The Daily Life of Kawther Salam
..: Two Testimonies from Israeli Jail :..
October 4, 2003
July 1, 2003 - These men in the center of Hebron have been detained by the IDF and will remain sitting like this for
the whole day, or even the night. They are the inhabitants of the houses of the vicinity, and this is a customary way
of the IDF to collectively punish Palestinians "for living in their own country". Picture by CPT Hebron.
Testimony of a Foreigner detained by the Israeli Occupation - the Honeymoon Way
Under the laws of Israel, it is legal to detain Palestinians for up to six months without them knowing why. It is legal to put them under administrative arrest for six months, one year, one year and a half, and so on. It is enough to renew the date of arrest for another six months, without letting the detainees know why. To hold hostage the life of a human being in Israeli jails without knowing why, is legal. This is the practice of the Genocide Laws by the Israeli State.
Greg Rollins is a friend of mine, he is from the CPT Peace Maker Team in Hebron. We used to make Peace tours and patrols in the old city of Hebron together, during which we visited Palestinian families..., and when the Israeli occupation cut all the ways between Hebron and it's district and the other cities, and when the Israeli soldiers at the Atzion Checkpoint denied me the right of return from Jerusalem to my home in Hebron, Greg Rollins was a flicker of hope. He helped me to receive some of my personal stuff. He collected a small bag with things from my house in Hebron and brought it to Jerusalem. Then he and other members of the CPT sent me to Austria some of my personal things before the house was looted by the settlers from the vicinity.
When I read about the Israeli occupation arresting my friend Greg Rollins some months ago, I was not astonished at all. The occupation is targeting everyone in the Occupied Territories without considerations, whether they are Palestinians of foreigners. Everybody is wanted by Israel. Greg wrote me two days before his arrest. He was visiting my family and collecting some of my personal stuff he was about to send to me by mail.
The Israeli occupation held Greg in jail for 17 days without charge or telling him why. The only probable reason I can think of as a reason for his arrest is because Greg was always observing what the IDF soldiers and settlers are doing in Hebron and how they are constantly violating the human rights of the Palestinian population. This made him and the other members of CPT a target for the military occupation in Hebron.
I was recommending Greg to take care about himself and to be aware of what the IDF soldiers are doing against my people and what they would maybe do against him. This is why I was not astonished when I read about his arrest by the Israeli occupation.
After 17 days in Jail, Greg Rollins was released, I asked him to tell me something about his experience in the Israeli jail. I asked him to tell me something about how Israel treat foreigner prisoners in their jails. For sure, this description is totally different of the Palestinians life under Israeli jails, which includes secret jails or what the State of Israel calls "Jails behind the Moon". Compared to the treatment normally meted out to Palestinians, Gregs experience in jail was a true honeymoon.
2002 - Kawther and a CPTer walking in Hebron. The city resembles a ghost town during curfew.
Here is Greg Rollins response to my inquiry about his time in Israeli jail:
HEBRON Reflection: Support through prayer
June 5, 2003
by Greg Rollins
The walls of prisons are thick. I believe they are built that way not only to keep the prisoners in, but also to keep prayers out. When I was in prison I prayed a lot, sometimes by myself, sometimes with friends who visited me, sometimes with a group of West African men who were being deported for working in Israel without a permit. But it was not my own prayers that gave me the strength I needed, it was the prayers and support of the people on the outside that helped. I would go on and name them, but there are too many to list. Besides, I don't even know ninty-five percent of the people who supported me.
All of the men I was in imprisoned with were foreign workers who had overstayed their visas and had little support from outside. Yes, their wives or parents knew of their detentions, but were not in any position to help them other than send money. Other men had expired passports and could not have them renewed because their government would not issue them new passports, or their embassies no longer existed in Israel. In these cases, the United Nations would offer help.
Unlike these men, there are others here who might have support, but not know why they are jailed. Palestinian prisoners, often have support outside of prison, but do not know why they are in jail. Under Israeli law, it is legal to detain a Palestinian for up to six months without him knowing why. Because I was also held without knowing why, for seventeen days, I can relate to how some Palestinians must feel when they are detained.
