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The arrest of Nariman - report from Jenin


The arrest of Nariman - report from Jenin

The Arrest of Nariman

[Old City, JENIN] I am in the family home of Nariman Mohammed Sadiq Hasses, a 21 year old woman from Jenin's old city. The public room is filled with her female relatives and friends. They sit in a circle wrapped in blankets, some have been weeping. The atmosphere is subdued expect for the smiles and outreached hands of the three small children who wander in and out. Yesterday at 3.30am this house was invaded by Israeli soldiers who seized and arrested Nariman. The people in the room are still absorbing the shock of this intrusion and the unexpected absence of a daughter, sister and friend.

Nariman's mother describes what happened. Her anguish clear from her voice even before her words are translated. The household had been awoken just before 3.30 am yesterday by the sound of loud banging on their neighbours door. She had looked from her first floor window to see what was happening and had seen that there were soldiers attempting to break into the next door house. Seeing her looking from the window the soldiers then started to attempt to breakdown the door to her own home, she responded by shouting "wait a minute, I will open it". The soldiers continued to beat at the door. Her daughter Nariman went downstairs to open it. As she did so soldiers flooded the house, seizing Nariman and detaining her outside the house. Her mother describes how her son's children screamed and wept in terror as soldiers searched the house shouting "Keep quiet, keep quiet" their guns directed at herself and her relatives.

The family, 4 children, 4 woman and 1 man were ordered outside and forced to stand in the rain as soldiers made their way through the home. Unlike previous raids on house in Jenin there was no damage to the house and no property was taken. The soldiers then announced that they were arresting Nariman. Her mother recounts that she begged the soldiers for an explanation as to why her daughter was being arrested, they refused to say. She begged her daughter for an explanation but Nariman insisted that she had no idea as to why she was being taken away. Next she tried to persuade the soldiers to let her go with her daughter, they refused. Nariman's brother Aiman asked to accompany his sister and finally they relented, agreeing that he could accompany his sister. The family was also allowed to give Nariman some additional clothes and shoes after she had been out in the rain for over an hour. After this the force of around 40 soldiers drove of in their armoured jeeps.

The women in the room nod in encouragement and support as she speaks. We are joined by her son, Aiman who accompanied Nariman for the first few hours of her arrest. He takes up the story. They were first taken to the nearby military base of Dotan before traveling to base and prison at Salem at the northern tip of the West Bank. Here she was shackled and had a hood placed over her head. Aiman looks angry and perhaps ashamed as he describes his inability to stop this humiliation of his sister. He tried to intervene but was held back by soldiers. Nariman was then taken away, the soldiers informing Aiman that she was being transferred to Jalamah interrogation centre near Haifa. Our translator interjects "that is a bad place". Since then the family have heard no more. All they know is that she has been taken away for interrogation by the Israeli intelligence service, the Shabak. They have no idea how long this process will take. They have no idea of what treatment she will receive. They have no idea what she is accused of. They have no idea when next they will be able to communicate with her. They have no idea when next they will see her again. Above of all they have no idea why she was taken in the first place. Her mother states that her daughter was not politically active though she was a social activist working with the Union of Psychology and Social Work Associations and volunteering with the Palestinian Ministry of Social Affairs. Nariman did not feel at threat of arrest, "would she have opened the door if she had a fear of being taken away?" her mother asks.

Just before I leave Nariman's mother says that she blames herself for her daughters arrest, "if only I had not looked out of the window, maybe they would have passed this house."

A local journalist tells me later that around 80 people have been arrested in the Jenin area in the past month. Amongst them ordinary men and woman, TV journalists, community activists, politicians as well as members of armed Palestinian resistance groups. For every arrest, a home is violated by soldiers and a family left shocked and uncertain as to their relatives fate. The prisoners should not expect due process or a fair hearing. They may be interrogated within a system where "moderate physical pressure" is legal, torture commonplace and defendants have no right to see the evidence that is presented against them in the military tribunal that tries them. Each one faces the possibility of extended periods of imprisonment under the Israeli policy of administrative detention (imprisonment without charge). No one in Nariman's family knows what will happen. They are aware of Israeli's record when it comes to the treatment of prisoners. They can only hope that Nariman escapes the worst that her captors are capable of. They can only hope that she will be home soon.

Amnesty Internationals 2003 Report on Israel and the Occupied Territories states: Mass arrests, detention and torture or ill-treatment of Palestinians

The IDF arrested thousands of Palestinians, including hundreds of minors, throughout the Occupied Territories. Most were released without charge and many without having been questioned. Ill-treatment was widespread during arrest and interrogation, and there were numerous reports of torture in detention. Detainees reported various forms of torture and ill-treatment, including beatings, being handcuffed and tied in uncomfortable positions for prolonged periods, threats to the detainee and their relatives, and sleep deprivation. At least one detainee died in custody after he was beaten.

More than 1,900 of those arrested were held in administrative detention for up to one year. They were not charged with any offence and were held on the basis of "secret evidence", which neither they nor their lawyers were allowed to see or to challenge in court. Around 1,000 other people who were arrested were charged with involvement in attacks against Israelis and more than 3,800 were tried by military courts in trials that fell short of international fair trial standards.

Most Palestinian detainees were not allowed to receive visits from their relatives, even when, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross, the relatives fulfilled the necessary security requirements." http://web.amnesty.org/report2003/Isr-summary-eng

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