“He is human… He is a normal person, humble, who respects the law and refuses any special privileges as Deputy of the Legislative Council.”
– Mahmoud’s wife, Umm Muhammad
Name: Mahmoud Ahmed Abdul Rahman Al-Ramahi
Date of birth: 5 January 1963
Place of residence: Al-Bireh, Ramallah
Occupation: Doctor, Secretary-General of the Palestinian Legislative Council since 2006, Change and Reform bloc
Marital status: Married and father of five
Date of Arrest: 23 November 2012
Place of detention: Ketziot Prison
PLC member Mahmoud Ramahi was arrested for the fourth time on 23 November 2012, less than 5 months after he was released from a previous period of administrative detention. At 2:30 AM, his family heard voices and loud noises outside the house. Mahmoud’s wife rushed to open the door, correctly assuming that it was Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF), in order to prevent them from breaking down or blasting open the door, which they have a habit of doing and which scares her children. Five Israeli soldiers then entered the house. One of the soldiers pulled Mahmoud toward him and asked his wife to get his clothes and his identity card. He was then taken away to Ofer prison, outside Ramallah.
It is worth mentioning that Mahmoud’s arrest came one day after the cessation of the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip, which began on 14 November 2012 and lasted until 22 November 2012. Following the announcement of the truce in Gaza, IOF carried out a campaign of mass arrests throughout the West Bank. Hundreds of supporters of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, including 6 PLC members, were arrested. This wave of arrests represented a form of collective punishment aimed at Palestinian people in the West Bank who stood in solidarity with Gaza during the attacks and was clearly designed to undermine the achievements of the resistance in Gaza. Mahmoud’s current administrative detention order is for six months and is due to expire on 22 May 2013.
On 16 November 2010, a less senior military commander, “Yair Kolam”, signed Mahmoud’s administrative detention order for a period of 6 months. During the hearing reviewing this order on 21 November 2010, the military prosecutor alleged that since Mahmoud’s release from his prior detention in March 2009, he had returned to his work with Hamas and was therefore a threat to Israel’s public security, though he did not provide further evidence for this fact. As with all other administrative detainees, Mahmoud’s detention is based on secret information collected by the ISA and available to the military judge but not to the accused or his lawyer. This violates international human rights law, which permits some limited use of administrative detention in emergency situations, but requires that the authorities follow basic rules for detention, including a fair hearing at which the detainee can challenge the reasons for his or her detention. These minimum rules of due process have been clearly violated in Mahmoud’s case, leaving him without any legitimate means to defend himself.
Furthermore, the prosecutor admitted that they received incriminating evidence against Mahmoud from a source inside prison, but that it was insufficient to indict him. The military prosecutor did not answer basic questions about why Mahmoud was arrested, and also declined to respond when asked if his arrest was related to the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation, a legitimate question as Mahmoud is a participant in brokering dialogue between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. Ignoring these questions and instead basing himself only on the confidential information, the Military Judge, Michael Ben-David, approved the administrative detention order for the full period requested by the military commander, claiming that Mahmoud was participating in secret activities supporting terrorism, without specifying what exactly these alleged activities were.
On 10 May 2011, Mahmoud’s administrative detention order was renewed for another 6 months, which expired on 10 November. On that day, his administrative detention order was again renewed for a period of 6 months, which was reduced to 4 months at his judicial review hearing on 13 November. His administrative detention order was renewed for another 4 months in March, to be expired 4 July 2012. He was released on that date.
First arrest: On 16 December 1992, Mahmoud’s name was mentioned among 400 Hamas members to be deported to Marj El-Zhour in Lebanon. Mahmoud was then arrested, ostensibly in preparation for his deportation. However, he was then taken to Al-Moskobiyeh interrogation center in Jerusalem, where he was interrogated for four months. During the interrogation, Mahmoud was subject to some of the ugliest forms of torture, causing him to lose 40 kilograms over the course of four months. Both his lawyer and the Red Cross were initially prevented from visiting him. The Red Cross was finally allowed to visit him 35 days after his arrest, while his lawyer had to wait a full 60 days after Mahmoud’s arrest to see him. Mahmoud was sentenced to 28 months imprisonment, during which he was repeatedly transferred to different prisons, including the central Hebron and central Ramallah prisons. He was finally released on 14 May 1995.
Second arrest: On 20 August 2006, Mahmoud was arrested while in his home in Al-Bireh. IOF had previously been to his house to arrest him on several occasions and each time he was at the Al-Riaya Hospital in Ramallah, where he works. Every time the soldiers came to the house, they would search the premises and confiscate family computers and mobile phones, in addition to the children’s identification papers.
