- Established in 1992, the Addameer (Arabic for conscience)
Prisoners Support and Human Rights Association helps Palestinian prisoners,
and works to end torture, arbitrary arrests and detentions, other forms
of abuse, and unjust, unequal treatment in Israel's criminal justice system
that handles Jews one way and Palestinians another.
- In July 2009, in cooperation with the Grassroots Palestinian
Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (Stop the Wall) and the Palestinian Prisoners
Support and Human Rights Association, Addameer published a report titled
"Repression allowed, Resistance denied" that documents resistance
to Israel's apartheid wall and the "staggering level of repression,
arrests and violence" by Israeli authorities.
- On July 9, 2004 in a unanimous decision, the International
Court of Justice (IJC) ruled that "the construction of the Wall being
built by Israel, and its associated regime, are contrary to international
law...." It said construction on it must cease. Built sections must
be dismantled, Palestinian land returned, and compensation paid for property
destroyed. The UN General Assembly endorsed the decision. Israel rejected
it out of hand, keeps seizing Palestinian land, continues the wall's construction,
and ruthlessly suppresses efforts to halt it.
- In defiance of international law, Israel's High Court
ruled that erection of a "barrier" may continue for security
reasons even though its purpose is solely to steal resources and land that
will include over 12% of the West Bank when completed.
- The consequences for Palestinians have been devastating.
Communities have been divided, isolated and ghettoized. Farmers have been
separated from their land and water sources. Militarized control is repressive,
and free movement is more restricted than ever.
- The ICRC called the Wall contrary to international humanitarian
law and repeatedly urged Israel to halt it. Article 2(c) of the Apartheid
Convention says the Wall and checkpoints are key to maintaining apartheid
in the West Bank. Article 2(d) adds that "the Wall and its infrastructure
of gates and permanent checkpoints suggest a (permanent) policy....to divide
the West Bank into racial cantons," and the South African Human Sciences
- "Restrictions on the Palestinian right to freedom
of movement are endemic in the West Bank, stemming from Israel's control
of checkpoints and crossings, impediments created by the Wall and its crossing
points." They constitute an illegal matrix of control affecting all
aspects of Palestinians' lives.
- Popular non-violent, direct action resistance emerged
in self-defense as well as lobbying through the courts and national and
international media campaigns. It was entirely blacked out in the major
- Most visible are weekly demonstrations, protests and
marches involving Palestinians, Israelis, other Jews, and international
human rights activists - in defiance of Israeli military orders that call
these activities and all organized resistance "criminal offenses,"
punishable by arbitrary arrests, targeted killings, brutal repression,
disproportionate violence, and collective punishment in violation of international
law, including Fourth Geneva protections.
- Addameer "provide(s documented) evidence to show
that injuries and deaths inflicted by the Israeli military at protests
and activity surrounding them are intentional, not accidental." Indiscriminate
arrests are made, family members threatened, including children, and many
are tried, convicted, imprisoned, fined, and ruthlessly punished for defending
their rights. Israel wages low intensity warfare against a popular resistance
in a futile effort to break an indomitable spirit, at a cost that includes:
- -- premeditated, systematic punitive attacks and collective
- -- entire communities targeted by state-sponsored terror;
- -- mass arrests, killings, beatings, torture and other
- -- children imprisoned or shot for throwing stones or
being in the wrong place at the wrong time; and
- -- Palestinians victimized by decades of unremitting,
systemic violence and repression, and in Gaza under siege and attack, of
course, it's much worse.
- Addameer's report "is a preliminary summary of (its)
findings, based on (extensive interviews, other primary research, and)
the experiences of a few protagonist villages in the struggle against the
Wall." Follow-up reports are planned to continue documenting the affects
on "a wider number of villages affected by the Wall."
- When completed, it will span over 760 kilometers, be
more than five times longer than the Berlin Wall, and far more imposing
with its sensors, trenches, security roads, mine fields, checkpoints, terminals,
watchtowers, surveillance cameras, electronic sensory devices, and military
patrols using killer dogs.
- Around 20% of the Wall follows the "Green Line."
