On November 2, the Palestinian Preventive Security Forces of Ramallah broke into the house of Suha Jebara (Jbara) in the town of Turmusaya, north of Ramallah, to arrest her without any official documents. The scene created a state of terror among her family.
Jebara, 30 years old and a mother to three kids who has American citizenship, was detained in a Palestinian jail in Jericho, and is charged with “providing financial assistance to the families of poor and wounded people in Gaza.” Last week, Jebara announced that she had started an open hunger strike as a result of the continuous illegal detention and heavy torture that she has been subjected to for 26 days by Palestinian Security Forces.
A source who is close to the family, and asked not to be named, told Palestinian press the details of the arrest of Jebara. He explained that the officer in charge of Preventive Security Forces told them originally that the arrest would not exceed fifteen minutes, and that they should wait and drink a cup of coffee with her.
“We want to drink a cup of coffee with you” is a well-known statement that has a very negative and scary connotation among Palestinians, especially if it was said by an officer who is part of the Palestinian Preventive Security Forces. This is often relayed by phone, so that they can drag the accused down to the interrogation headquarters without any official documents to legalize the interrogation or the process of imprisonment.
The source added that “under threat and by heavy force, Suha accompanied the security forces, and nobody informed us where they were going to take her.”
Fifteen minutes passed, then two hours, and then five hours, but Suha didn’t show up. Her family became even more concerned. They immediately headed to the headquarters of the Ramallah Security Forces. While there, they were informed that she had been transferred to the headquarters of the Security Committee in Jericho.
Since 2007, the headquarters of the Security Committee in Jericho has become a symbol of brutality and humiliation to Palestinians. This jail is well-known among Palestinians as the “Guantanamo of Palestine.” It has very negative and terrifying connotations, after the horrible stories of heavy torture and death, which started spreading outside the walls of the jail. Hundreds of Palestinians spent months and sometimes even years under heavy and inhumane torture in this place for no reason, but were sent there since they opposed Abbas, criticized him or his regime.
However, the family was surprised by the fact that Jebara was arrested at the Security Committee headquarters in Jericho, since it doesn’t have a specific section for women detainees. Three days later, the family was able to see their daughter and sit with her, but under restricted observation by Palestinian Security Officers.
SUHA TOLD HER family that she had been subjected to heavy torture and was beaten up heavily during the interrogation. She showed her family the bruises all over her body, especially on her chest.
“During the first three days of interrogation, they didn’t allow her to sleep for more than ten minutes as a part of the heavy and inhumane torture that she was subjected to.” The source added that “the Palestinian Security Officers threatened to beat her up if she opened her mouth and say anything about what she went through during the interrogation.”
In the beginning, the family was reluctant to issue a public statement about their daughter’s suffering, in an attempt to end the matter. But after a week since the arrest of their daughter, the family decided to take legal measures against the Palestinian Security Forces. Suha and her family accused the Palestinian Public Persecutor of illegal collaboration with the Preventive Security Forces, since she was transferred to the headquarters of the Security Committee in Jericho without receiving a fair trial or appearing before a judge.
Furthermore, several Palestinian Preventive Forces officers threatened to send Suha’s father and brother to jail if she hired any lawyers. As the source explained, the officers forced her to sign papers without letting her read them, and beat her, threatening to send additional family members to jail.
Suha’s father is a Palestinian businessman who lives in Panama, and arrived in the West Bank last week, bringing the Ambassador of Panama in Tel Aviv to visit his daughter. However, the jail’s security refused to let the ambassador in to see her.
The ambassador promised the family that he would take legal and diplomatic actions against the Palestinian Security Forces, according to the source.
Amnesty International has called for an impartial, independent and impartial investigation into Suha Jabara’s statements about the torture that she was subjected to in Jericho Jail. The organization has also called on all security officials to be held accountable for torture and abusive treatment, including punitive and disciplinary measures. The report called for immediate access to Suha, allowing her to meet with her lawyers individually and privately, to receive much needed medical care, and to protect her from the torture she was subjected to.
SUHA’S DEFENSE TEAM confirmed that an illegal confession was taken from Suha under heavy torture and difficult conditions. The lawyer, Muhannad Karajah, said that Suha was transferred after her arrest to Palestine Medical Center in Ramallah, where she went through several medical examinations. Karajah was assured that the heavy torture caused Suha to suffer from neurological difficulties and nervous strains.
Karajeh published a copy of a medical report issued by the Palestine Medical Center about receiving serious treatment for the nervous strain that she got after her arrest in Jericho jail.
The defense team said that the arrest of Suha had no other context, but was simply for political reasons.
However, Suha’s husband said that her children suffer from heavy psychological difficulties ever since she was arrested. The children do not approach their mother anymore, worse yet, the scene of arresting their mother in front of them caused them additional anxieties.
As a Palestinian resident of West Bank – I’m publishing this op-ed while my hands are shaking for the same reasons that Suha and thousands of Palestinians are afraid of: We are at risk of being subjected to heavy torture by the Palestinian Security Forces, if we open our mouths. We risk our lives if we criticize Abbas’s regime or his Security Forces’ human rights abuse record towards Palestinians.
A few months ago, I wrote a similar op-ed about torturing Palestinians who demonstrated against Abbas’s sanctions on Gaza. Last month, Human Right Watch issued a similar report revealing the truth of how the PA, and Hamas and Fatah leaders, treat and torture Palestinian journalists, and the story goes on and on.
Suha Jebara wasn’t the first victim of this inhumane torture and humiliation, and will not be the least. One thing which made me wonder was this: Will I write about someone else? Or will this be the last time I’ll be able to talk? Will the deaf Western World - the main supporter to these same security forces - understand for a moment, what Abbas and his regime are doing?
Will the West finally start taking serious actions against Abbas’s regime? Does someone need to die in order for the world to take action? Can’t we do something while Suha is still alive?
And finally: will I find someone who can write about me if I’m invited to drink a cup of coffee by the same Palestinian Security Forces? The writer is a university student who lives in the West Bank.
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