Ayman Nasser, a Palestinian human rights activist, has been jailed indefinitely by Israel with neither a trial nor even formal charges being filed against him. This is a bitter irony that is emblematic of the brutal military dictatorship enforced by Israel in occupied Palestine, for Nasser is the legal coordinator for Addameer, a human rights group which focuses on promoting the rights of Palestinian prisoners.
A man who sought for nothing more than the basic human rights of the prisoners to be upheld has become a prisoner himself. His future is now uncertain.
Israel has put him under what it calls “administrative detention”, its euphemism for systemic imprisonment without charge or trial for an indefinite period; there is no limit to the number of times that these orders can be extended. The law under which such “detentions” operate dates back to the British Empire’s occupation of Palestine under a League of Nations Mandate. It means that an Israeli army officer, in coordination with Israeli spy agencies, can simply order any Palestinian to be imprisoned. It is proof of the apartheid nature of the state of Israel that these internment orders are almost entirely reserved for use against Palestinians, including those who are Israeli citizens.
This is the same regime which has the chutzpah to propagandise itself as the “only democracy in the Middle East”. Nothing could be further from the truth. Israel is not a democracy; it is an apartheid regime that discriminates against Palestinians systematically simply for not being Jewish.
Earlier this month, Israeli army thugs broke into Nasser’s home in the middle of the night, Addameer has explained. His family were rounded up and interrogated, before Nasser himself was taken away. His advocacy for human rights has clearly been effective, and as such he is considered by the Israeli occupation authorities to be a threat to the continuation of their brutal military dictatorship.
The truth is that Israel considers any challenge to its regime to be illegitimate, regardless of the methods that Palestinians and their supporters use. While Israel’s typical PR line is to claim that it is only targeting “terrorists”, Nasser’s example and that of thousands like him, give the lie to such claims.
The silence of the Israeli and international media on how Israel has thrown Ayman Nasser into its dungeons without even the most cursory veneer of respect for human rights is shocking, although not surprising. He is not the only human rights defender imprisoned by Israel in petty revenge for daring to call for basic human rights for the Palestinian people. A whole series of Addameer staff and supporters have been interned by Israel without charge or trial in the same way. Several remain in Israel’s dungeons, including board member and leftist lawmaker in the Palestinian Authority’s parliament Khalida Jarrar, along with field researcher Salah Hamouri, a French citizen who has been in Israeli detention without charge or trial for more than a year.
Addameer and Amnesty International have issued urgent calls for action to free Nasser. You can help the campaign for his release by following the guidance document that Amnesty has been distributing this month. The human rights group’s suggested courses of action include sending appeals to Israeli ministers and the Israeli army commander who is in charge of the occupation regime in the West Bank. Amnesty’s helpful document includes their contact details.
Appeals to the better nature of such people will, of course, almost certainly fail. However, it is good for them to know that we all know what they are up to. They will feel the international pressure to release him.
Israel should be compelled to end its regime of systemic racism and occupation in Palestine immediately. The basic requirements of morality and justice insist on nothing less.
One day, Palestine will be liberated, and then you will ask yourself, what did I do to help support the Palestinians? Did I help support this righteous struggle for freedom, equality and the right of return? Or did I do nothing? Support Palestine today, and help to end the Israeli occupation.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.