The rest expropriates over 12% of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and
with the settlements, military zones, and for-Jews only infrastructure
amounts to about 46% of the Territory and growing as Israel keeps seizing
- It displaces thousands of Palestinian families, entraps
all Palestinians in the West Bank, steals their land and resources, and
has nothing to do with security. It's a land grab/collective punishment
scheme to enclose an entire people inside disconnected cantons in violation
of international law and the ICJ ruling.
- Organized Resistance Against the Wall
- After Israel began construction in June 2002, spontaneous
demonstrations, community actions, and meetings followed. The first public
- The Wall represents "the Occupation in its ugliest
face. (It's) stealing....land and water, and....changing....the historical
and demographic status of these areas. (It's) uprooting....trees and (destroys)
nature. (It's) in opposition to all that is human and civilized."
- In October 2002, opposition groups were formed, including
the Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (Stop the Wall) in response
to a need for a coordinated popular resistance and to offer advocacy, research,
legal challenges, and support for the communities affected. Efforts thereafter
grew, and from September 2003 became a national and international priority.
Israel responded with permit restrictions to bar free movement and prevent
people from accessing their lands. Since then, many anti-Wall farmers lost
their livelihoods when they were denied permits to cultivate their own
- Demonstrations, protests and strikes have continued in
targeted West Bank communities and villages. Campaigns not to recognize
the permit system were organized. Israeli forces responded harshly. Time
passed. Crops rotted in fields and livelihoods were destroyed. Yet villagers
resisted despite severe collective punishment imposed. Since then, eight
West Bank popular committees have been represented in the Campaign's General
Assembly, and five of the 11 members of the Campaign's coordinating committee
are representatives from local groups.
- In 2004, anti-Wall resistance became widespread. The
first martyrs were killed in defending their rights. The ICJ ruled the
Wall illegal and ordered its demolition. Increased land theft and human
fallout drew international attention and encouraged mass protests and solidarity
against state-sponsored terror.
- Direct actions blocked bulldozers, breached sections
of fences and razor wire separating villagers from their lands, slowing
construction and forcing constant rebuilding. Media strategies were also
developed through international contacts. In addition, committees held
rallies, demonstrations, and sit-ins to pressure the Palestinian National
Authority (PA) to support affected communities, raise the Wall issue at
an international level, and act to implement the ICJ decision.
- Yet when UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan came to Palestine
in March 2005, he refused to speak out or visit the Wall. Around 5,000
Palestinians demonstrated in protest.
- Since late 2005, popular resistance had to reorganize
for numerous reasons. So much of the Wall was completed that actions to
stop bulldozers ceased. Since international support failed to materialize,
new forms of protest were needed to sustain a long-term struggle. Friday
demonstrations replaced daily ones so a semblance of daily life was possible.
- Yet in areas like Anata in East Jerusalem, daily protests
continued because Wall construction ran straight through school courtyards.
Students were involved and sustained many injuries for their efforts.
- Frustration with the Palestinian leadership also grew
as campaigning for the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) began in late
2005. It heightened the split between Fatah and Hamas because effective
popular resistance was futile without leadership sustaining and capitalizing
- National actions like Land Day, the Week against the
Apartheid Wall, and other events gained prominence. In March 2007, Land
Day activities took place in over 20 locations with popular committees
and students participating. Thereafter, Stop the Wall and popular committees
have been key players in other national action days.
- Resistance solidified and expanded south with new campaigns
against Wall construction. People in the Jordan Valley protested against
being isolated from the rest of the West Bank. Media and civil society
organizations finally noticed, and political and material support began
- Since mid-2008, weekly protests gained strength in a
number of villages - in Bil'in, Al Ma'sara, Irtas, Ni'lin, Jayyus, Nahalin,
and elsewhere with hundreds of people facing down soldiers and risking
arrests, injuries or death.
- In addition, popular committees are focusing on settlements
and renaming themselves "Committees Against the Wall and The Settlements"
because both represent occupation leaving Palestinians dispossessed, walled-in,
ghettoized, and repressed unless organized movements resist.
- The villages of Burqa, Bizzariya, Silat, ad-Dhahr, Sabastiya,
and Beit Imrin led protests against the resettlement of Homesh, a settlement
evacuated during the "disengagement." After a month, Homesh settlers
left with all their belongings.
