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(Ismael Mohamad / United Press International)

Israel arrests Stop the Wall youth coordinator in latest attack on Palestinian human rights defenders

Israeli forces arrested activist and human rights defender Hassan Karajah during a nighttime raid on his home in the occupied West Bank village of Saffa, near Ramallah, yesterday morning.

According to Stop the Wall, Israeli forces damaged property and attempted to humiliate Karajah’s family:

Armed soldiers of the IOF [Israeli occupation forces] stormed the home of Hassan Karajeh at 2:30am, and, gathering the family together in one room, separated the men and women from each other. The soldiers started to search the family members and ordered them to strip naked for a strip search, however the men and women refused and defied this order.

Muhannad Karajeh, Hassan’s brother and a lawyer, reported that special units of the Israeli army stormed the house and carried out an extensive search, in the process breaking furniture, scattering the contents of the house, and taking three personal computers, three mobile phones, and five bags of private documents belonging to the family.

Muhannad Karajeh further described how the Israeli soldiers attacked his brother Hassan, handcuffed and blindfolded him, and, arresting him, took him to an undisclosed location and refused to tell the family where.

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The aftermath of Israel’s raid on the Karajah family home.

(Stop the Wall)

The Palestinian human rights and prisoner advocacy group Addameer has also published a profile of Karajah with a detailed description of the raid and arrest, and states that Karajah is currently being held at Jalameh interrogation center. The group also stated on its Facebook page today that an Israeli military court has ordered Karajah’s detention for another 12 days of interrogation, and that Karajah was “beaten shortly after his arrest when he was first detained at a checkpoint.”

Israel’s attacks on Stop the Wall

Hassan Karajah is a 29-year-old youth coordinator with Stop the Wall, whose activists have been repeatedly targeted by Israeli forces. Last year the army raided the group’s Ramallah offices, stealing computers and hard drives. Stop the Wall coordinator Jamal Juma’ was arrested in 2009 during a raid on his home and later released without charge. A previous youth coordinator with Stop the Wall, Mohammed Othman, was also arrested in 2009 upon his return from an advocacy tour in Norway, interrogated for 61 days and held for 113 days without charge or trial.

The Electronic Intifada reported in 2010:

Muhammad Othman, 33, from Jayyus village in the northern West Bank, was also held in administrative detention, or without charge, since September last year until he was recently released. Othman has been heavily involved in the Anti-Apartheid Wall campaign.

Like Bilin, Jayyus has lost land to Israel’s wall in the occupied West Bank. An Israeli court also ruled that the wall cutting through Jayyus land had to be rerouted.

Last year Othman had traveled to Norway where he met with senior Norwegian officials to explain human rights abuses in the West Bank.

Norway’s national Pension Fund has subsequently divested from Elbit, the Israeli company which provides Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and other military technology to the Israeli military in addition to security systems for the wall and settlements.

It is not the first time that Hassan Karajah has been arrested for his work. Stop the Wall reported in 2011 that Palestinian “security” forces arrested the activist and interrogated him for two days “in a desperate attempt to divide the ranks of the protest movement” in Ramallah calling for elections for a new National Council of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Coordinated attacks on prisoner movement, BDS

Israel’s arrest of Hassan Karajah is not only the latest attack on Stop the Wall — it must be understood as part of a concentrated effort to undermine the movement in support of Palestinian political prisoners and the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement which aims to hold Israel accountable for its violations of Palestinians’ rights.

Thwarting these movements appeared to be a motive behind Israel’s coordinated early-morning raids on the offices of several prominent civil society groups, including Addameer, the Palestinian NGO Network and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, in Ramallah last month.

Sahar Francis, director of Addameer, told The Electronic Intifada shortly after the raid:

We think, actually, that this raid was because the three organizations, especially Addameer, was involved a lot this year in the hunger strikes and the support for Palestinian political prisoners, in all of 2012, and our work with PNGO and the Union of Women’s Committees on the BDS campaign. And the three organizations were sharing, actually last week, in the World Social Forum in Puerto Allegre, in Brazil, and demanding to enhance the BDS campaign and to expand the work of BDS on the international level.

Israel also arrested Addameer researcher Ayman Nasser last October during a late-night raid on his family’s home which, like that of Hassan Karajah, is in the West Bank village of Saffa. Nasser’s wife, Haleema, was held at gunpoint during the arrest operation. Nasser was subjected to 39 days of interrogation which included coercive measures that Addameer states “were practiced against him in order to break him psychologically and physically.” The father of four young children, who has previously been imprisoned for six years, faces charges directly relating to his prisoner advocacy work. According to Addameer:

The charges include support and solidarity with Palestinian prisoners, participating in the annual Prisoners’ Day on 17 April (the charges specified participation in 2011 and 2012), as well as participating in solidarity activities during hunger strikes (both collective hunger strikes and individual hunger strikes), in addition to attending a festival anniversary of Martyr Abu Ali Mustafa on 27 August 2012.

Repression anticipated

Stop the Wall has also played a prominent role in organizing protests to support Palestinian hunger strikers, and Hassan Karajah spoke in detail about youth activists’ role in the hunger strike movement in an interview published by The Electronic Intifada last year.

Karajah anticipated further repression by Palestinian Authority and Israeli forces, but remained undeterred:

The repression we are currently facing — whether that is violence against us during protests or attacks like the Israeli raid of Stop the Wall’s offices on 7 May — is simply an attempt to cancel our right to freedom of expression and assembly. At the Stop the Wall offices the Israeli military took away documentation and equipment for documentation of human rights violations, in particular computers, hard disks and memory cards. We are apparently asked to sit at home and watch our last lands being confiscated, our homes demolished and thousands of Palestinians being taken away to Israeli jails, many even without trials or charges. But we will not sit at home and we will not be silent.
The Palestinian youth movement has chosen popular action and shouting our demands to the world. We are with our bodies here in the streets and in the fields and with our voices all around the world. The idea that a new generation is getting stronger, that it is not ready to forget about their rights and their identity, and that it is not ready to accept the status quo as “normal,” this is what scares them.

If we are able to keep the current momentum of popular mobilization and international attention created for our struggle and are able to successfully build on it, then they will be even more scared of us and in Stop the Wall we predict more repression to follow the last office raid.

Comments

With the international community becoming more aware of the reality of the occupation/oppression in Palestine, pressure is building and is being felt by the Zionist elite. This makes them even more volitile and brutal. What Israel is doing is constantly provoking, hoping for a voilent reaction to give them an excuse to attack and some badly needed PR that makes the Palestinians look like the bad guys and legitmises their brutal occupation.