Protesters supporting hunger striker Hana Shalabi (Photo: Alternative Information Center)
Today Hana Shalabi entered her 16th day of hunger strike against Israeli administrative detention. This is Shalabi’s second round of administrative detention; she was held without charge from 2009-2011 in Israeli administrative detention. Last October Shalabi was released through a prisoner exchange between Israel and Hamas.
Wednesday, the hunger striker was scheduled to see a judge at Ofer Military Court. However, Shalibi and her attorney were banned; the hearing took place without Shalabi, and the judge ruled to postpone a decision on the hunger striker’s release. The next hearing is set for March 3, 2011, when an Israeli intelligence official will be present. Neither Shalabi nor her attorney is permitted to attend the hearing.
Hana Yahya Shalabi is 30 years old and is one of nine children. Before her arrest she was living with her parents, who are also on hunger strike, in a village near Jenin. Shalabi’s parents began their hunger strike on 23 February.
In addition to family and legal support, Shalabi’s case is somewhat of an internet cause, akin to Khader Adnan, who is also in Israeli administrative detention. Adnan recently ended a 66-day hunger strike and gained international recognition through a Twitter campaign calling for his release.
Yesterday, Palestinians and solidarity activists tweeted with the hashtag #HanaVsIsrael15Days, in order to build awareness for Shalabi and Israel’s practice of administrative detention. The hashtag trended globally around 2pm EST.
Screen shot from March 3, 2012 12pm.
Shalabi was first placed in administrative detention following a September 2009 arrest. The prisoner legal rights group Addameer describes the late night raid:
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.
According to Addameer, Shalabi was questioned from “10:00 a.m. until the late evening hours,” while in solitary confinement. Her six square meter cell contained no windows or sunlight. On one occasion, after refusing to confess, Israeli soldiers harassed her. From Addameer:
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 over Shalabi’s treatment, which was promptly dismissed due to “lack of evidence.”
Rearrested political prisoner
The night of Shalabi’s re-arrest approximately 50 Israeli soldiers with dogs raided her family’s home. Addameer again chronicled the arrest:
The IOF [Israeli Occupation Forces] then proceeded to brutally threaten and abuse Hana and her family. First, Hana’s brother heard the intelligence officer say, ‘Hana must die.’ Next, one of the soldiers grabbed her hand and pulled her. Hana objected and told him that if they needed to hold her, they should bring a female soldier to do it. He completely disregarded her and when she tried to remove his hand, he began to beat her upper body and slap her in the face. Hana’s brother, Omar, attempted to jump in front of her to protect her, but the soldiers attacked him and beat him with their guns. A female soldier was then brought to detain her. Hana was blindfolded and put in a military jeep, where she was made to sit on the ground on her knees.
Shalabi is the fifth Palestinian re-arrested from the October 2011 political prisoner exchange between Israeli and Hamas. The deal stipulated the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and about a thousand Palestinians political prisoners. A first round of 477 Palestinians, including Shalabi, were released in October. By December, Israel had arrested an additional 470 Palestinians. Speaking to Ma’an News, Addameer confirms:
‘This wave of arrests reveals that the exchange deal has not deterred Israel’s policy of detention of Palestinians; rather, Israeli prisons are being refilled with almost the exact number of Palestinians that were released in October.’
Furthermore, Ma’an reports, this week alone, another four prisoners also released in the October 18 exchange were rearrested. Two of the men are currently still in Israeli custody. Shalabi’s case and the other re-arrests shed light onto an overall increase in administrative detainees despite the publicized prisoners exchange.