Hana Shalabi

Hana is one of nine children in a family of farmers in Burqin village, next to Jenin. On 29 September 2005, Hana’s brother Samer was killed by Israeli forces during an incursion in the village. He had been released from prison for only three months after spending nine months in prison when a group of soldiers came to their farm to re-arrest him and instead shot and killed him and his close friend.

After being released from prison on 18 October, Hana planned to study nursing at Al-Rawda College in Nablus. As she was re-arrested less than four months later, she did not have time to enroll.

Prior to her first arrest by the Israeli authorities, Hana was arrested and held by the Palestinian intelligence forces for a week in 2009 for the purpose of interrogation. During this period, Hana was permitted to sleep at home and was kept in detention from 9:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. each day.

PREVIOUS ARREST AND DETENTION

Hana was first arrested by Israeli authorities from her family home on 14 September 2009. At approximately 1:30 a.m. that morning, Israeli soldiers in 12 military jeeps surrounded her house in Burqin village. The soldiers ordered Hana’s entire family outside of the house and demanded Hana give them her identity card. They then proceeded to conduct a thorough search of the family’s home. During the search, one of the soldiers forcibly removed framed pictures of Hana’s brother Samer, who was killed by the Israeli army in 2005, tore them apart and walked over the pieces in front of the entire family. The soldiers then started shouting and cursing at Hana and her family members. When Hana’s father attempted to intervene and protect his daughter from continued verbal abuse, one Israeli soldier pushed him in the chest with the butt of a rifle. Clearly distressed, Hana’s mother fainted at this scene. The soldiers then handcuffed Hana in painfully tight shackles around her wrists and placed her under arrest.

Hana was then transferred by military jeep to Salem Detention Center. During the transfer, Hana’s abaya, a traditional Muslim religious dress covering the entire body worn by women over home clothes, came open, uncovering her clothes and parts of her body. Some of the male soldiers accompanying her in the jeep took pictures of her at this point, consciously exploiting her situation, knowing she would feel offended and humiliated by such photos. Upon arrival to Salem Detention Center, a doctor gave Hana a quick physical examination. Immediately after the examination, Hana was transferred to Kishon Detention Center inside Israel where her interrogation formally began.

Solitary confinement and abuse

Hana was held in solitary confinement at Kishon Detention Center for eight consecutive days, in a cell measuring six square meters that contained no windows or natural sunlight. The cell contained only a mattress and a bathroom, and was reportedly very dirty. Hana was subjected to exhausting interrogation sessions every day, which lasted from 10:00 a.m. until the late evening hours. The lack of natural sunlight during this period caused her to lose all sense of time and she was often unable to determine whether it was night or day. As this period of isolation and disorientation coincided with the holy month of Ramadan, Hana was unable to monitor time in order to respect her fast. As a result, she decided not to eat at all, refusing meals and drinking water only during the entire eight day period.

Hana was also subjected to sexual harassment and physical violence during her interrogation. Hana told Addameer attorney Safa Abdo of an incident that occurred at end of an interrogation session, in which she did not confess to committing a crime, as her interrogators had expected. In a move that Addameer contends was an effort to provoke Hana, one of the Israeli interrogators called Hana “habibti” (Arabic for “darling”) in a provocative manner. Feeling humiliated and angry at the interrogator’s offensive use of an intimate term, Hana started shouting at him. The interrogators responded by slapping her on her face and beating her on her arms and hands. The guards then took her back to her cell where they tied her to the bed frame and continued humiliating her by taking pictures of her laying in that position.

Addameer filed a complaint regarding these violations and only received a reply two years later from the district prosecution in Haifa that they were closing the file for “lack of evidence,” without informing her lawyers what process had taken place to investigate the complaint. Most complaints of this kind are similarly closed due to the unclear claim of “lack of evidence,” showing a consistent policy that they are not taken seriously by the Israeli courts. Addameer is greatly concerned by the deliberate verbal abuse Israeli detaining authorities display towards Palestinian female prisoners by directing sexual threats towards them and using inappropriate, vulgar language.