For me, this feeling was one of absurdity. I found it ridiculous that I was arrested by Israelis for being in a Palestinian city. Israel often claims they want the Palestinian Authority (PA) to be accountable and take care of its own problems within Palestinian areas. If that is the case, then it should be up to the PA, not the Israeli government, to decide whether or not internationals can enter their cities.
In the end, what helped me change my focus from the feeling of absurdity to one of patience, was knowing that there were people outside who supported me and CPT in general. Whether this support came through prayer, faxes and phone calls to various embassies and Members of Parliament, or words written to let people know what was happening, I am grateful for all the work done on my and CPT's behalf. As we say in CPT Hebron, I owe you all a lot of chocolate.
1998 - The IDF is arresting somebody in Hebron during the "peacetime" because he was "Walking while being Arab"
on Al-Shuhada street. In this picture the IDFs are writing something on the arms of this detainee with a felt-tip pen.
Testimony of a Palestinian detained by the Israeli Occupation - the Hard Way
The State of Israel is using a secret jail in which they interrogate Palestinian detainees. It is called the "Jail behind the Moon" according to what the interrogators tell the detainees who ask where they are. One interrogator working in this so-called "Jail behind the Moon" used to call himself "Captain Georg AL-Raheeb" which means as much as "Terrible George" or "George the Terrible".
George Al-Raheeb, who was a Captain of the reserve in the Israeli Army "Unit D", worked in the "Jail behind the Moon" as an interrogator with Unit 504, after the Military Attorney threw him out of his work in the army for having engaged in committing criminal actions. Mr. George Al-Raheeb interrogated the Lebanese detainee, Sheikh Mustafa Al-Derani, who was kidnapped by the Israeli Army in 1994 and transferred to the "Jail behind the Moon" No. 1391.
Mr. Al-Raheeb inserted a cane into the arse of Sheikh Al-Derani, and asked another soldier to rape him at that ocassion. Four months ago, in July, 2003, the Israeli Government choose the criminal Mr. Al-Raheeb to work as an officer in the Police Intelligence.
In another case from November, 2002, according to Bashar Jood Allah, of age 50 and who is a famous merchant from Nablus, he was detained together with Mohammad Allah, the son of his uncle. They spent 38 day at the "Jail behind the Moon". He said that the Israelis arrested him and Mohammad on their way back from Jordan to Nablus. They were transferred from the bridge at the border to the secret jail with covered eyes. They were forced to bend their heads over for the 10-15 hours of driving between the border bridge and the secret "Jail behind the Moon".
Bashar Jood Allah relates to us:
"After we arrived jail, we were handcuffed and our eyes tied over with a big swath of cloth. We heard the doors opened by an electric door opener, we had to walk in a straight path, they then put each one of us in a separate small cell with black walls, a small cement bed, a small hole in the floor for defecating and a water tap which was controlled by the jailer from outside. I was constantly hearing the sound of airplanes flying and landing. All the prisoners were denied to see anything more than their cells, we were not allowed to talk. The jailers were putting big black goggles on our eyes when they took us out of our cells and to the interrogation rooms, they did not allow us to take these goggles off until we were sitting the interrogation room."
"I was depending on my other senses for discovering the things. For example, I was feeling all the time that we were taken from our cells to another building for interrogation. The doors of this other building were opened with an electric door opener (a buzzer). The investigator told me once that I was "behind the Moon", where the prisoner Marwan Al-Bargouty had been detained and interrogated before."
"I was released after Mohammad, my uncle's son, confessed that he was a member of Hamas and not me (neither of us were actually Hamas members). It seems to me that I was detained because my uncle's son Mohammad was with during my return from Jordan. I was held for 38 days in jail for no reason. I'm an old man, I don't have anything to do with politics. I was wishing death in my cell all the time. I told the interrogators to write anything they wanted about me, I was ready to sign. The interrogators let me have the feeling that I would stay for the rest of my life in the cell. They took 3500 Shekel (about US$ 874) and they did not return this money to me."
Lawyers and other visitors are not allowed for the prisoners of the "Jail behind the Moon". Mohammad Allah has not been released, he is still detained without more reason than the false confession of belonging to Hamas extracted from him. Bashar Jood Allah is still waiting for the return of the 3500 Shekels taken from him by his jailers as of this writing.