Kelly's Detention and Tom Hurndall's Case
Kelly's Detention and Tom Hurndall's Case
1. Update on Kelly in Tsochar Prison, Negev Desert
2. Secret Prison in Israel: Hiding the Whereabouts of Detained Persons is odious to Democratic principles; Hamoked
3. Soldier Who Shot Briton Admits Lying: The Guardian
4. Speaking Truth to Power: Testimony at the Tom Hurndall Trial __________________________________________
1. Update on Kelly in Tsohar Prison, Negev Desert
Kelly has been imprisoned for over a week now. She can no longer be contacted by phone, however we are managing to relay messages to her. This statement was received earlier today.
Kelly Bornshlegel Tuesday December 21st 2004, Tsohar Prison, Negev Desert
Today marks the seventh day of my illegal imprisonment in Israeli jails. During this week I have been moved 3 times: most recently to Tsohar prison, 10 km from the Gaza Strip. I have been interrogated by the Ministry of the Interior, Police, Shabak and finally a 'judge', employed full-time at the deportation prison. Repeatedly I asked for my charges, my rights, and access to a lawyer but each time I was met with a blank stare.
The kindness and strength of the women I have met in this prison system continues to amaze me. In a situation of dehumanization where we are called 'Mongolia', 'China', 'usa' instead of our names, where an only female prison is run only by male guards, where those same guards burst into our cells at any hour of day without knocking, where our cells have no doors to the shower or the rooms where we change, each the woman goes out of her way to help the others cope and survive.
All of these women are immigrants, some recent while others have lived here for more than 10 years. Many of the women have husbands, boyfriends and children still in israel. They are treated as criminals, despite having worked and contributed to Israeli society for years.
Every mundane detail of our lives is controlled by the male prison guards. Many of the women here are extremely vulnerable, not speaking Hebrew, far from their homes, dependent on guards for everything. The prison administration appears to turn a blind eye to widespread abuse as individual prison guards take advantage of their captives, many of whom have been previously raped and smuggled into Israel as sex- slaves.
This process of dehumanization by viewing someone as 'other' when convenient to justify the injustices being perpetrated is the same technique employed against the Palestinians. Soldiers at checkpoints and demonstrations, Border Police invading Balata Camp and shooting 6 year-old children, Israelis knowing what is happening to Palestinians living a half hour from their homes but choosing to ignore it - all can live with themselves at the end of the day only because Palestinians have no names or faces; they are animals, a nuisance that needs to be pushed away.
I am refusing to co-operate with the deportation administration, as I was arrested in Occupied Palestine while attending a local demonstration on the invitation of local Palestinians. The Israeli occupation is unjust and illegal; therefore I refuse to acknowledge the jurisdiction of the Israeli court system over the West Bank and Gaza. Furthermore, the Israeli 'judicial system' was designed and functions not to provide justice but to legitimize and obscure oppression.
To send messages of support to Kelly please email email@example.com . For updates please phone ++972 59737118. I am trying to get a working phone to Kelly again.
also see www.balatacamp.net/~balata/website/balata.htm www.notesfrompalestine.net and www.indymdia.org for updates on Kelly's situation.
in struggle, mika
2. Hiding the Whereabouts of Detained Persons is odious to Democratic principles: HaMoked
Secret Prison: On December 15, 2004, the High Court of Justice is debating HaMoked's petition against the existence of a secret detention facility, located in a secret military base, used for the interrogation of suspects
HaMoked claims in its brief presented on December 12th that the basic fact that an unknown site exists is a serious violation of Israeli law, humanitarian law.
The secrecy surrounding the facility and the lack of appropriate external supervision expose the detainees to the risk of torture. Even the ICRC is prevented from entering the site. This is an especially fragile situation when taking into consideration the profile of the detainees: foreign citizens interrogated for security reasons. These individuals are especially in danger as they are perceived by the soldiers as the "other", the "enemy." In addition they are torn out of their homelands and in position of extreme vulnerability.
Transparency, openness and external supervision by independent bodies are the known and tried tools to overcome the threat of torture.
