allowed to visit him, but his children that were older than 16 were denied permits to visit.
Administrative detention is a procedure that allows the Israeli military to hold detainees indefinitely on secret evidence 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 on administrative detention, read Addameer’s report on administrative detention:
Here is how you can help Mohammad Al-Natsheh:
Write to the Israeli government, military and legal authorities and demand that Mohammad Al-Natsheh be released immediately and that his administrative detention not be renewed.
- Brigadier General Danny Efroni
Military Judge Advocate General
6 David Elazar Street
Harkiya, Tel Aviv
Fax: +972 3 608 0366; +972 3 569 4526
Email: [email protected]; [email protected]
- Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon
OC Central Command Nehemia Base, Central Command
Neveh Yaacov, Jerusalam
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 Mohammad Al-Natsheh and to put an end to such an unjust, arbitrary and cruel system of incarceration without trial.