Mrs. Sa’adat left her home in Ramallah at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday 21 January 2003 to travel to the Karamah Border Crossing. The last contact with her family in Ramallah was at noon on Tuesday, when she called to inform them that she was still waiting to cross through the Israeli side of the border. At 6 p.m. the same evening, the director of Addameer received a phone call from a Jordanian citizen who had met with Mrs. Sa’adat on the Israeli side of the border crossing at 4:30 p.m. He informed the director that she had been waiting for the Israeli General Security Services to interrogate her and that they had refused to allow her to call her family to inform them of the delay and asked that he send word to them.
After 10 p.m. that same evening, she still had not met with her son in Amman, Jordan, who was waiting to take her to the airport in order to catch her flight to Brazil at 4 a.m. Addameer’s lawyer then called the Israeli authorities at Karamah Crossing to ascertain the whereabouts of Mrs. Sa’adat. They refused to confirm or deny whether she was being detained or if she was still at the border crossing.
On 22 January 2003, the lawyer unsuccessfully attempted to locate Mrs. Sa’adat, and was told that her name was not on any lists of detainees being held in Israeli detention centers or prisons. At 9 a.m. on 23 January, over 40 hours after she was last seen, the lawyer was finally informed that Mrs. Sa’adat was being held in an isolation cell at the Ohel section of Beit El military detention center. At the time of writing, the lawyer was still waiting to be informed as to whether or not he was allowed to visit Mrs. Sa’adat.Mrs. Sa’adat, 47 years old and a mother of four, is a long time women’s rights and human rights activist and was traveling to represent Addameer at the World Social Forum, a congregation of over 80,000 social activists meeting to discuss and strategize activities to ensure a democratic, just world based on respect for human rights. She is the wife of the Secretary General of the Popular Front for The Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Ahmad Sa’adat, who was arrested without charge or trial by the Palestinian Security Services on 15 January 2002, and then transferred to Jericho Central Prison with five other detainees under UK-US guard as part of a political agreement with Israel to end the siege on Arafat’s Presidential headquarters in Ramallah in May 2002.
Mr. Sa’adat remains in detention, despite a Palestinian High Court of Justice ruling on 3 June 2002 ordering his immediate release as he had not been charged or brought to trial. He recently ended a 3-day hunger strike beginning 15 January 2003, to mark one year of his illegal arrest and to demand his immediate release. His brother, Mohammad Sa’adat was also a victim of Israel’s policy of ‘targeted killings’, assassinated on 20 August 2002.
Addameer strongly condemns the detention of Mrs. ‘Abla Sa’adat as yet another act fueling the climate of intimidation and terror being imposed on the Palestinian community, and in particular on Palestinian activists and families of political detainees. This climate of terror is reinforced through daily humiliation by the Israeli occupying forces, whether at Israeli checkpoints, in re-occupied cities and villages in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, or within the home; by house to house raids and mass arbitrary detention, effectively imprisoning activists and leaders of the community, whether political, civic, social, or religious; by indiscriminate ‘targeted killings’, assassinating Palestinian leaders and innocent individuals; by forcible transfer of population through eviction and demolition of homes in the name of settlement expansion and elusive ‘security’; by the indiscriminate and unjustified use of force amongst civilian populations on a daily basis, leading to at least one Palestinian death every day; by the continued curfews and closures which have essentially paralyzed development within the Palestinian community.
Addameer demands the immediate release of ‘Abla Sa’adat as she has not been charged with any crime, and holds the Israeli Authorities directly responsible for her security and well-being. Addameer is concerned for Mrs. Sa’adat’s health as she suffers from severe back problems due to a slipped disc. Addameer also calls on the international community to intervene on behalf of ‘Abla Sa’adat and call for her immediate release, in addition to the release of all Palestinian detainees held by Israel without charge or trial, and to halt its arbitrary arrest policies as a form of collective punishment.