Date of birth: 20 August 1992
Age at arrest: 16
Place of residence: Bethlehem
Occupation: 11th grade student
Date of arrest: 18 December 2008
Place of detention: Ofer Prison
Postal address: Ofer Prison, Givat Zeev, P.O. Box 3007, via Israel
Expected end of current administrative detention order: 14 December 2009
Number of order renewals: Two
At 2:00 am on 18 December 2008, Hamdi was woken up by a loud banging on the family home’s front door. The Israeli soldiers had come to arrest him again, just one month after his release from prison. Hamdi was only 16.
Hamdi was tied and blindfolded by a group of five to six soldiers, and was taken to Etzion Detention center in a military jeep. On 21 December 2008, three days after his arrest, he was transferred to Ofer for interrogation. According to DCI/Palestine Section,1 while under interrogation, he was questioned about the display of flags on the family house roof, the people he had encountered since the moment of his release and his political activities. Hamdi maintained that he was not involved in any activities and had only met with relatives and neighbors.
On 28 December 2008, in the Administrative Detainees Court in Ofer, Hamdi was informed that a four month administrative detention order was issued against him based on ‘secret evidence’ and that he would be held without charge or trial. Hamdi was neither accompanied by a lawyer, nor by his family, whose presence is banned in the Administrative Detainees Court. The administrative detention order was confirmed at the judicial review for a period lasting until 15 April 2009. An appeal hearing also confirmed the order. On 15 April, however, Hamdi was not released. Instead, a second administrative detention order was issued against him for a period of four months, and was set to expire on 14 August 2009. Again, however, on 14 August 2009, a third administrative detention order was issued against Hamdi. The order was confirmed six days later, on 20 August 2009 at the Administrative Detainees Court in Ofer. It was the date of his 17th birthday.
Hamdi’s arrest came only one month after he was released, on 13 November 2008, from nearly four months of administrative detention. Hamdi experienced imprisonment for the first time at the age of 15. On 25 July 2005, the Israeli army arrested him from his home in the early hours of the morning. According to DCI / Palestine Section, soldiers tied his feet and hands and ordered him to lie on the floor while they pointed rifles at him. He was then repeatedly beaten, slapped and kicked. Blindfolded, he was taken in a military jeep to Ofer Detention for interrogation. During the transfer, both physical and verbal abuse, including insults, continued. Hamdi was then interrogated about his political affiliations. He was informed a few days later that an administrative detention order was issued against him for a three month period.
At the judicial review, this earlier administrative detention order was confirmed just as the recent orders have been, set for a four month period from 14 August until 13 December 2008. However, an appeal hearing reduced the order to three months.
On 12 March 2008, Hamdi’s family learned of the killing of Hamdi’s father by the Israeli Occupying Forces along with three other people in what seems to have been an extra-judicial execution, also known as targeted assassination. Only a few months later, on 6 June 2008, the Tamri home was demolished in Bethlehem as a punitive measure against Hamdi’s father’s alleged activities. The soldiers gave the family only one hour to gather some of their belongings before they executed the demolition order. Both events had a huge impact on the mental well-being of all the children in the family and were reflected in the subsequent deterioration of their educational achievements. Hamdi’s mother relates that, before the murder of his father and the loss of their family home, Hamdi had been an outstanding student, and was very active in extra-curricular, especially musical activities. He volunteered with the school’s radio station as a host and used to sing at school events and parties. The family had a number of recordings of his performances, but these were all destroyed during the house demolition. However, following these devastating events, his grades dropped, and he became noticeably more introverted.
When Hamdi was first arrested in July 2008, one of the soldiers told him that his father was killed because “he was a terrorist and that they were going to kill all terrorists”.2
Hamdi’s older brother Shehadeh, aged 19, was also arrested following their father’s assassination. He spent nine months in Ketziot prison under administrative detention between 15 May 2008 and 22 February 2009. After Shehadeh was released, he enrolled in the faculty of law at Palestine Technical University in Bethlehem.
HAMDI’S DETENTION CONDITIONS
Hamdi’s family reports that since the moment of his arrest on 25 April 2008, they have been unable to send him even a change of personal clothes. The three times that his brothers tried to bring him a bag of clothes, the prison administration refused the entry of the parcel stating that Hamdi needs to submit an application first. However, he has reportedly applied at least three times, but never received a response.
Hamdi’s mother, 43, is prevented from visiting her son in prison for ‘security’ reasons. She has given up on the idea of applying for permits as she was routinely denied the right to visit her older son, Shehadeh during the nine months he was held as an administrative detainee. Hamdi’s family argues that his arrest was related to the killing of his father. Although both brothers were detained during the same time period, they were not allowed to be held in the same facility. Although Shehadeh applied for Hamdi’s transfer to Ketziot prison in the Negev, the prison administration declined stating that Hamdi was still a child and there were no juvenile facilities in Ketziot. The justification provided seems to be just an excuse to separate the brothers as minors have been detained in Ketziot prison before.
Currently, only Hamdi’s siblings Abbas, aged 10 and Aya, aged 12, are able to take part in the ICRC family visit program, as all other members of the family are denied permits on the premise of ‘security’. These include Hamdi’s 19 year-old brother Sheahdeh, his 18 year-old sister Mariam, who studies at Bethlehem University, his twin Bisan, and younger brother Ali, a 9th grade student. From the moment of Hamdi’s arrest, Aya and Abbas have only been able to visit their brother three times.
Here is how you can help Hamdi:
- Send Hamdi letters of support to his postal address in prison
- Write to the Israeli government, military and legal authorities and demand that Hamdi be released immediately and that her administrative detention not be renewed.
- Write to your own elected representatives urging them to pressure Israel to release Hamdi and to put an end to such an unjust, arbitrary and cruel system of incarceration without trial.
- For more information about Hamdi’s arrest, please refer to DCI / Palestine Section urgent appeal of 22 April 2009, “Hamdi al-Ta’mari receives third administrative detention order”
- DCI / Palestine Section urgent appeal of 22 April 2009, “Hamdi al-Ta’mari receives third administrative detention order”