Palestinians denounce torture of prisoner Samer Arbid and demand his release

Samer Arbid was transferred to a hospital and remains in a critical condition after being tortured during interrogation by the Israeli intelligence service

October 02, 2019 by Peoples Dispatch
A protest was held outside Hadassah Hospital to demand the immediate release of Samer Arbid on October 1. Photo: Activestills

Palestinian human rights and social organizations are mobilizing on the streets and on social media to seek the immediate release of Samer Arbid, a Palestinian prisoner who is hospitalized and in critical condition. They have specifically called on the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to take urgent measures to protect the life of Arbid. They are also demanding that Israel end its torture of Palestinian detainees and prisoners.

Samer Arbid was abducted by Israeli special forces on September 25 from near his workplace in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. Israeli occupation forces brutally beat him up with their guns while arresting him. Following his violent arrest, Arbid was taken to the al-Mascobiyya interrogation center in Jerusalem and was issued an order which banned him from meeting his lawyer. Human rights organizations report that he was tortured extensively at the interrogation center by officers of the intelligence agency, Shin Bet.

The day after his arrest, Samer was brought to court without his lawyer, and during the proceedings he reported suffering from severe pain, constant vomiting and an inability to consume food. Samer, a 44-year-old father of three, was moved to the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem on September 27, but neither his lawyer nor his family were notified until the next day. Addameer, the Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, which is providing Arbid’s legal council, reported that they received a call on Saturday night from an interrogator at the al-Mascobiyya center who said Arbid was being transferred to the Hadassah Hospital and that he was in a critical condition.

The same night, on September 28, Shin Bet released a statement to the press admitting that they used extreme and exceptional techniques in their interrogation of Arbid. These techniques are classified by many human rights organizations as torture. Addameer has highlighted that “The prohibition against torture in international conventions and agreements was unequivocal in its interpretation” and that “according to the Rome Statute, Articles 8, 7, torture amounts to a war crime and when systematic and wide-spread, to a crime against humanity.”

Adbid’s lawyer was only allowed to see him at 1.30 am on Sunday, September 29 and he reported that Samer was “unconscious, had several broken ribs, marks were all over his body, and he suffers a severe kidney failure.”

On October 1, protesters gathered outside the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem to demand that Samer be released immediately. The protest was repressed by Israeli police and two were detained.

قوات الاحتلال تعتقل الشاب نضال عبود والشابة صمود ابو خضير من امام مستشفى هداسا العيسوية خلال مظاهرة مساندة للبطل الاسير سامر عربيد.

Gepostet von ‎مركز قلنديا الإعلامي‎ am Dienstag, 1. Oktober 2019

In the West Bank, a mobilization was held at the ICRC headquarters in Al-Bireh to demand that the organization visit Arbid and take immediate measures to ensure his safety. Following the protest at their headquarters, the organization posted on Twitter  “The ICRC is aware of ongoing media reports in relation to Samer Arbid’s critical condition and alleged ill-treatment. We take such allegations very seriously” and “We are following up with the Israeli authorities and are in touch with them to organize a visit as soon as possible. We are also following up in relation to the allegations circulating.” However, they have yet to take concrete action.

Protesters outside ICRC headquarters in Al-Bireh.

The brazen repression of Palestinians by Israeli occupation forces has been on the rise in the past couple of months. Palestinian human rights organizations have reported that in August 2019, at least 470 Palestinians were detained by Israeli forces and that in September, over 500 were detained.

As of Monday, there are also seven Palestinian prisoners on a hunger strike to demand an end to administrative detention which is the provision under which Israel imprisons hundreds of Palestinians without charges or trial for extended periods of time.