- Other actions included boycotting Israeli products and
legally challenging companies that support the Wall and occupation. "The
mobilizing capacity of the popular committees and Stop the Wall (have)
become (key) actor(s) at national action days, such as Land Day and the
60 years Nakba Commemoration." During Operation Cast Lead, they sacrificed
two lives in supporting Gazans under attack.
- Movements against the Wall have become a "politically
mature network of activism and resistance" despite escalated repression
- Violent Repression of Palestinian Anti-War Protests
- They're ongoing in dozens of villages, and "immediate
action is require to counter it." In Bil'in, Ni'lin, Al Ma'sara and
Jayyus over 1,566 people have been wounded and six killed while protesting.
IDF actions are vicious and beyond the bounds of "crowd control, security
or self-defense." They involve:
- -- threats to inflict individual and collective punishment;
- -- premeditated shooting with intent to injure, disable,
kill and send a message to other protesters;
- -- night terror raids, curfews, closures, tear-gassing,
and property destruction; and
- -- entire villages targeted with collective punishment,
including mass arrests and unconscionable viciousness.
- A Friends of Freedom and Justice video recounted a recent
- "At around 2:30AM, two groups of around 35 soldiers
(70 total) descended on the village....They raided several houses, detained
their inhabitants, and searched (inside). When members of the ISM and the
Popular Committee of Bi'lin confronted the soldiers, they called all of
Bi'lin a closed military zone and threatened to arrest anyone out of their
house or anyone on top of a house taking pictures."
- "They kidnapped a 16 year old boy (Mohsen Kateb)....and
took him away into the night. Haitham al-Katib, a respected Palestinian
activist....was video taping....when soldiers aggressively pushed him against
a wall and threatened him with arrest.....(the son of) Iyad Burant, the
head of the popular committee, (was threatened) if he didn't produce a
camera...This raid follows on the heels of others that have happened almost
every night for two weeks." Arrests are made and people threatened
because they campaign against the "loss of 60% of (their) farmland
due to the construction of the apartheid wall and the illegal settlements"
that continue to expand.
- Israeli policy focuses on ruthless deterrence to break
popular resistance by inflicting serious harm. Threats are made collectively
and against village officials. Violence is systemically employed. Activists
are threatened, killed or arrested. Live fire is used against peaceful
- One popular committee member said: "once, soldiers
broke into my home and told my mother that if her son did not stop, they
would break his legs and he would never walk again." Others recounted
death threats. Parents are told "we are going to take revenge on you
and on your children." Leaflets are distributed promising "punishment
(and) final warnings" to communities that keep protesting.
- Home demolitions are also threatened. Farmers are told
their land and crops will be destroyed. Force follows, including beatings,
live fire, tear-gassing, willful killings, including against children.
Soldiers justify it as "crowd (or) riot control" and that soldiers
fire only in self-defense.
- In fact, actions are grossly excessive against activists
and peaceful demonstrations, and include ambushes, shootings from rooftops
and concealed locations, and extreme aggression against a civilian population.
At an early 2004 Biddu protest, soldiers unleashed a massive attack, killed
two, injured 70 others, some severely, and caused an elderly man to die
of a tear gas-induced heart attack. Numerous other demonstrations, then
and now, were disproportionately attacked by "massive retaliatory
violence" with dozens killed and thousands more injured throughout
the West Bank. Prominent activists are targeted for removal, willful disabling,
- Illegal weapons are used, including bullets that break
into pieces on contact leaving shrapnel slivers inside bodies that are
very hard or impossible to remove. Besides willful killings, legs are targeted
to inflict disabling injuries, including against children. Head shots are
also used with rubber bullets and tear gas canisters dangerous enough to
cause cranial fractures and permanent memory problems. Ambushes and other
surprise attacks are employed using indiscriminate fire with lethal weapons
unrelated to crowd or riot control.
- Indiscriminate attacks also occur that are passed off
as unfortunate errors, when, in fact, they're deliberate, for revenge,
and "constitute an integral part of" oppressing popular resistance
and right of Palestinians to be free. Innocent civilians are wounded, disabled
or killed in cold blood because soldiers are ordered to do it.
