Today, this Palestinian writer, along with his 20 year-old twin sons, Bilal and Hilal, decided to quit smoking as long as Hanaa Shalabi is on a hunger strike. We also plan to use the money that would have been spent buying cigarettes [$15 a day] to help defray the cost of Hanaa’s legal expenses. Hanaa is the same age as my only daughter, Nadia [28 years old] and incidently, has the same name as my wife.
Hanaa Shalabi is a Palestinian female political prisoner from the village of Burgin near Jenin. She was kidnapped from her home on on Feb. 16, 2012 by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) in the middle of the night. Her family was ordered outside the house, she was blindfolded and handcuffed. All cell phones and computers in the house were confiscated and a photograph of her brother hanging on the wall, who was killed by IOF in 2005, was torn up and stepped upon by one of the soldiers. Hanaa was also beaten and sexually harassed by the IOF.
Her attorney stated, “She is demanding the end of administrative detention and that the soldiers who beat her up and undressed her to carry out a body search be put on trial.”
Administrative detention is a procedure that allows the Israeli military to hold prisoners indefinitely on secret evidence without charging them or allowing them to stand trial.
Hanaa was ordered to serve administrative detention for six months in the HaSharon prison. As of this writing, Hanaa has entered her 13th day of an open-ended hunger strike and is currently being held in solitary confinement. Latest reports indicate that Israeli prison officials have moved her to a different prison to cut off any contact with the outside world.
Ironically, this young lady has been in administrative detention before, totaling 2 1/2 years starting in March, 2009 where she served for 6 consecutive terms. Hanaa was among the freed Palestinian prisoners who were released in October 2011 under the prisoner exchange deal between Hamas and Israel. However, this time Israel has reneged and rearrested her as it did in previous prisoner exchange deals. In November 1983, Palestinian prisoner Ziad Abu Ain was supposed to be part of a prisoner release deal, but was taken off the bus containing those who were about to be released.
I’ll never never forgive Israel nor forget that prisoners exchange deal of Thanksgiving Day 1983. My younger brother Samih was among the freed prisoners, after spending 18 months in an Israeli concentration camp in south Lebanon. He was kidnapped by IOF while visiting our family with his German wife and 5 year-old daughter,Carmen. Throughout his captivity, neither our mother, his wife, Carmen or our oldest brother were permitted to visit him, even though he was being held merely 20 miles away.
While lobbying in the US to secure his release, Israeli officials first denied holding him, then they admitted he was in Ansar prison camp, held on terrorism charges. When I refuted their false allegation, I was told he has committed a crime in Germany. However, after German officials denied this false claim, the Israeli Attorney General arrogantly stated on public record that under Israeli law, Israel can prosecute people for committing a crime in different countries. This is clearly a flagrant violation of international law and the sovereignty of Germany.
According to Aldemeer, there are 25 members of the Palestine National Council, including the Speaker of the Parliament, who are among 5,000 Palestinians held captive in Israeli dungeons. This includes 6 women, 166 children and 320 “administrative detainees.” According to Palestinian prisoner solidarity sites, over 20,000 administrative detention orders were issued since 2000 by the Israeli occupation authority. On February 24, 2012, the 320 Palestinian administrative detainees held captive without charge or trial declared a boycott of Israeli military courts. This boycott is to start on March 1 in protest of these sham courts that are used by the Israeli occupation army and Israeli intelligence as a cover for illegal detention based on “secret” files and lack of indictment.
One week after Hanaa’s kidnapping, her 67 year-old parents started an open-ended hunger stirke in a tent set up in front of the family home in support of their their daughter’s struggle for freedom and in protest of her illegal detention. Her father, Yahya Shalabi, promised that they will continue the hunger-strike until the release of their daughter and the abolishment of administrative detention.
Hanaa Shalabi and her parents put themselves against overwhelming odds. They have the moral courage to challenge Israel’s injustice no matter what. This is a dignified family with deep conviction who are standing firm and tall beyond anyone’s expectation. I know from experience that Israel does respond when its image and reputation is on the line. Therefore, I urge every one who reads this to help in anyway then can to expose Israeli injustice. if not by deeds, by praying in your heart that Hanaa Shalabi will be set free and for the end of Administrative Detention.