Palestinians participate in a protest in support of Ahmed Saadat in Nablus, on December 25, 2008. (MaanImages/Rami Swidan)
Seven Palestinian men remain in Israeli detention nine years after they
were illegally detained during an Israeli attack on a Palestinian prison
in Jericho, the Palestinian Prisoner's Society said in a report
released on Saturday.
The report highlighted the dismal prison
conditions faced by Ahmad Saadat, secretary-general of the leftist
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, as well as Ahed Abu
Ghalma, Hamdi Qaraan, Basel Asmar, Majdi al-Rimawi, Yasser Abu Turki,
and 75-year-old Fuad Shubaki, who is the oldest Palestinian prisoner
currently serving time in Israeli prison. The group was kidnapped on March 14, 2006 as part of the Israeli military operation "Bringing
Home the Goods," which involved an attack on a prison run by the
Palestinian Authority where the men were being held.
The prisoners were initially held in a PA
prison in Jericho, under the supervision of British and American
wardens, as part of a US-brokered agreement in April 2002, at the height
of the Second Intifada. Israel violated that agreement by attacking the prison and kidnapping the detainees. In 2006, following the Palestinian elections that year,
the newly formed Hamas government announced its intention to release the
prisoners. As a result, on Mar. 14, hundreds of Israeli troops
descended on the Jericho prison in an operation named "Bringing Home the
Goods," killing two PA security men and arresting 182 people from
inside the prison. A third of the prison compound was subsequently
Israel claimed that under Saadat's authority the 2001 assassination of Israeli tourism minister Rehavam Ze'evi took place, in response to the Israeli
assassination of PFLP Secretary-General Abu Ali Mustafa. Israel failed to prove the
allegations in court, but Saadat was nevertheless convicted.
Fuad Shubaki was suspected by Israel of having been responsible for organizing a
shipment of weapons to Palestine from abroad that was intercepted in
2002. Saadat is serving a 30-year sentence, Shubaki a 20-year sentence, and Ahed Abu Ghalma was sentenced to life and five years in prison. Ahmad Qaraan was sentenced to 100 years, Bassel Asmar to a lifetime and 20 years, Majdi al-Rimawi to a lifetime and 80 years, and Yasser Abu Turki to two lifetimes and 20 years of jail.
According to the PPS report, Abla Saadat, wife of Ahmad Saadat, said she has
recently been banned by the Israeli authorities from visiting her
husband, and most of his relatives have been prevented from visiting him
since he was detained.
Hazem Shubaki, Fuad Shubaki's son, said
that his 75-year-old father is suffering from difficult health
conditions, which are deteriorating due to the living conditions in
prison. He said his family is awaiting their father's return,
especially after their mother passed away four years ago without having
had a chance to say goodbye to her husband. Shubaki added that the Israeli authorities only allow him to visit his father once a year.
Wafaa Abu Ghalma has also been prevented from visiting her husband, Ahed,
since 2009. She said that he suffers migraines, which only increases his
ordeal in prison.