- Collective punishment is systemic and longstanding in
the form of:
- -- night terror raids to intimidate entire communities
and villages; children are especially affected by shooting, explosions,
and shouting through loudspeakers;
- -- harassing curfews on entire villages prohibiting anyone
from leaving homes on threat of being shot or arrested; while in force,
soldiers break into homes, search them, and arrest occupants for interrogations
that include beatings, humiliation and torture;
- -- village closures and sieges are also imposed allowing
no one and nothing in or out; throughout, homes are raided, people tear-gassed,
arrested and shot, and property is destroyed;
- -- besides outdoor tear-gassing, canisters are fired
into homes without pretext, damaging property, human health and causing
fires; a Jayyus resident said:
- "I cannot count how many times they fired tear gas
inside my house....As a result of everything, I had a heart attack, and
have had two operations. My daughter has also been in the hospital."
- -- willful property destruction occurs, including windows,
possessions, and village water tanks; items are also stolen, including
money, computers and books; and
- -- fields are set afire, crops and trees uprooted, and
land effectively destroyed.
- State-Sponsored Repression
- The above incidents show that "death, maiming and
injury resulting from military violence....form a consistent pattern of
repressive violence....Individual and collective punishment are two, complementary
parts of this strategy" that aim to weaken solidarity, create divisions,
and crush the will to resist - to kill it "from the roots."
- Intimidating munitions are used, including:
- -- hollow point bullets that expand in human flesh to
maximize tissue and organ damage;
- -- exploding or fragmenting bullets to tear apart human
flesh and leave hard to remove metal fragments inside;
- -- .22 caliber bullets designed to be less lethal but
more deadly than rubber-coated ones that at times can maim or kill; and
- -- 40 mm high-velocity tear gas rounds that resemble
shells and explode internally for added velocity and impact; when fired
directly at crowds, they're like missiles able to cause serious injuries
- Collective Punishment and Community Blackmailing
- Collective punishment includes threats that it will continue
as long as demonstrations persist. It also aims to divide communities,
families in the interest of their children, hurt economically by destroying
property, deny permits to hamper movement, and break the will to resist.
- Violating Civil and Political Rights
- As explained above, Israel employs a range of repressive
tactics, including threats, physical pressure, curfews, blockades, isolation,
arrests, property destruction, and targeted and indiscriminate killings
on pretexts such as:
- -- stone-throwing;
- -- interfering with soldiers' activities;
- -- resisting arrest;
- -- being in a closed military zone; and
- -- threatening the security of Israel, even though the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) affirms that
assembling and peaceful protests are lawfully protected activities.
- Since 1967, however, over 750,000 Palestinians (as much
as 40% of the male population) have been victimized by systematic arrests,
detentions and brutalizing treatment in custody.
- "Over the years, thousands of Palestinians have
been detained and charged with maintaining ties to an organization, institute,
office, movement, branch, centre, committee, faction, group, or whatever
the law defines as 'a body of persons' branded 'hostile' or 'terrorist'
and included in an ever-expanding list of unlawful associations."
- Israel's Military Court System
- Unlike Israelis, Palestinians are processed, tried, and
sentenced in military courts located inside Israeli military bases. From
the outset, they haven't a chance under a system rigged to convict. Less
than 1% are acquitted. Individual rights are denied. Institutionalized
racism prevails. International human rights laws are defiled, and according
to the UN Human Rights Committee:
- -- a state of emergency never justifies deviation from
fundamental principles of fair trials;
- -- military courts should never be used, except in cases
where civil ones aren't able to function;
- -- when used, military tribunals must afford all protections
guaranteed under ICCPR's Article 14 that stipulates: "All persons
shall be equal before the courts and tribunals....shall be presumed to
be innocent until proved guilty," shall have a fair and impartial
trial, and be granted all rights according to established international
- Israel's military courts defile all of the above and
offer no possibility for justice. Judges are hanging ones. Children as
young as 16 are tried as adults. Secret evidence is used, and the right
to appeal flawed verdicts and sentences is severely compromised.
