“The Israeli occupation targets every Palestinian who talks about Palestine and works for Palestine. The occupation targets the trees, and the stones, so it‘s no wonder that they target every person who defends human rights and the rights of the Palestinian people. They don‘t hesitate to do such things. What they are doing, forcing the Palestinians out of the lands where they were born, violates all international laws and treaties.” —Fuad Al-Khuffash, 2008
Date of birth: 11 June 1975
Occupation: Journalist and director of Ahrar Center for Prisoners’ Studies and Human Rights
Place of residence: Marda, Nablus
Marital Status: Married with three children
Date of arrest: 28 June 2011
Place of detention: Megiddo
Sentence: 10 months
Date of release: 8 April 2012
Fuad Al-Khuffash is a human rights defender who spent 10 months in Israeli prison prior to his release on 8 April 2012. Fuad is the director of Ahrar Center for Prisoners’ studies and Human Rights, the Palestinian representative for Al Karama Association, which works to ensure the protection of human rights, and a field researcher for Friends of Humanity International, a human rights organization based in Vienna. He has also worked as a journalist, writing extensively on human rights issues, and specifically on political prisoners and administrative detention.
Fuad was arrested from his home on 28 June 2011. At 3:00 in the morning, Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) exploded the door of his apartment. Due to the use of a sound suppressor, Fuad did not hear the explosion and instead woke suddenly to the presence of 20 soldiers inside his bedroom. When the soldiers prevented Fuad and his wife from putting on decent clothes, an argument ensued between the soldiers and his family. The soldiers then tied Fuad’s hands behind his back with a plastic rope, threw him to the ground, and shackled his feet with iron shackles. Fuad refused to walk with shackles, so the soldiers blindfolded him and carried him out of his home.
Fuad was then transferred in a military jeep, where he was made to sit on the floor throughout the ride. This position caused him extreme pain because of the shackles, and he threatened to file a complaint against the soldiers. He was taken to Huwwara interrogation center, but was forced to wait on the floor of the jeep, still shackled and blindfolded. The soldiers refused to let him use the bathroom or drink water, even though he asked repeatedly. After waiting for three hours, Fuad was brought inside. He was asked about his health condition, but not given any medical examination. He was not permitted to use the bathroom until 8:00 am.
Fuad spent six days at Huwwara interrogation center, where he experienced difficult conditions. Though the summer heat was at its height, the tiny rooms have no fans or ventilation. In addition, Fuad reported that the quantity and quality of the food was very poor, and that the daily roll call was degrading, where prisoners are forced to sit on the ground with their hands behind their backs more than three times each day.
After six days, Fuad was transferred to Salem interrogation center by Nahshon forces, a special escort and intervention unit of the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) known to be extremely brutal in its treatment of prisoners. During the transfer, Fuad’s hands and legs were shackled, and he was put in a closed iron box for five hours, from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm. He was also photographed, fingerprinted, and forced to give a DNA sample.
Throughout his interrogation, Fuad was accused of encouraging others to work with the Change and Reform bloc of Hamas in 2006, which he vehemently denied. Fuad asserted that he is solely an activist for human rights, which has nothing to do with politics. His interrogator responded that those comments did not mean anything to him. He told Fuad to confess to the accusations or he would face administrative detention.
On 5 July, Fuad was given a six-month administrative detention order, set to expire on 25 December 2011. As with all other administrative detainees, Fuad’s detention was based on secret information collected by the Israeli Security Agency (ISA), available to the military judge reviewing his detention orders but not to Fuad or his lawyer.
At the same time that Fuad received an administrative detention order, an indictment was also issued against him, which charged him with managing the elections campaign of the Change and Reform bloc. Fuad’s administrative detention order and simultaneous indictment reveal a clear misuse of administrative detention according to international humanitarian law. While international humanitarian law does allow an Occupying Power to use administrative detention, it can only do so under explicit and exceptional circumstances. Article 78 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 gives an Occupying Power the authority to take safety measures concerning protected persons, including internment, only for “imperative reasons of security” and not as a means of punishment. Due to the accusations made against Fuad, however, it is clear that his administrative detention was a form of punishment for an alleged past offense. It can also be inferred that his administrative detention order was issued as a form of insurance of his detention if there was not enough evidence for the official charges against him, showing a pre-determination of intent to find him guilty.
