High Court of Justice - Danger to Regional Security, Administrative Detention
Translation: Marganit W.
Appeal by Dr. Ghassan Sharif Haled for the annulment of an administrative detention order issued against him
ID No. 929191302 - Case No. 3738/08
Judges: Eliezer Rivlin, Edna Arbel, Salim Jubran
The appeal was rejected. Details follow.
We have been following the case of Dr. Ghassan Sharif Haled, a lecturer at the Law Department of A-Najah University in Nablus (represented by Attorney Muhammad Abid) since the case first came to our notice through four reports from the court
in Petach-Tikwa written by Ada Heilbronn:
Upon an urgent request by Dr. Haled's friends to help bring about his release- including a petition circulating on his behalf- we received the following information about the history of the case:
16.1.08 - Dr. Haled was detained for two months. His friends claim he was kidnapped. During the first three weeks he was interrogated under torture in the GSS dungeons.
As a result, he was physically injured (internal hemorrhage in his right leg).
19.3.08 - Dr. Haled was released by the military court until the resumption of his hearing set for 17.7.08.
31.3.08 - He was again abducted from his home in Nablus, this time at 3:30 AM.
Soldiers broke into his house, smashing the main entrance and his apartment doors with a sledgehammer, causing a severe trauma to his wife and small children.
For the last twenty days, since the second abduction, several hearings took place at the military court, in which the judge stated clearly his conclusion that the additional confidential material presented by the GSS contained nothing that justified this last abduction.
The judge warned the GSS representative that if no substantial allegation were presented within 24 hours, Dr. Haled would be immediately released.
3.4.08 -The GSS stood its ground, and the judge finally relented and signed
an administrative order for six months: 3.4.08-2.10.08, claiming that Dr.Haled is the "brain" behind an elaborate military plot to attack the Israeli administration in the Territories.
The GSS allegations are patently groundless, not to say ludicrous: his friends and acquaintances are convinced that this is nothing but a trumped up case:
"we know Dr. Haled as a confirmed believer in non-violence and as a man of truth."
Dr. Haled's parents, Sharif and Siham, of Jayyus village, near Kalkilya,
often welcome peace activists who try to help them in their non-violent struggle to preserve village fields expropriated for the building of the separation fence.
Dr. Haled's friends report that for 20 days he had undergone grueling and humiliating interrogations by the GSS for 20-22 hours on end, during which his hands were tied behind his back and his head bowed between his knees, sitting on a tiny chair, his feet tucked underneath (resulting in a hemorrhage in the right leg).
He never had more than 2-4 hours of sleep, during which he was woken up every 15 minutes for various "tasks" -washing, toilet, sleep.
He told these details to his friend David Nir a couple of days after his release.
At present, the Committee Against Torture is reviewing the case.
For the first three weeks, Dr. Haled was barred from meeting with an attorney, and nobody knew his fate.
On 27.2.08 his detention was extended by 9 days. Friends who attended the hearing reported that Dr. Haled asked to address the court. When he got up, his voice was choked and there were tears in his eyes. When he recovered, he described some of the questions the interrogators asked him during his 45-day detention:
Several SMS messages and emails about whose provenance and reason he had no clue - their content was baseless (supposedly showing that he was an active Hamas member).
His friends opined that "the main goal of this vicious incrimination is to undermine
the infrastructure of Palestinian society, which against all odds, still tries to survive and develop - as in this case too."
The Appeal and the Hearing at the High Court of Justice
The main arguments in Attorney Abid's urgent appeal are as follows:
The Intelligence material - "...has no base in reality... it is tendentious... the appellant's description in the confidential file does not correspond to the actual man."
A GSS investigator named Doron threatened the petitioner that he'd "ruin his life" if he did not cooperate. An investigator named Arad is on record saying: "Had he admitted to being a Hamas activist, we might have believed him, but since he denies it, why should we believe him; it is reasonable to assume that he is also active militarily."