- Israel targets anyone suspected of resisting as well
as children for the "crime" of assembly, throwing rocks, or having
a family member previously arrested. Popular committee heads are especially
sought as a way to remove leaders and weaken movements. A Bil'in village
head, Iyad Burnat, was arrested twice - in 2005 when he blocked bulldozers
beginning work on a segment of the Wall. He was beaten severely enough
to require hospitalization. Then in 2008, he was arrested again during
a demonstration, tried and fined. Similar incidents occur regularly in
- Youths are frequently targeted because they're among
the staunchest and most proactive demonstrators, yet more vulnerable, less
aware of their rights, and as a way to intimidate parents. At times, military
raids provoke them to react and crack down hard indiscriminately when they
- According to Defence for Children International/Palestine
Section 2009 Annual Report on Palestinian Child Prisoners, when soldiers
clash with youths, they go after "any child in the vicinity, regardless
of whether that child was actually involved in the unrest of not."
During interrogations, they're then subjected to psychological and physical
abuse, just like adults, to extract confessions of whatever authorities
want - "which (most) Palestinian children do not understand."
- During arrests, violence is standard practice. Samed
Mohammad Hassn Salim's experience was typical. On February 18, 2009 in
Jayyus, he and 60 others were arrested for participating in a weekly protest
against the Wall. His pregnant wife was thrown to the ground and later
suffered a miscarriage. A medical report confirmed it resulted from the
fall and sound grenades used in the assault.
- Those in detention face intimidation, humiliation, threats
of recriminations against family members, long interrogations, physical
and psychological torture and abuse, demands to sign confessions and provide
information on other protesters, denial of medical care, poor sanitary
and hygiene conditions, inadequate quantity and poor quality of food and
water, and exposure to the elements.
- According to one detainee: "They always beat you
- that is normal." Another said: "They were beating me. It felt
like they were trying to kill me. They handcuffed me and forced me into
a chair. My neck still hurts from the beatings I received. They were strangling
me. I lost consciousness."
- At times, treatment is severe enough to leave permanent
psychological and/or physical scars. Detainees are forced to sign confessions
in Hebrew they don't understand, confess to crimes, and deny they were
tortured. Nonetheless, one military commander said that for every 1000
detainees, only one will provide information, and even that might prove
- Palestinian human rights activists are generally treated
harshest of all, including severe treatment and longer sentences for resisting
repression and standing up for their rights that include peaceful demonstrations
and displaying the Palestinian flag.
- Israeli, International and Palestinian Protesters: Different
Rights, Different Jurisdiction, Drastically Different Repercussions
- Israel and international activists face far different
treatment under Israel's judicial standards. In detention, they're generally
treated humanely, endure no long interrogations as a rule, most often are
released in a few hours, may or may not face charges, but if so are tried
in civil courts under a completely different system of justice. Acquittals
are more common, fines lower, first offenses forgiven, if sentences are
imposed they're for much shorter periods, and the right of appeal is assured.
- In the first seven months of 2009, 129 Israeli activists
were indicted, 15 convicted, and the majority got suspended sentences or
convictions reversed on appeal. Deportation was how most internationals
were handled. "To date, there have been no reported cases of an Israeli
or international activist serving more than a week in prison, or being
placed in administrative detention," and most are rarely sentenced.
Currently, no international activists are in prison for having participated
in an anti-Wall protest.
- In contrast, Palestinians charged with throwing stones
face up to 20 years in prison although generally they're released within
- Under ICCPR's Article 14, fair, impartial trials are
guaranteed. Under the UN Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment
of Offenders, Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, access to competent
counsel must be granted within 48 hours. Adequate time and facilities must
be available to communicate privately, and if detainees can't afford to
pay, proper representation must be provided anyway.
- Nonetheless, Palestinians are affected by factors such
as counsel's citizenship and residency status, as well as military orders,
Israeli laws and prison procedures that violate international standards,
so their right to fair, impartial justice is impossible.
- Inflated and multiple charges also assure convictions
on at least one offense regardless of the validity of evidence. The result
is less than 1% acquittals as explained above and 97% resolutions by plea
bargain agreements for the most leniency lawyers can get.