On 27 October 2011, the indictment was approved in Salem military court. Fuad’s administrative detention order was cancelled and he was sentenced to spend 10 months in prison.
Fuad has been targeted for arrest by both Israeli and Palestinian authorities throughout his life. After being arrested more than three times before the Second Intifada, Fuad spent 12 months in administrative detention in 2003. On 26 January 2006, Fuad was re-arrested by Israeli authorities and given a six-month administrative detention order. However, his lawyer filed an appeal, and his detention was reduced to four months. He was released on 26 May 2006.
Fuad has also been arrested on more than one occasion by the Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces. The most recent arrest was in 2008, where he spent six months in prison without charge or trial. Even though he received multiple release orders from the Palestinian High Court of Justice, the PA security forces refused to implement the orders.
Fuad and his wife, Rana, have three children, ages 7, 6, and 3 years old. Rana has been forbidden from visiting Fuad in prison since his arrest in June. During his previous detentions, she was able to visit him only twice in 2003, and then was prohibited due to “security reasons.” Fuad’s sisters have also been denied permits to visit him based on “security reasons.” Fuad’s mother and two older children, Nathem and Tuqa, are able to visit him twice a month.
“Human rights defenders” are formally defined as persons who work peacefully for any or all of the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Fuad clearly falls within the category, in that his activities are peaceful in nature and aimed at the promotion of human rights.
Addameer views Fuad’s imprisonment as a deliberate violation of his fundamental freedoms and special protections provided under international law for human rights defenders, particularly freedoms of movement, expression, association and peaceful assembly.
Here is how you can help Fuad Al-Khuffash:
Write to the Israeli government, military and legal authorities and demand that Fuad Al-Khuffash be released immediately, and that Israeli security authorities immediately cease their unlawful arrest and detention policies of Palestinian human rights defenders.
Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister, Office of the Prime Minister, 3 KaplanStreet, PO Box 187, Kiryat Ben-Gurion, Jerusalem 91919. Fax: +972.2.651.2631/2.670.5475, E-mail: [email protected], [email protected]
Mr. Yehuda Weinstein, Attorney General, 29 Salah al-Din St., Jerusalem, 91010. Tel: +972.2.646.6521/2, Fax: +972.2.646.7001
Mr. Ehud Barak, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, Ministry of Defense, 37 Kaplan Street, Hakirya, Tel Aviv 61909, Israel. Fax: +972.3.691.6940, Email: [email protected]
Mr. Avigdor Lieberman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 9 Yitzhak Rabin Boulevard, Kiryat Ben-Gurion, Jerusalem 91035. Fax: +972.2.628.7757/ +972.2.628.8618/ +972.2.530.3367. Email: [email protected]
Mr. Yaakov Ne’eman, Minister of Justice, Ministry of Justice, 29 Salah al-Din Street, Jerusalem 91010. Fax: +972.2.628.7757/ +972.2.628.8618/ +972.2.530.3367. Email: [email protected], [email protected]
Ambassador Aharon Leshno-Yaar, Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations in Geneva, Avenue de la Paix 1-3, CH-1202, Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41.22.716.0555 E-mail: [email protected]
Maj. Gen. Avi Mizrahi, OC Central Command Nehemia Base, Central Command, Neveh Yaacov, Jerusalam. Fax: +972 2 530 5741
Write to your own elected and diplomatic representatives urging them to pressure Israel to release Fuad Al-Khuffash and to put an end to the ongoing harassment against Palestinian human rights defenders. Contact details for international embassies and consulates in Israel are available at: http://www.embassiesabroad.com/embassies-in/Israel.