"The GSS investigators tried to negotiate with the petitioner, to get him to admit to being a member of Hamas in return for dropping the military activity charge, but since he refused to admit to something he did not do, they apparently decided to slap him with an administrative detention instead."
Thus, it is the appellant's contention, that the administrative detention is an act of revenge by the GSS investigators for his refusal to cooperate and capitulate.
The indictment does not contain a single clause relating to military involvement or membership and activity
in Hamas. The only charge is "providing services to an outlawed organization". The GSS's "updated and confidential material," thus contained an absurd discrepancy, which nevertheless compelled the military court to rescind the release order and to impose on the appellant administrative detention.
This is common practice by the system, testifying to the weakness of the indictment that, presumably,
would not hold water in court.
The Deception and the Admission of Error:
The military court's decision to impose administrative detention was given at a hearing with GSS investigators and the military prosecutor WITHOUT THE KNOWLEDGE
OR PRESENCE OF THE APPELLANT'S REPRESENTATIVE. In that hearing, the prosecutor admitted that the appellant's release for 2 weeks was a result of "an error made by the system." The court not only caved in to the prosecution and the interrogators, but it gave no reason or explanation for the nature of the error: how and why the appellant was allowed to roam free for two weeks etc.
Throughout the appeal debate, the judges referred both to the error and to the furtive hearing, in which the attorney was not present. They evinced both discomfort with and criticism of the proceedings.
Justice Salim Jubran suggested waiting for the trial and wondered why the defense was not informed about the hearing, so that "justice would be seen."
Justice Rivlin spoke of "a dubious fishing expedition. not to mention the error."
He later commented that in 12 days "he could have committed a thousand terrorist acts." The judge concluded that "we must strive to return the case to the lower court in an orderly fashion... not a trivial hearing that nobody is aware of."
The Decision of the High Court of Justice
The decision to deny the appeal was handed down two weeks later, on 5.6.2008 and reads in the English translation as follows:
Appeal for a standing order 3738/08
In the name of the appellant: Att. Muhammad Abid
In the name of the responders: Att. Ittai Ravid
In the presidentʼs name: A. Rivlin
The appellant was interrogated by the security forces and on the 5/3/08 he was charged with provision of services to an unauthorized organization. Coinciding with presenting the charges to the court the military prosecution demanded his arrest till the completion of his trial. The court complied but due to an appeal on his behalf he was released under bail.
The security authorities had already decided prior to the release that if he be released they would consider issuing an administrative detention decree. Due to an error he was released however arrested 12 days following the release.
In a judicial review of the case of the appellant, the judge ordered his release because he had remained at his home for 12 days, and that was in spite of his conclusion, that prior his arrest the appellant was occupied with planning a military action.
An appeal presented to the military court of appeals was fully accepted. Against this the appellant complains.
We had reviewed the confidential material and had concluded that there is no incentive to debate the decision. The appellant is a Hammas activist who was engaged in planning a military operation risking the security in the region, and due to his harmful potential the appeal is rejected.
The judges accepted the prosecution's version in its entirety, ignoring all the appellant's arguments:
"With the appellant's consent, we examined the confidential material and
concluded that we have no reason to intervene with the earlier decision. The appellant
is a Hamas activist and was involved in planning a militaryaction that would endanger the security of the region. Since he constitutes a threat, his appeal is rejected."
Perhaps we attached too much importance or significance to the judges'queries during the appeal. Perhaps we were naïve in hoping that they wouldbe taken into consideration.
We know full well, that almost 100% of Palestinian appeals are rejected out of hand. Why should Dr. Haled's case be different?
One may conclude that Palestinians needn't bother to appeal to the High Court of Justice. Perhaps, and yet, a reverse conclusion could be drawn:
In June 1967, the Chief Military Prosecutor (the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court) Meir Shamgar, opened the door of the Israeli Hall of Justice to Palestinians. It is true that for the past 41 years that door has systematically been slammed in their faces, but the appeals and the decisions are documented and recorded and when the day of reckoning comes, they will be judged by the nations of the world and by history.