Date of birth: 12 December 1960
Place of residence: Hebron
Occupation: Member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Change and Reform bloc
Date of arrest: 6 November 2007
Place of detention: Ketziot (Negev)
Number of administrative detention orders: 4
Postal address: Ketziot Prison P.O. Box 13, Postal Code: 84102 08, Israel
Mr. Qafisha was arrested by the Israeli Occupying Forces from home at 1:30 am on 6 November 2007. After having searched his house, the Israeli forces transferred him to the Moskobiyya (Russian Compound) interrogation center where he was questioned for a period of 2 days. Subsequently, he was transferred to Ofer prison where he was informed that an administrative detention order was issued against him for a period of 6 months. This was the beginning of a life in suspension. Since then, the order was renewed 4 times, most recently on 3 March 2009 for a four month period until 2 July 2009.
Prior to this latest arrest, Mr. Qafisha had been imprisoned a total of 5 times by the Israeli authorities in addition to being arrested by the Palestinian Authority and detained as a political prisoner between 6 October 1998 and 13 January 1999. With the exception of his first arrest in 1990, when he was sentenced to 5 months of prison, Mr Qafisha was always placed under administrative detention by the Israeli authorities: for a 6 month period in 1994, more than 2 years between March 1996 – June 1998, from July 2002 until August 2003 and finally from January 2005 until December 2006. Mr. Qafisha was elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council as a member of Change and Reform bloc on 25 January 2006 while he was still in administrative detention.
In addition to his numerous arrests, Mr. Qafisha was deported by the Israeli authorities to the village of Marj Al-Zuhur in southern Lebanon on 12 December 1992 together with more than 400 other Palestinian social and political activists. He was able to return to the West Bank only the next year on 16 September 1993. He recorded this experience of political exile in a series of articles which have been published by Al-Quds newspaper. Mr. Qafisha’s intention was to publish his memories in a book, parts of which were confiscated by the Israeli authorities while he was in prison.
Educational and Professional Background
Mr. Qafisha holds a B.A. and M.A. in Political Science from the American World University, a distance learning institution with offices in the West Bank. He completed both degrees in prison with the support of his family who were liaising with the university on his behalf and bringing him books and assignments during family visits without a formal permission from the prison administration. Higher education for political prisoners in Israeli detention is only allowed to sentenced prisoners, thus excluding administrative detainees. Mr. Qafisha finalized his dissertation titled “The confinement of American regional strategy after the War in Iraq” from behind bars. He currently intends to pursue his PhD; however he fears that the prison administration will deny him that right.
As PLC member, Mr. Qafisha was very actively promoting sports, a long neglected sector in the occupied Palestinian territory. Just before his arrest, he planned to start renovating and developing the Al-Hussein football stadium in Hebron. With his arrest however, all of these plans and projects remain now on hold. Prior to becoming a PLC member, Mr Qafisha was known in Hebron as a successful entrepreneur, who was running a family business. Mr. Qafisha is member of the Palestinian Football Federation. Until the moment of his arrest, he was an active member and player of the Ahli club in Hebron. In addition, he is also a member of Muslim Youth Society in Hebron.
In Ketziot prison, Mr. Qafisha mostly suffers from the lack of books as these are not provided by the prison administration. Moreover, restrictions are imposed on the type and number of books allowed to be brought during family visits. Indeed, no more than 5 books are permitted once every three months. Such restrictions constitute a serious deterrent for prisoners such as Mr Qafisha who wish to continue their education.
Mr Qafisha is married and has eight children – 6 girls and 2 boys – the eldest of them being 22 and the youngest only 6 years old. Since the date he was arrested, on 6 November 2007, Mr. Qafisha’s wife was not permitted to visit him even once, as the Israeli authorities have not replied to her application. Neither are the two oldest daughters, aged 22 and 20. Only Mr. Qafisha’s children below the age of 17 are permitted to visit their father in prison, with the oldest ones looking after the youngest. On the day of the visit, Sundus, aged 17 and who is currently studying for her final matriculation exam usually has to take a day from school. She describes the journey as follows: “the road is very long and the searches are tiring. During the visit, we speak over the phone with our father, but we can’t hear him well as the line cuts out every now and then”. In the sixteen months since his arrest, only Mr. Qafisha’s youngest daughter, Ru’a, aged 6, was allowed to 15 minutes of open visit, without a divider, and thus physical contact with her father. Mr Qafisha’s arrest had a particular effect on the well-being of his children. Enas, aged 15 says: “I can’t study without my father. He was the one who used to drive us to school in the mornings. We used to go on trips, now no one takes us anywhere”.
Prior to his arrest, Mr. Qafisha devoted his free time to writing on topics related to sports and politics, many of which were published in Al-Quds newspaper.
Interests: Politics, religion, writing and football