Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Free Hana Shalabi.

All Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails must be freed.


Hana Yahya Shalabi was arrested 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, near the West Bank town of Jenin. 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, aged 63, 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 is greatly concerned by the verbal abuse Israeli detaining authorities display towards Palestinian female prisoners by directing sexual threats towards them and using inappropriate, vulgar language. Addameer contends that this behavior is done in a deliberate effort to exploit Palestinian women’s fears by playing on patriarchal norms as well as gender stereotypes within particular customs of Palestinian society.


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 raises 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. Hana is now set to be held without charge or trial until 13 March 2010.


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, due to overcrowding, she was placed in the same section as female Israeli criminal offenders. This placement is 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, 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, where she was held together with approximately 18 other Palestinian female prisoners. 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)


Prior to her 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.

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. Although Hana never intended to pursue university studies after completing her secondary education, she now vows to study journalism after she is released to advocate for the rights of Palestinian prisoners.


Administrative detention is a procedure that allows the Israeli military to hold detainees indefinitely on secret evidence without charging them or allowing them to stand trial. In the occupied Palestinian West Bank, the Israeli army is authorized to issue administrative detention orders against Palestinian civilians on the basis of Military Order 1591. This order empowers military commanders to detain an individual for up to six month renewable periods if they have “reasonable grounds to presume that the security of the area or public security require the detention.”

On or just before the expiry date, the detention order is frequently renewed. This process can be continued indefinitely.

For more information about administrative detention and Addameer’s Campaign to Stop Administrative Detention please visit the campaign’s page.

1 Please refer to “In Need for Protection: Palestinian Female Prisoners in Israeli Detention” for detailed information on Palestinian women prisoners’ detention conditions in Israeli prisons.