After Mahmoud was successfully arrested, he was taken to Ofer prison and was indicted on the charge of belonging to the Hamas-affiliated Change and Reform bloc, which won the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) elections in 2006. The charge brought to light the evidently political nature of the arrest. Mahmoud was sentenced to another 28 months imprisonment, during which he was transferred between Ofer and Ashkelon prisons. He was finally released on 31 March 2009.
Third arrest: Mahmoud was arrested for a third time at 3:00 AM on 10 November 2010 by IOF. This arrest was more 'peaceful’ than the others: the soldiers asked him to confirm his identity and informed him that he was wanted for arrest. Mahmoud was given time to change his clothes, and, over the course of 10 minutes, was arrested without inspection or interrogation. He was immediately transferred to Ofer Prison, near Ramallah. He was then held on an administrative detention order that was renewed repeatedly until his release on 5 July 2012.
FAMILY AND VISITS
Mahmoud’s family has yet to receive an answer from the Red Cross regarding the possibility of visiting him in detention. It typically takes three months for Israeli intelligence services to give families an answer regarding the possibility of visitation. When detained in 1992, Mahmoud’s family did not face any issues related to visitation. While Mahmoud was held by Israel in 2006, on the other hand, his wife was banned from visiting him on security grounds. At the time, all his children were under the age of 16 years old, and therefore did not require visitation permits, and so were able to visit their father along with their aunt, who was given a permit. During Mahmoud’s third period in detention, his wife was repeatedly denied visitation by Israeli intelligence and was only able to visit him twice over the course of two years.
Mahmoud is currently married to Umm Mohammed, with whom he has 5 children aged between 3 and 20 years old. Umm Mohammed is a housewife and holds a BA in Islamic Shari’a from the College of Islamic Law and Theology. She has been an elected member of the Al-Bireh municipal government since 2005 and is socially active.
EDUCATION AND PROFESSIONAL LIFE
Mahmoud holds a Bachelor’s degree from the Faculty of Medicine in Rome, Italy, which he received in 1987. He also holds Palestinian Medical Board qualifications, having received certifications in anesthesia and intensive care from Makassed Hospital in Jerusalem in 2001. Mahmoud has also served as President of the Muslim Students Union in Rome for a period of 4 years and founded the Medical Center of the Zakat Committee Ramallah, which he managed until 1996 and is also a founding member of the Medical Society Institute in Jerusalem. He has also served as general manager of Rahma Hospital of Obstetrics and Women’s Surgery for a period of six years. Mahmoud was an anesthesia specialist at Heba and Amani Centers for IVF until the time of his arrest.
Mahmoud was a member of the political bureau of Hamas and the head of the political bureau of Hamas Central West Region (Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Jericho) between 1990 and 1992. Starting at the beginning of 2006 he was the Deputy Secretary of the Palestinian Legislative Council. Mahmoud was also a member of the dialogue and reconciliation committee with the Palestinian Authority.
Here is how you can help Mahmoud Ramahi.
* Send Mahmoud letters of support to his postal address in prison:
Ketziot Prison, P.O. Box 13, Postal Code 84102, via Israel
*Write to the Israeli government, military and legal authorities and demand that Mahmoud Ramahi be released immediately.
Brigadier General Danny Efroni Military Judge Advocate General 6 David Elazar Street
Harkiya, Tel Aviv
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak
Ministry of Defense
37 Kaplan Street, Hakirya
Tel Aviv 61909, Israel
Fax: +972 3 691 6940 / 696 2757
Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon
OC Central Command Nehemia Base, Central Command
Neveh Yaacov, Jerusalam
Fax: +972 2 530 5741
Col. Eli Bar On
Legal Advisor of Judea and Samaria PO Box 5 Beth El 90631
Fax: +972 2 9977326
* Write to your own elected representative urging them to pressure Israel to release Mahmoud Ramahi.
* For more information about administrative detention and Addameer’s Campaign to Stop Administrative Detention please visit our website: www.addameer.org
Administrative detention is a procedure that allows the Israeli military to hold detainees indefinitely on secret evidence without charging them or allowing them to stand trial. In the occupied Palestinian West Bank, the Israeli army is authorized to issue administrative detention orders against Palestinian civilians on the basis of Military Order 1651. This order empowers military commanders to detain an individual for up to six month renewable periods if they have “reasonable grounds to presume that the security of the area or public security require the detention.” On or just before the expiry date, the detention order is frequently renewed. This process can be continued indefinitely.
For more information on administrative detention, read Addameer’s report on administrative detention:
Administrative Detention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory: A Legal Analysis Report, July 2010