In practice, under the hood of secrecy, the facility served as the site of extreme torture, including physical abuse and sexual denigration. Detainees are held in conditions of extreme sensory deprivation, extended isolation, and without access to sanitary facilities, etc. According to one report, the facility also served as the site of enforced disappearance for an extended period of at least one foreign citizen.
Even without this physical torture, hiding the site of the detention facility may be considered cruel and inhumane towards the detainees and their families. Hiding the site of detention deprives both the detainee and his relatives of a piece of certainty, so much needed at a time when the arrest and detention disrupt all other elements of certainty and security in life.
HaMoked's petition includes: http://www.hamoked.org.il/items/2160_eng.pdf a psychiatric expert opinion which indicates that damage to physical orientation, to the ability to determine one's place and surrounding, serves the needs of the interrogating authorities to break down the spirit of the detainee.
HaMoked requests that the Court limit the authorities to those tools the law authorizes them to use for maintaining secrecy, forbid the use of a secret facility, and order the authorities to hold detainees only in facilities legally declared and acknowledged. HaMoked notes in its brief that the State's claims are not based on any provision of the law, which might allow for a certain exception, which would under circumstances determined by law. On the contrary: the State relies on the general provisions of the law pertaining to each and every detainee in Israel, adds to these an artificial interpretation and claims that this is enough to permit holding any individual in a secret military facility whose site cannot be conveyed. The power to hide the site of detention of an individual is odious to democratic values and is a step down the slope to dictatorship.
The site described is a military facility serving to hold detainees. For many years the State hid the very existence of such a facility. According to the State, for many years it served for interrogation of foreign nationals suspected of security violations. Three years ago, and for a two year period, the State used the facility to hold residents of the Occupied Territories. As the result of petitions by HaMoked demanding to be informed of the whereabouts and the fate of a number of individuals, the existence of the facility was revealed. Yet the State continues to hide its location and to refer to it by the code name "1391."
According to unconfirmed publications, the facility is located close to Kibbutz Barkai. The State claims that there is no other secret facility, but at the same time refuses to answer the query whether the "facility" is centralized in one physical site or whether the code name hides a collection of such secret facilities.
The current petition was filed in 2003 and an order nisi issued in December 2003. In addition, at the same hearing on December 15, the Court will hear the petition of MK Zehava Galon that she be allowed to visit the facility.
3. Soldier who shot Briton admits lying: Israeli on trial for manslaughter says peace activist was unarmed
By Chris McGreal in Jerusalem
The Guardian - December 16, 2004 http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/Story/0,2763,1374851,00.html
The Israeli soldier on trial for killing the British peace activist Tom Hurndall in the Gaza Strip has admitted he was lying when he said his victim was carrying a gun, but said he was under orders to open fire even on unarmed people.
Sergeant Idier Wahid Taysir is charged with manslaughter for shooting Mr Hurndall, 22, as he tried to shelter children on the edge of Rafah from Israeli army gunfire in April last year. He died of his injuries in January.
The sergeant told the military court that after shooting Mr Hurndall he had reported it to his commander.
"I told him that I did what I'm supposed to; anyone who enters a firing zone must be taken out. [The commander] always says this," he said.
The army has already been accused of carrying out an unwritten policy of shooting unarmed civilians who enter a closed security zone in Rafah, which led to the killing of a 13-year-old girl.
Sgt Taysir told the army investigators he had opened fire at Mr Hurndall because the Briton was on the edge of the security zone, carrying a weapon and wearing camouflage clothing.
In fact, he had not entered the closed zone, had no gun and was wearing a bright orange jacket.
The prosecutor asked the sergeant if Mr Hurndall had a weapon.
Sgt Taysir replied: "No. That's the truth."
"So you gave a false report to the company commander?" the prosecutor asked.
"I did not give a false report. He might have had a weapon under his clothing. People fire freely there. The [Israeli army] fires freely in Rafah."
The prosecutor continued: "But you told him that you saw a weapon?"
"So you lied?"
"I said it."
The prosecutor then asked: "After that, you also reported that the man fired in the air and at you, right? Why did you report that he fired at you?"
