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The appalling loss of humanity

by C/O Diogenes Monday, Jun. 16, 2003 at 10:30 PM

"Instead of apologizing for not letting me see my son, they won't even let me have the photographs. I never believed things would come to this," al-Ahmar said on the weekend in a telephone call from prison. "Do you know what I felt when the judge refused to let me have the photos? That I am living in the age of slavery, when children were taken from their fathers as soon as they were born."

The appalling loss of humanity

By Gideon Levy

Last Monday, attorney Leah Tsemel wanted to give

some photographs to her client, who was standing a

few meters from her in the military courtroom at

the Ofer base near Ramallah.

The photographs were of Quds,

the firstborn son of

administrative detainee Abed

al-Ahmar, who is being held in

custody without trial. Quds was

born two months ago, while his

father was in military custody.

Military judge Major Ronen

Atzmon refused to allow the

photos to be passed to

al-Ahmar, who has never seen his child. Atzmon

was unwilling to assume the security

responsibility for such a move.

This incident may seem trivial in view of the

mutual bloodbath of the past few days, but it

is precisely these minor events that show the

level of cruelty that the Israeli occupation

has reached. The story of our moral

deterioration is to be found here, no less than

in the acts of killing.

Al-Ahmar can't see his newborn son because

family visits to security prisoners were banned

three years ago and have not been reinstated.

The fact that his wife is a Jewish Israeli is

of no help. Thousands of Palestinian prisoners

and detainees have been totally cut off from

their families for three years without a

telephone call or a visit. There are not many

regimes in the world that treat their prisoners

this way.

Last week, al-Ahmar's administrative detention

was extended for another six months for the

17th time (not consecutively); he is one of

about 1,000 detainees being held today without

trial. It has to be said again that, if the

defense establishment has any material against

al-Ahmar and the other administrative

detainees, it must put them on trial. If not,

they must be set free.

"Instead of apologizing for not letting me see

my son, they won't even let me have the

photographs. I never believed things would come

to this," al-Ahmar said on the weekend in a

telephone call from prison. "Do you know what I

felt when the judge refused to let me have the

photos? That I am living in the age of slavery,

when children were taken from their fathers as

soon as they were born."

Still, al-Ahmar's fate is better than that of

Asmaa Abu al-Haija, a 37-year-old woman from

the Jenin refugee camp. She, too, is being held

in prison without trial; no one, including her

lawyer Tamar Peleg, knows why. Meanwhile, her

five children are abandoned in the refugee

camp. Their father and older brother are also

in prison, having been convicted of being Hamas


Al-Haija has a tumor in her head, which gives

her headaches and a partial loss of vision.

According to recent testimonies from Neve Tirza

women's prison, she sleeps on the floor because

the blinding headaches make it impossible for

her to sleep in the bunk bed in her cell.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) says the

prison authorities have so far denied her

medical treatment of any kind. An urgent

request submitted by the group's Michal Bar-Or

to the head of the Prison Service's health

department, Dr. Alex Adler, to give al-Haija a

CT test at the urging of her Palestinian

doctor, went unanswered for weeks, until a

"prisoner's petition" was filed.

A Prisons Service spokeswoman, Hanna Nitzan,

said in response that the prisoner was examined

and is receiving medical treatment. Al-Haija's

lawyer said the arrest warrant issued against

her by the military commander of the region

referred to the prisoner as a male: "He is

endangering the security of the region." No one

bothered to change the standard text.

But the cruelest aspect of al-Haija's story is

that she is not allowed to phone her five

children, the youngest of whom is a 6-year-old

girl. Five children remain without a father and

a mother, and it does not even occur to the

prison authorities, in view of the harsh family

circumstances, to consider the possibility to

depart from the regulations prohibiting

security prisoners from making phone calls.

The official response: "The security prisoner is

denied telephone calls because of a procedure

that applies to all the security prisoners in

Israel." Has no one seen fit to show a modicum

of compassion, at least for the children who

have been left without their parents and

without a house, which was destroyed by

missiles in an IDF operation?

A state that prevents a prisoner who has been

held in custody for years without trial from

receiving photographs of a son he has never

seen? That prevents a woman who is under

detention without trial from phoning her

children, whose father and brother are also in

prison? We are even capable of this. This has

nothing to do with the war against terrorism.

The battle against the murderous terrorist

attacks cannot justify such behavior. Even at a

time when Hamas is perpetrating horrific

suicide bombings, Israel is liquidating people

and everything is going up in flames, we must

not ignore what appear to be relatively

small-scale incidents that reflect such

appalling loss of humanity.

Report this post as:

Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 3 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
Now we know... Diogenes Monday, Jun. 16, 2003 at 10:31 PM
Terrorist Muslimes are Peaceful murderers Real Islam is Real Evil Wednesday, Jun. 18, 2003 at 6:25 PM
Those MOHAMMED: AN EXAMPLE of ISLAM’ FOUNDER AND HIS TERRORISTIC MASS MURDERS Muhammad called for their death Wednesday, Jun. 18, 2003 at 6:31 PM

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