The Shin Bet appears to have gone on a tear in arresting Israeli Palestinians over the past few weeks. There are now at least four who’ve been arrested, the last three under gag. I reported on the first arrest, of Dr. Eyad Jawhari of Majdal Shams earlier this month. He is still imprisoned at Kishon prison after being moved from there to Shikma and back again. Though he was arrested at the end of June, the security services have refused to allow him to consult either with his attorney or to speak with his family. He has been incommunicado for three weeks, standard operating procedure for the Israeli secret police. Though there was an initial gag concerning his arrest, shortly after I broke the story the Shin Bet partially removed the gag. Now they may report the detainee’s name, though there is no official word on the charges against him.
In the short space of the past few days, three more Israeli Palestinians have been secretly detained. They are:
Abdul Basset Zo’abi of northern Israel (no further information known as of this time)
Salman Hassan Safadi: his arrest reported by the Golani Arabic language news service, Baladee, which notes that the Shin Bet “turned his house upside down” and confiscated mobile phones & computers. Like Jawhari, I’ve confirmed he is a resident of Majdal Shams, though neither Jawhari’s lawyer or family know if there is any connection between the two arrests.
Musa Khatib, a resident of the divided (Lebanese-Israeli) village of Ghajar, whose residents are largely Alawite, the same Muslim sect as Syria’s ruler, Bashar al-Assad. He is currently in Shikma Prison, outside Ashkelon.
Though I do not know the charges against these individuals, the fact that they were arrested by the Shin Bet under gag indicates a strong likelihood they were arrested on security charges. This, of course doesn’t mean they endangered the security of Israel. Far more likely they were engaged in political or nationalist activism, which is viewed as subversion by Israeli authorities.
Compare this treatment to that accorded to Jack Teitel, a Jewish settler terrorist who bombed other Israeli Jews, Christians and Palestinians, killing a number and severely wounding others. He even murdered two Israeli policemen. Only recently, years after his killing spree began, did the court accept a plea bargain by which Teitel admitted killing two Palestinians, though the court still has not formally convicted him or even found him criminally liable. There appears to have been some struggle about whether to declare him insane and so be rid of a criminal trial (a tactic often used by the authorities to avoid sending Jewish terrorists to prison). At any rate, he’s still officially in possession of his faculties, and free.
Another example of this sort of laxity concerns Dor Oved, who repeatedly vandalized the offices of Peace Now, the home of Hagit Ofran and cars of her neighbors, and other public property. He e-mailed death threats and scrawled them in graffiti messages on the walls of building housing Peace Now and at Ofran’s home. After a new round of this nonsense, the police have finally arrested him and charged him with some of these acts. But he was first arrested last November and sent home to his parents, where he promptly reoffended by sending out the e mail death threats.
The worst thing about this story is that Oved’s name is under gag not because of any serious security danger, but because both his parents work for the security apparatus, he for the Shin Bet and she for the police. When a photographer took the father’s picture at the court house, he assaulted the photographer warning that she should know who he was. Despite the incorrigible nature of this Arab and Jew hater, his identity and that of his parents are still forbidden for Israelis to know (unless they read this blog).
So there you have it: four Israeli Palestinians about whom we know almost nothing, including what they’re charged with. They have had no contact with lawyers or family and their names are under gag so that no one can rally to their support. As opposed to Dor Oved, coddled by the State, afforded the finest lawyers, sent home by the court to his parents, where he promptly continued his campaign of hate. His identity is protected by an arbitrary use of power on the part of the state security police. This is “democracy,” Israel-style.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.