- Military tribunal justice is near-impossible when charges
of throwing stones or owning a gun are inflated to "trying to kill"
and prosecutors rely solely on soldiers' testimonies for corroboration.
Lymore Goldstein who's represented a number of Palestinian and Israeli
activists cites Israel's apartheid justice with Jews treated one way and
- "The evidence used against people is never verified,
for instance, all the (Palestinians) who touched the microphone (at a specific
protest) were charged with incitement - there was no mention of what they
had said" or what, in fact, they incited. "This is a very typical
example," but for Jews it's entirely opposite. Even when Palestinians
can prove their innocence, acquittals are rarely gotten.
- Attorney Sahar Francis expressed frustration saying:
- "I'm against the military courts. Let the occupiers
do this job for themselves. Why should lawyers go there and try to do things
when we know at the beginning" how things will turn out.
- From their time of arrest, Palestinians have almost no
chance to prevail under a system of kangaroo court justice, so it's why
up to 12,000 languish in Israeli prisons at any time and endure torture
and other dehumanizing treatment.
- Mohammed Brijiah, from Al Ma'sara described his arrest
and trial ordeal:
- "Three times during the night, they came and attacked
my house, took out my brothers and nieces....and my children, including
my 1-year-old daughter. They made my family stand outside for 3 - 4 hours.
They damaged the furniture, told me to get dressed and that they would
take me to prison. I was arrested twice (in November 2007 and December
2008). They brought me to a court and then released me....I stayed one
week, but the arrest was because of the demonstration. (Another) accusation
was that I beat a soldier, but (video evidence) clearly shows that I did
nothing like this."
- Prosecutors did all they could to extend his detention
and brought up baseless old charges to delay his trial hearing. Brijiah
was luckier than most others who disappear for months or years in Israel's
criminal justice system that affords none of it to Palestinians. No bail,
long sentences, high fines, and brutalizing treatment are common, nearly
always in violation of international law. For example, under Military Order
378, stone throwing carries a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment,
and the threshold of evidence to convict on mere suspicion is low enough
- Former soldier, now writer and journalist Seth Freedman
says it's common for the military to select targets, regardless of whether
they're committing the act in question. Then it's their word against defendants,
nearly always they prevail, and many innocent youths are imprisoned for
offenses they didn't commit but have no way to prove it. They can't prove
- Nor can they defend against threats that serve as "a
powerful coercive means of intimidating - and harassing - protestors."
In detention, death or physical harm threats are made during interrogations.
Also making them against family members is commonplace as a way to induce
- Further, collective punishment, mass arrests, and various
forms of intimidation are repeated throughout the West Bank. They comprise
ways "to punish anyone exercising their right to self-determination
and resistance. Their impact will be manifold, affecting family's livelihoods,
freedom of movement, as well as their rights to express themselves and
- Israeli authorities act in violation of the fundamental
right to assemble, demonstrate, and protest peacefully. Violent and aggressive
measures are used repeatedly in violation of international law. Palestinian
activists risk arrest, interrogation, long detentions, kangaroo trials,
imprisonment, torture and other forms of abuse. Nonetheless, they persist,
and according to one interviewee:
- "The army has created a lot of obstacles but it
hasn't prevented the protests." Those arrested do it again, at times
more cautiously, but others with a determination to prevail.
- The entire judicial process is racially biased and blatantly
discriminatory. Indiscriminate arrests are made. Demonstrators are intimidated
and targeted. Popular committee leaders and youths are most vulnerable.
State terror is common practice, and in detention humiliation, torture
and other abuses are employed for extended periods - to break their spirit,
crush their will to resist, make them docile and submissive, or simply
give up and leave. For over four decades under occupation, Palestinians,
on their own, have continued their struggle to live freely on their own
land, in their own country as international law affirms.
- -- on July 20, 2004, the ICJ ruled the Wall illegal and
called for its demolition; the UN General Assembly endorsed the decision;
it's time for the UN "to follow through on its mandate to develop
relevant measures to ensure the implementation of the ICJ decision;"
- -- Israel should be pressured by targeted sanctions,
including an arms embargo;
- -- the UN Human Rights Council and Special Rapporteur
for Human Rights should address these issues;
- -- the international community should: