ICAHD adds its voice to the calls of Palestinian, Israeli and international civil society organizations demanding the immediate release of Ameer Makhoul, the General Director of Ittijah and President of the Popular Committee for the Defense of Political Freedoms, who was abducted from his home in a midnight raid of the security service and held incommunicado for days after.
Makhoulis arrest is but the latest in a string of arrests on vague charges, all of them accompanied by severe violations of the fundamental rights of habeas corpus and due process, and of gag order imposed upon (and unfortunately respected by) the press. The repression, night-time raids on private homes, arrests, arbitrary charges, long periods of iadministrative detention,i travel bans, visa denials, torture and unexplained deaths that have been the lot of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories these long past decades have come into Israel with a vengeance. The disappearance of Dr. Omar Saeed at the hands of the security services is not less alarming. iI met with a thin and feeble man,i said his lawyer, who was only able to meet him after two weeks of interrogation. iHe told me that he is sometimes questioned for 18 hours straight by five interrogation teams.i
Indeed, initial reports of the charges being brought against the two should raise alarms for anyone concerned with preserving civil rights in Israel. Makhoul and Saeed are not being charged with espionage but with something called ipolitical espionage,i centering around imeetingsi with ian agent of Hizbollah.i Makhoulis lawyer, Hussein Abu Husein, notes that espionage laws in Israel are so wide-ranging that an internet chat or telephone conversation with anyone in an ienemy statei could lead to prosecution. ICAHD, like Ittijah, comes into contact with many people in its international activities, most of whom are by definition ienemy agentsi since they all seek, as do we, a total end to Israelis Occupation. Such vagueness in charging activists n and then not allowing them or their lawyers to even see the evidence against them n must inexorably lead to civil rights abuses.
But ipolitical espionagei does not even have to go that far. Laws being drafted by the Knesset call for the cancelling of legal status of Israeli NGOs eif there is a reasonable basis to conclude that the organization is providing information to foreign bodies or is involved in lawsuits abroad against senior officials in the government in Israel and/or officers in the Israeli army regarding war crimes.i” In other words, merely producing critical reports or analyses that might iaid the enemyi could turn an organization into an enemy of the state n as happened already to the New Israeli Fund, accused by the Right in Israel of providing 90% of the material that went into the Goldstone report. Activists meeting with their colleagues abroad could be accused of icoordinating political positionsi with enemy agents, suffering the same fate as Makhoul, Saeed and others.
While Palestinians on both sides of the iGreen Linei are obviously easy targets, every organization and individual in Israel concerned about peace, human rights, international law and justice is a target. (A recent poll found that 57.6 percent of Israelis agreed that human rights organizations that expose immoral conduct by Israel should not be allowed to operate freely.)
We condemn the arrest of Ameer Makhoul and Omar Saeed and demand their immediate release. Letters of protest to Israeli officials may be sent to:
- Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister, Office of the Prime Minister, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
- Mr. Ehud Barak, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, Fax: +972 3 691 6940, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mr. Eli Yishai, Minister of the Interior, Tel: +972 (0)2 670 1411
- Mr. Yehuda Weinstein, Attorney General, Fax: +972 (0)2 6467001
- Mr. Yuval Diskin, Head of Israelis General Security Services
- Mr. Yitzhak Aharonovitch , the Minister of Internal Security
- Mr. Yaakov Neieman, Minister of Justice, Email: email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ambassador Aharon Leshno-Yaar, Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations in Geneva, E-mail: email@example.com, Fax: +41 22 716 05 55
- Embassy of Israel in Brussels: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Israel in your respective country as well as to the EU diplomatic missions or embassies in Israel.
Jeff Halper and the ICAHD Staff