At 1:00 a.m. Monday morning, Israeli forces entered ‘autonomous’ Area A and arrested Ayman Nasser, a researcher at Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association. Two soldiers held Nasser’s wife at gunpoint while other soldiers searched the house the couple shares with their four children, who range in age from three to 13.
Nasser is currently being held at a detention facility in Jerusalem. Addameer says that the his arrest represents Israel’s “latest attempt… to target not only Addameer as an organization advocating for Palestinian prisoner’s rights but also the targeting of Palestinian civil society in general.”
Since 1991, Nasser has spent six years in Israeli prisons.
Addameer has been instrumental in publicizing the conditions Palestinian political prisoners face in Israeli jails. Many of these prisoners are in administrative detention without trial. While international law permits administrative detention under very specific circumstances, the Israeli NGO B’Tselem points out that:
According to international law, administrative detention can be used only in the most exceptional cases, as the last means available for preventing danger that cannot be thwarted by less harmful means.
Israel’s use of administrative detention blatantly violates these restrictions. It is carried out under the thick cover of privilege, which denies detainees the possibility of mounting a proper defense. Over the years, Israel has administratively detained thousands of Palestinian for prolonged periods of time, without prosecuting them, without informing them of the charges against them, and without allowing them or their attorneys to study the evidence, making a mockery of the protections specified in Israeli and international law to protect the right to liberty and due process, the right of defendants to state their case, and the presumption of innocence.
A number of Palestinian prisoners have gone on hunger strikes to protest Israel’s use of administrative detention; the hunger strikes have generated international media attention, shining a light on Israel’s questionable treatment of Palestinian prisoners.
Addameer offers legal council to prisoners, monitors conditions, and advocates for prisoners. The organization says that it is under increasing pressure from the Israeli authorities.
Ayman’s arrest comes not long after Addameer Chairperson Abdullatif Ghaith was banned from entering the West Bank and from travelling abroad. In, addition, numerous Addameer staff members have been banned from travelling freely within the OPT and abroad, which has had significant implications on the ability of Addameer to carry out it work in support of Palestinian prisoners and their families.