Yesterday, I reported that Israel had secretly arrested three Palestinian suspects in the murder of the Fogel family in Itamar. The arrests were under a blanket gag designed to deny access to Israelis (or Palestinians) of the news. The gag was issued by military judge, Maj. Yariv Navon of the Samaria district. It justifies issuance of the ban by claiming:
Identification of the detainees and information about their interrogation is likely to damage the investigation and security in the area.
Palestinians clearly have access to this information as you’ll note below. So the only ones denied access to it are Israelis. It isn’t clear to me how Israelis might damage this investigation unless the IDF is worried that settler vigilantes might take matters into their own hands. But it seems to me that the IDF is currently behaving little better than such vigilantes would. Another clear example of the often nonsensical basis of Israeli gag orders and censorship.
Today, AFP and Maan have further reported on this story and the three detainees mentioned below are likely the ones referred to by my source in yesterday’s post:
The latest arrests included several members of the Awad family, including three who were detained in the town of Beitunia, on the outskirts of the city of Ramallah.
On Monday, village officials said three other members of the Awad family had been detained, including a 15-year-old girl and her mother.
It is common practice in such situations for Shabak to arrest female family members to exert pressure on the suspects to be more pliant.
Maan reports in greater detail on the living hell experienced by this particular family:
Rights group Addameer said that one group of soldiers held the family of Jibril Awad captive in their home until 11:30 a.m. Tuesday.
A statement from the organization said soldiers rounded 20 members of the family into a single room of the home, and during an apparent search destroyed internal walls of the home, broke furniture and uprooted trees around the house to set up clear lines of view. Those kept in the room for hours included 10 children and a pregnant woman, the group said, citing one family member Nauf Awad, who said he was also being detained. He said an ambulance was permitted to evacuate a sick woman and the pregnant woman from the home.
As of noon, however, soldiers remained in the home, with 18 members of the family remaining inside.
…Rights workers told Ma’an that heavily-armed Israeli forces surrounded [a] Ramallah-area building at 3 a.m. and forced all residents to evacuate their apartments and wait outdoors as inspections and questioning took place.
Soldiers…detained 40-year-old Nu’man Salim Awwad, his brother 29-year-old Noah, and 19-year-old Yazid Hasan Awwad all from Awarta. They were all taken to the nearby Israeli Ofer detention center.
According to locals, Noah is a physician and moved to live in Ramallah to monitor his brother Nu’man who suffers from kidney failure.
Noah’s sister said Nu’man, 42, had been placed under house arrest by Palestinian security services several months earlier, and noted that Yazid had been released from Israeli prison the month before, after serving six years.
The AFP article expands on the pogrom-like behavior inflicted on Awarta by the IDF. According to the mayor:
“There isn’t a house in the village that hasn’t been subjected to breaking and smashing of things, from washing machines and fridges to satellite dishes and sinks,” he said.
“Electricity was cut off, they confiscated thousands of dunums [hundreds of hectares, acres] of village land,” he said, adding that water had also been sporadically cut off along with power…
This is how one mother described the treatment accorded to her sons:
“They brutally beat my sons; Majdi, who is 21, Amhad, who is 19, and 17-year-old Hakam. They beat them for no reason, they handcuffed my husband and broke everything inside the house; windows, the refrigerator, the washing machine and kitchen appliances. The spilled oil, sugar, salt and flour all together on the floor.”
Maan reports that 71 village residents, including two elderly women and a teenage girl remain in detention without charge and without access to counsel or visitors. Such treatment is a clear violation of the Geneva convention against collective punishment. Israel will eventually solve the Itamar murders, but in the process it will create ten times the former animosity in this village to its oppressive rule. No crime, no matter how heinous merits wholesale violations of internationally accepted human rights provisions.