Administrative detention

After Hana’s interrogation period concluded, she remained in Kishon Detention Center for nine additional days, which Israeli authorities claimed were necessary for the purpose of investigation.

On 29 September 2009, Israeli Military Commander Ilan Malka issued a six-month administrative detention order against Hana on the premise that she posed a threat to the “security of the area”. The order was set to expire on 28 March 2010. At the judicial review of the order, which took place on 5 October 2009 at the Court of Administrative Detainees in Ofer Military Base, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, military judge Ilan Nun confirmed the order for the entire six month period, but agreed to count the two weeks Hana had already been detained towards her detention period. In his decision, Nun alleged that, based on the “secret information” made available to him by the military prosecution, Hana was intending to carry out a “terrorist attack”. The judge further claimed that Hana had already undertaken initial steps in preparation for the attack, though he provided no proof to support this allegation.

Addameer contends that the judge’s decision raised serious questions and fair trial issues. Seventeen days of investigation by the Israeli Security Agency, including eight days of consecutive interrogation did not prove the suspicions against Hana and no evidence of the alleged “intention” was brought before the court. Moreover, at no point did the court establish Hana’s affiliation with a Palestinian political party or armed group, nor did it establish whether Hana planned to carry out the alleged attack by herself or in partnership with anyone else. Additionally, the nature of a possible partnership was never investigated. Importantly, all suspicions directed towards Hana remained vague and general, leaving her without any legitimate means to defend herself. Although administrative detention orders issued by the Israeli military commander are the subject of review and further appeal by a military court, neither lawyers nor detainees are permitted to see the “secret information” used as a basis for the detention orders, rendering any possible legal defense meaningless.

Hana’s attorneys filed an appeal against her administrative detention order, but the appeal was refused and Hana’s order remained set until 13 March 2010. This was subsequently extended for six months. On 12 September 2010, Hana’s administrative detention order was extended for an additional six month period. In March 2011, her order was again renewed, and in July 2011 it was renewed for a fourth time, due to expire on 9 November 2011.

Hana was released from prison on 18 October 2011, as part of the prisoner exchange deal concluded by the Israeli government and Hamas, whereby 1,027 Palestinian political prisoners were released in exchange for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Though her administrative detention order at the time was set to expire less than a month later, it remains unclear whether or not her order would have been renewed an additional time.

Detention conditions

Prior to her transfer to HaSharon Prison, Hana spent a total of 17 days in Kishon Detention Center, where she was not once given a change of clean clothes. Hana continued to be detained in interrogation-like conditions for three days after her administrative detention order was issued. On 1 October 2009, she was eventually transferred to Section 2 of HaSharon Prison, where, allegedly due to overcrowding in the section where Palestinian female prisoners are detained, she was placed in the same section as Israeli females detained for criminal offenses. This placement was a direct violation of Israeli Prison Service Regulations, which stipulate that administrative detainees are to be held separately from all other detainees and prisoners, including those who have been convicted of a crime. Moreover, while detained in the same sections as Israeli criminal offenders, Palestinian female prisoners are almost always discriminated against, enjoy fewer recreation hours and are often subjected to humiliation and abusive language from Israeli prisoners, who threaten them of physical attack. As a result, Palestinian women live in constant fear and often experience insomnia, and other psychological problems for the entire time they are detained in the same sections with Israeli women.

Addameer attorney Safa Abdo filed a complaint with the HaSharon Prison administration regarding Hana’s detention conditions. On 25 October 2009, after being held for 25 days among Israeli criminal offenders, Hana was finally moved to Section 12 of HaSharon Prison with the other Palestinian female prisoners and detainees.

Hana remained held in Section 12 of HaSharon Prison, one of Israel’s largest facilities, together with approximately 18 other Palestinian female prisoners before being released. The building which now constitutes the prison complex served as the headquarters of the British Mounted Police during the British Mandate in Palestine and, as such, was never designed for the incarceration of women. As a result, Hana suffered from the harsh detention conditions and complained of overcrowding, humidity, lack of natural sunlight and adequate ventilation, as well as poor hygiene standards.

  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: