Israeli occupation forces raided the home of PLC member Ahmad Attoun and arrested him on 12 April 2017 in al-Bireh. Attoun was taken to Ofer were he was immediately interrogated, and then was given a four-month administrative detention order. Following the issuance of the order, he was transferred to al-Naqab. The Israeli military commander has renewed Attoun’s administrative detention order twice; the first renewal was for four months and the second for three, which should end on 9 March 2018.
Previous Arrests / Administrative Detention:
The Israeli occupation forces have arrested PLC member Ahmad Attoun on multiple occasions. He has spent over 15 years in detention. Previous arrests were as follows:
· First arrest: sentenced to 4 years (1988 – 1992)
· Second arrest: sentenced to 3 years (1994 – 1997)
· Third arrest: six months administrative detention order (1998 – 1999)
· Fourth arrest: sentenced to three years and a half (2006 – 2010)
· Fifth arrest: 20 months under renewed administrative detention order (2013 – 2014)
PLC member Attoun is considered a person of influence and stature within his community in East Jerusalem. This status was one of the main reasons for his forcible transfer from Jerusalem. In essence, the Israeli occupation forces seek to prevent Attoun from acting as an influential figure in the community. In this regard, forcible transfer is a policy used to divide the Palestinian society and prevent its social, political and economic development.
Attoun has been a leader at al-Omari mosque and al-Murabteen mosque, both in Sur-Baher (East Jerusalem), since 1997 and remained so until he was forcibly transferred in 2005. He was also the director of Zaid center for the teaching of al-Quran. Additionally, he was the head of the cultural union/association in his neighborhood in East Jerusalem. In 2006 he was elected as a PLC member and served in the Jerusalem committee and internal security committee.
PLC member Ahmad Attoun suffers from medical issues related to his heart, with him having surgery around a year before his latest arrest. Attoun also suffers from high blood pressure, diabetes, and kidney issues.
On 29 May 2006, the Israeli Minister of the Interior issued a revocation of residency order applying to several Jerusalemites in the Change and Reform bloc. Those affected include PLC members Ahmad Attoun, Mohammad Abu Tair, Mohammad Totah and the former Palestinian Minister of Jerusalem Affairs Khaled Abu Arafeh. One month later, on 29 June 2006, the Israeli occupation forces arrested Attoun and sentenced him to three years. After his release, on 3 June 2010, the Israeli occupation forces handed him an order to leave Jerusalem before 3 July 2010.
On 30 June 2010, Abu Tair was arrested for refusing to abide by the deportation order and was set to stand trial in Jerusalem. At the same time, Totah, Attoun and Abu Arafeh began a sit-in, in protest of their forcible transfer, outside the International Committee of the Red Cross office in East Jerusalem after their own temporary residency permits expired. On 26 September 2011, Israeli occupation forces raided the ICRC office and arrested Attoun. He was taken to al-Mascobbiyya where he suffered mistreatment and pressure in order to force him to sign off the expulsion order. As a result, on 6 December 2011, PLC member Ahmad Attoun was forcibly transferred to the West Bank.
According to international law, East Jerusalem is considered part of the occupied territory. Therefore, the Israeli occupation forces are not allowed to forcibly transfer residents of East Jerusalem, who are considered protected persons. Thus, this order, which transferred those PLC members and the minister, is considered a grave breach and violation of international humanitarian law. It is also considered a part of the Israeli systematic policy of collective punishment.
According to article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, the occupying power is not allowed to forcibly transfer protected persons except under restricted conditions, which the Israeli occupation forces did not meet. As a result, the order of expulsion and revocation of residency is void, according to article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and a war crime according to article 85 of the Additional Protocol 1 of the same convention.
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 area military commanders to detain an individual for renewable periods of up to six months if they have “reasonable grounds to presume that the security of the area or public security requires the detention.” The order must be reviewed before a court, whether it is a civil or a military court is determined by the individual’s residency status as a Jerusalemite or a West Bank ID holder. On, or just before the expiry date, the detention order is frequently renewed. This process can be continued indefinitely.
This practice of arbitrary detention is a grave violation of international law and human rights standards particularly articles 78 and 72 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states that an accused individual has the right to defend him/herself. This also violates Article 66 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the basic standards of fair trial.
Addameer believes Ahmad Attoun’s detention violates international fair trial standards since administrative detention orders are based on secret information. As a result, Attoun’s legal representatives are unable to mount a genuine defense due to the fact that they are not aware of the details of the allegations against him, which amount to his being a ‘security threat’.
PLC member Ahmad Attoun has been subject to a concerted campaign against him. After only four months following his release from prison, and his serving of two years under administrative detention, he has been rearrested for a period of at least six months. Out of the approximately 20 years that he has served in prison, two-thirds of that time has been without charge or trial.
Ahmad Attoun is married to Nisreen Dewyat and he is a father of five; 19-year-old Mujahid who is a law student, 18-year-old Muhammad who is an accounting student, 17-year-old Mariam, 16-year-old Mahmoud and 8-year-old Batoul.
On 3 December 2013, the Israeli occupation forces arrested both of Attoun’s sons, Mujahid who was 16 years old and Muhammad who was 15 at that time. They released Mugahed hours after arresting him from his house but they kept his brother. Muhammad was sentenced to two years. He was released on 1 October 2015 form Megiddo prison. Following this, he was rearrested on 1 December 2016 and sentenced to six months, which ended on 11 May 2017.
Palestinian Legislative Council members:
Despite the fact that, according to international law and Israeli courts, no one can be detained for their political opinions, Palestinian political leaders are routinely arrested and detained as part of an ongoing Israeli effort to suppress the Palestinian political processes – and, as a result, Palestinian political sovereignty and self-determination. In the lead-up to the Palestinian legislative elections of January 2006, this process focused particularly on members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC).
During the second half of 2015, the number of Legislative Council members in detention decreased to 5. However, this number increased to reach 10 members by the end of December 2017. Currently, there are 11 detained PLC members, including 7 under administrative detention.
The Israeli occupation forces have continued their persecution of Palestinian Legislative Council members since 2006, and arbitrarily incarcerate them following military trials, which lack fair trial standards, or, for the majority of them, after the issuance of administrative detention orders. It has also prevented a number of Legislative Council members from traveling outside of the occupied Palestinian territory.