The sergeant replied: "Because I had already fired without getting approval [from the company commander]. Everything was under pressure and a result of fear. They tell us all the time to fire; that there is approval. All the troops [in Rafah] fire without approval at anyone who crosses a red line."
Sgt Taysir has also been charged with obstruction of justice.
He told the court that he did not know details of the army's rules of engagement. "I don't know them. No one ever explained anything to me about these documents."
The military investigation initially cleared Sgt Taysir but was reopened under pressure from Mr Hurndall's family and the Foreign Office after the army's account of the shooting was shown to be false.
Mr Hurndall's mother, Jocelyn, welcomed the soldier's testimony, saying it confirmed the family's belief that Sgt Taysir was not a rogue element but operating under a military policy that permitted the shooting of unarmed civilians.
"We remain extremely concerned about the culture in which the soldier was functioning," she said. "It seems from what he's said that he was following orders, that he was doing what he was told to do and what other soldiers are told to do."
But Mrs Hurndall said that it was difficult to discover exactly what the orders were, because the court sessions on the rules of engagement were held in secret. "The problem is we don't have access to the closed-door sessions at which the rules of engagement are discussed," she said.
"The Israelis say it is because we are beyond their jurisdiction and not governed by their secrecy laws. They know we will speak out publicly and they can't prosecute us."
4. Speaking Truth to Power By Joe Carr
December 20, 2004
John (my CPT support person) and I were late to the courthouse because we missed the bus stop. I asked about four Israelis if it was the right one and none would answer me. Finally, someone told us it was the stop we just passed, so we got off and walked back about two kilometers.
The trial prosecuting the soldier accused of killing Tom Hurndall took place inside a military compound, with everyone in uniform. The court's character is indicated by its emblem: a Star of David in the middle of a sword, out of which extend the scales of justice. "Can justice be combined with religion and violence?" I thought.
As I took my place at the witness stand, I looked into the eyes of the three old, skeptical military judges, probably officers who've killed their fair share of civilians. The defense (civilian professional lawyers) sat a table to my right, and the prosecution, (baby-faced soldiers with no law degrees) sat to my left. The two sides faced each other, and it felt like a high school debate tournament.
The prosecutors weren't much older than me, they had zitty faces and looked like they'd rather be playing video games. The young blond male prosecutor sat and said nothing, while a fiery young female indignantly objected and argued to the judge.
The vast majority of my three-hour testimony was not me talking, but translation and arguing in Hebrew. The prosecution would object to one of the defenses questions before it had been translated to me, so I never even got to know what some of the questions were.
They primarily asked me about the location, as I understand there are some geographic discrepancies in the confessions the defendant signed. I avoided sounding totally positive, especially with the unclear aerial photographs. The prosecution made sure there was clearly a line-of-site between the tower and the location where Tom was shot. This I was sure of, and reiterated the fact that the soldier had been shooting at children before Tom even moved into the area. I feel confident that I didn't help the defenses' case much, but I think I did provide important (and even crucial) facts to the story.
Guilty or not, I am troubled by the idea of prosecuting one man for following a military policy that originates as high up as Sharon and the U.S. Towards the end, the judge attempted to convince me to give them contact information for other witnesses and I refused. He asked, "Don't you want to help find the truth about an event in which your friend was shot?" I almost told him what I thought about the Israeli "justice" system. I've seen Israelis do a lot of nasty things and never get prosecuted, and I believe this soldier would also go free had it not been for British diplomatic pressure and the fact that he's an Israeli Bedouin. "If he was Jewish, he never would be on trial" my Palestinian friend remarked. The soldier being prosecuted for emptying his gun into the 7-year-old girl in Rafah is a Druze; it seems that Israel is trying to make it seem that only its Arab population is violent.
All in all, it was a good
experience. It was emotionally difficult to revisit the
event in such detail and especially hard to look at
pictures. But I kept breathing and tried to not let the
images sink in; I shouldn't have to re-do my trauma
therapy. I stood my ground and did not let them intimidate
or bully me. In the face of power, I spoke the truth, and I
was not afraid.