I’m delighted to report that human rights activists around the world are beginning to understand the gravity of the Makhoul-Said case and rallying to their defense. I expect in the coming week or so that more specific plans will be announced regarding international activism on behalf of these two Palestinian victims of secret police persecution. The Shin Bet is clearly ratcheting up pressure on the entire Israeli civil society-human rights community, both Jews and Arabs, and wishes to turn this into a fight to the death. The only way to counter such a massive undertaking is to organize both inside Israel and abroad a powerful movement that will demand accountability and transparency for everything the security apparatus is doing. They must know that their every move will be scrutinized by the world human rights community. And when they fail to adhere to basic standards of justice and decency, they will be made to pay a price on the international stage.
There appears to be little that can embarrass Israel internally. It rides roughshod over whatever domestic opposition there is to such trampling of individual rights and democratic values. But there still is some leverage when Israel is made to understand it has overstepped a line in the eyes of the world.
Ynetnews reports in greater detail on the torture inflicted on Makhoul during his 12 days of intensive interrogation by the Shin Bet goons:
Mr. Makhoul declared in the Petah Tikvah Magistrate’s Court that particularly harsh interrogation methods were used against him, which harmed him psychologically and physically, and caused him to admit to the suspicions leveled against him even though he did not in fact do what he admitted to.”His lawyers said that during his detention their client was deprived of sleep and was interrogated almost without a break, while his hands and feet were tied in uncomfortable positions to a chair that was not of sufficient size and fixed to the floor. They said that when he complained of serious pain, the interrogators decided to tie him even tighter, and threatened that he would “leave the interrogation disabled,” and that he would “stay in the chair till he got hemorrhoids.”
Jonathan Cook quotes Makhoul’s wife:
“Thirty-six hours without sleep tied to a chair stuck to the floor.”
Laughably , the Shin Bet responds that when Makhoul was brought before a Shin Bet-approved judge and asked how he was feeling he didn’t indicate what he now claims. What a surprise. Knowing as he did that after leaving the courtroom the same goons would go right back to working him over, he chose discretion as the better part of valor. Indeed, I would claim that the Israeli judicial system is not impartial, but rather an extension of the Shin Bet. So any statement he made to an Israeli judge during this process should also be deemed to have no value or even meaning, since court was an extension of the torture chamber.
Besides, this is an account conveyed by the Shin Bet itself of what Makhoul did or didn’t say and as such it too much be held suspect unless it can be corroborated by a credible source with no self-serving agenda.
The Shin Bet has adopted the tactics of the dreaded Iranian Basij and thinks statements obtained under torture will convict a man. Well, I’ve got news for them. Israel is not yet Iran. And they will have a fight all the way to the Supreme Court on this if not beyond (if the Court refuses to apply its own previous rulings to this case).
I note that the list of prosecution witnesses listed Said as testifying against Makhoul and Makhoul as testifying against Said. This is a pipe dream meant to conjure an image of the Palestinian rats fleeing a sinking ship. Everyone, in their view, is out for themselves and they’ll all turn on each other when given half a chance. The truth is that neither one of these men will likely testify against the other. This is all just spook theatrics.
Jonathan Cook has also written:
Mr. Makhoul’s brother, Issam, a former MP for a joint Jewish-Arab party, told Israel Radio yesterday that Mr. Makhoul had been threatened by the Shin Bet back in January 2009, shortly after he organized protests against the Gaza attack. The Shin Bet had told him that they would frame him and “make him disappear,” Issam Makhoul said.
…Mr. [Ameer] Makhoul told the paper [the National, also quoted here in Antiwar.com] at the time that a Shin Bet officer “called me a rebel threatening the security of the state during time of war and said he would be happy to transfer me to Gaza.”
About Makhoul’s current detention and mistreatment, Cook writes:
…The combination of methods, known in Hebrew as the “Shabeh,” created high levels of mental stress and acute, continuous physical pain, said Abir Baker, a lawyer with Adalah. The interrogation method violates international law and was banned by Israel’s supreme court in 1999.
Hasan Jabareen, head of Adalah, said that, when Mr. Makhoul complained of serious pain, the interrogators tied him even tighter, threatening that he would be “left disabled.”
A human rights campaigner told me that the Shin Bet questioning happened during the protests against Israel’s invasion of Gaza in 2009. He was questioned for three hours and threatened and warned that Shabak would ‘get him’, ‘make him disappear’ and would send him to Gaza. Shabak told Ameer at the time that they knew his activities were legal but that if he crossed a line, they would come after him. Ameer had written a lot about the intimidation tactics used against him and others and he foretold what would happen to him.
Compare this narrative with the one in the S.B. indictment, which claims that Makhoul began conspiring with a known Hezbollah agent in 2008, that is one year before the Shin Bet told Makhoul that his activities were legal:
In 2008, at a date not known exactly to the Accusing Party, the Accused conspired with Hassan to assist the Hezbollah Organization in its war against Israel…
I would maintain that nothing in Makhoul’s activities changed from the date of his 2009 interrogation that rendered them truly illegal. Rather, it was the Shin Bet itself which changed its attitude toward Makhoul and indeed all Israeli Palestinian nationalist activism. The security apparatus decided, indeed Yuval Diskin as I’ve noted specifically warned the Arabs in 2007 that his agency would do all in its power to destroy the movement and its leaders. The current case is a direct outcome of this policy initiative.
A hauntingly beautiful song I’m researching presently. It appears to be written by William Nasser and dedicated to Palestinian resistance to the Occupation.
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