Friday, 18 January 2019

Detention is an instrument of Israel’s oppression

In the dead of night, Israeli forces knocked on the door of Salah Hamouri’s apartment in Jerusalem, he told me. “When I opened the door they told me they were looking for me and began to search the house. They destroyed the furniture, turning it upside down, searching for something; I don’t know what. Of course, they found nothing, but they took me away anyway.”

That was on 22 August 2017. Over a year later – thirteen months to be exact – Hamouri was finally released from administrative detention, a status Israel uses to imprison Palestinians indefinitely with neither charge nor trial. Speaking to MEMO shortly after his release, he recounted being moved repeatedly between Israeli detention centres and deprived of contact with his family, as well as the challenges faced by the hundreds of other Palestinian political prisoners just like him.

“That night I was transferred between three military bases in Ramallah [in the occupied West Bank] until 4 o clock the next afternoon, at which time I arrived at the Russian Compound,” explained Hamouri. Sometimes known by its Arabic name Al-Moscobiyeh, the Russian Compound is a notorious interrogation centre located in the centre of Jerusalem, renowned for its brutal interrogation and torture methods. “I passed two or three levels of interrogations, and at the end of the first week [in detention], the judge ruled that I should be released.”

Of course, there were strict conditions attached to his release: he would not be able to leave the coastal city of Haifa for three months, for example, and would be forbidden from entering Jerusalem or the occupied West Bank. “I accepted the deal,” he said, but… “Just one hour before I was due to be released, the Shin Bet [Israel’s internal security agency] came and relayed a military order from the then Minister of Defence [Avigdor Lieberman] which blocked my release.”


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