December 18th – violence and arrest of family members
When appearing for a court session in the Magistrate Court in Jerusalem, the Israel Prison Service (IPS) guards escorting Samer violently prevented him from establishing contact with his family members present in the court. This behavior is especially perturbing as it ignores his vulnerability following 123-days hunger strike, the fact that his life is at risk and he is almost completely incapable to move and uses a wheel chair.
The incident was documented by several cameras: 1, 2, 3.
During the incident, Samer’s brother Ashraf Issawi was detained shortly. Two hours later, police forces broke into the family home and arrested Samer’s sister, Shireen Issawi. Both Samer and Shireen are accused of assaulting police.
Shireen was released on probation on December 19th. She is under house arrest for 10 days, has to pay a fine, and is prohibited from being present at any of her brothers’ court hearings for the next six months.
Background and Details of Samer’s Hunger Strike
October 2011: he was released as part of a prisoner exchange (the Shalit deal).
Since his release: Samer, like a significant number of those released in the deal, has been persecuted and harassed by the Israeli army and police.
July 7, 2012: Samer was re-arrested at the J`aba` barrier and was transported to the investigation facility in Jerusalem’s Russian Compound, where he was held under investigation for 28 days.
August 20, 2012: Samer began a full hunger strike in protest of his arrest and demanding his release. he is currently being held in the Prison Service Medical Center in the Nitzan Prison in Ramle. Attorneys who have visited him note a deterioration in his health, an extreme loss of weight, an inability to walk and difficulty standing, dizziness, pain throughout his whole body, etc.
December 9, 2012: The last appeal of PHR Israel to the IPS to allow entrance of an independent physician to the hunger strikers Ayman Sharawna and Samer Issawi was sent. A response has not yet been received.
Policy of Breaking Solidarity & Isolating hunger strikers
As Samer progresses with the hunger strike, the circle of solidarity and protest against his arrest has widened, particularly in East Jerusalem and Al-Issawiya village where he was born. Subsequently, the Jerusalem police have engaged in violent suppression arresting youths participating in protests. It seems that the arrest of Samer’s sister and brothers is an additional means of both exerting pressure on Samer and silencing the protest.
On the same lines, is the IPS insistence on preventing independent physicians from seeing the hunger strikers, including Samer. This cannot be seen as but another tool in a policy of isolation, and prevention of external inspection of the medical treatment offered in the Prison Service Medical Center.
Similarly, since his recent arrest last arrest Samer has been denied family visits. The IPS views one’s right to be in contacts with his family as a privilege that can be denied at will regardless of prisoners’ deteriorated health condition.
PHR-Israel calls for:
- The release of Samer Issawi and his family members and for an investigation of the incident that occurred in the courthouse.
- Immediately facilitating family visits
- Immediately facilitating the entry of an independent doctor to examine Samer.
Judicial proceedings: Samer is being detained with no indictment or trial and with no time limit, in accordance with military order number 11/186 which authorizes a military council to expropriate “release/pardon” which the military command gives to prisoners who are suspected of violation of their terms of release “not by means of conviction.” This is a new amendment to the order, added less than a month before the implementation of the prisoner exchange in October 2011.
According to the order, the decision of the council to sentence the prisoner to complete his original sentence relies entirely upon confidential material, with no judicial proceedings, or the absence of the ability for any kind of defense. Samer was arrested in 2004 and held for 10 years in prison until his release. This original sentence was for 30 years.
Samer’s lawyers presented the military council with an objection to his arrest. The council has not yet made a decision and hasn’t provided a date for giving its decision.
Personal background: Samer, 33, a resident of Al-Issawiya. The son of a family with a history of suffering. He has six brothers and two sisters. Of his brothers:
Fadi Issawi was killed during violent events following the Cave of the Patriarchs (Me’arat Ha-Machpelah) massacre in 1994.
Medhat Issawi was held 19 years in Israeli prisons. In June 2012, he was arrested again because of his participation in a demonstration showing solidarity with the hunger striking prisoners. Today he is being held in isolation in the Shikma Prison.
Firas Issawi was arrested in the beginning of November 2012, while participating in a protest demonstrating solidarity with his brother Samer’s hunger strike.
Shireen Issawi is a lawyer and activist for prisoners’ rights. She was arrested for the entire year of 2010 and was again arrested yesterday and released to a 10 day house arrest.