Palestinian writer interrogated by Palestinian forces and subsequently arrested by Israeli military 24MAr13 March 24, 2013

Al Haq    -    14 March 2013

Al-haq-Danish-AwardAwrd-300x173Last week, Al-Haq documented the arrest of Thamer ‘Abd-al-Ghani Saba’na, 37, by the Israeli army. Thamer is a Palestinian activist, writer and science teacher in a primary school in Qabatiya village (Jenin governorate). Thamer is one of the brothers of Muhammad ‘Abd-al-Ghani Saba’na, the Palestinian cartoonist who was arrested for the first time by the Israeli military on 16 February 2013, at the ‘Allenby’ crossing point on his way back from Jordan. A few days after his brother’s arrest, the Palestinian Preventive Security and Palestinian General Intelligence interrogated Thamer, accusing him of affiliation with Hamas and questioning him about a book he wrote on Palestinian prisoners detained in Israeli jails.

Thamer ‘Abd-al-Ghani Saba’na – Qabatiya village, Jenin governorate

On 19 February, Thamer was summoned to the Palestinian Preventive Security Forces’ headquarters in Jenin. Thamer arrived at 10:00 am and, after having waited for three hours, he was interrogated about a strike that the teachers of his school took part in. When the interrogator alleged that the strike was organised by Hamas, Thamer explained that the strike was launched as a result of the failure to pay the teachers’ salaries. The interrogator then ordered Thamer to declare that he would not take part in future strikes, but Thamer refused. At that point, the interrogator threatened to keep Thamer’s ID and detain him at the Palestinian Preventive Security’s headquarters if he participated in any other strikes. Thamer continued to refuse the interrogator’s demand and was released at approximately 3:00 pm. Following his release, he immediately informed the teachers’ union at the school where he works about the incident.

On 24 February, the Palestinian General Intelligence summoned Thamer to its headquarters in Jenin. Between 10:00 and 5:00 pm, Thamer was continuously interrogated about the book he wrote on Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and his appearance on a TV programme discussing the issue. In addition, the interrogator alleged that the book proved Thamer’s affiliation with Hamas. Thamer denied the allegations and declared that the sole aim of his book was to highlight the severe conditions endured by all Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody. At the end of the interrogation, Thamer was released.

Four days later, on 28 February, Thamer received a phone call from the Palestinian General Intelligence in Jenin, ordering him to report to the General Intelligence’s headquarters in Ramallah on 2 March. At approximately 10:00 am on the day of the summons, Thamer arrived at the headquarters and was subsequently questioned by two interrogators about raising funds for Palestinian prisoners and again accused of being affiliated with Hamas. As Thamer denied the allegations, the interrogators threatened that they would detain and transfer him to the Palestinian General Intelligence headquarters in Jericho. Before releasing Thamer at 3:00 pm, the interrogators ordered him to come back to the same headquarters on 9 March. The interrogators added that that if, by the next summons, Thamer did not confess that he raised money for the prisoners, he would certainly be transferred to the Palestinian General Intelligence headquarters in Jericho. (Al-Haq Affidavit 8418/2013)

On 6 March at approximately 2:00 am, a military patrol of some ten Israeli soldiers arrived at Thamer’s home in Qabatiya village. After bursting into the house and searching it, the soldiers arrested Thamer and seized his mobile phone and computer. At approximately 3:30 am, the soldiers forced Thamer into a military jeep and withdrew from the village. Since the arrest, Fatma Muhammad Saba’na, Thamer’s wife, 30, has received no information about her husband’s condition under detention. (Al-Haq Affidavit 8417/2013)

At the time of writing, Thamer and his brother Muhammad are being detained in the Israeli prisons of Megiddo and Ofer respectively, with no charges against them. Furthermore, they are still subject to interrogation. Their relatives are extremely concerned about the lives of Muhammad and Thamer due to the severe interrogation techniques to which Palestinian detainees are subjected in Israeli prisons. They are particularly worried in light of the recent death of ‘Arafat Jaradat, a Palestinian prisoner, who died on 18 February as a result of torture while under interrogation in Israeli custody.

Al-Haq urges the Israeli authorities to inform Thamer and Muhammad of the charges against them and, if no charges are brought, to immediately release them. Al-Haq also calls upon the Palestinian forces to refrain from arbitrarily arresting and detaining Palestinian civilians.

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