Israel Reinstates Life Imprisonment Sentence to Two Released Prisoners

RAMALLAH, March 23, 2015 (WAFA) – Israel has recently re-arrested two Palestinian prisoners, who were released as part of the prisoners swap of 2011, and are set to serve their original life imprisonment sentences, said the Palestinian Authority’s Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs.

The Committee said prisoner Khaled Ghidan, a 50-year-old from the village of Qubia near Ramallah, was ordered to serve the remaining 24 years of his original 40-year sentence. Ghidan had served 16 years in Israeli jails before he was released as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoners swap deal in 2011.

A total of 1,027 Palestinians were freed by Israel under the terms of the 2011 swap arrangement.

Meanwhile, Prisoner Nidal Abdul-Haqq, 32 years old from Nablus, was also set to serve his original life sentence. He served eight years before he was released with other prisoners, reported the Committee.

Both Ghidan and Abdul-Haqq were re-arrested along with hundreds of Hamas and Islamic Jihad affiliates in June 2014, in an Israeli army crackdown following the alleged kidnapping and murder of three young Israeli settlers who disappeared near Gush Etzion, south of Bethlehem.

Until the moment, at least six prisoners were re-arrested and ordered to serve the remainder of their original life sentences, after the Israeli authorities claimed they had violated their parole.

In January 2015, local media reported on an Israeli central court in Nazareth which rejected an appeal on behalf of six Jerusalem-area prisoners who were rearrested after they had been freed in the prisoner swap in 2011.

The six were identified as, Alaa al-Din al-Bazyan, Nasser Abed Rabbo, Jamal Abu Salih, Rajab al-Tahhan, Ismail Hijazi and Adnan Maragha. According to Israeli authorities, the six had violated the terms of the deal upon which they were freed.

They were re-arrested and the Israeli intelligence decided that they would complete the original lifetime sentences they were serving before they were freed.

More than 50 swap prisoners were rearrested in June 2014, who remain held either under administrative detention – without indictment or trial – or are awaiting a military court.

The arrests were made based on a 2009 military article that enables Israeli prosecutors to push for reinstating prisoners’ original sentences if they commit an offence. In these cases, neither the prisoner nor the lawyer is informed of the evidence that can be used to incarcerate them again.

In 2013, a team of Palestinian lawyers petitioned Israel’s high court regarding Article 186 of military order 1651, the regulation that particularly affected those released in the Shalit deal. Addameer, a local prisoner human rights group, called it an “unjustified” act that “undermines the protection of prisoners and ex-prisoners”.

A total of 63 re-arrested prisoners went on a hunger strike in September 2014 to demand their release; however they remain behind bars until the moment as Israel refuses to discuss their situation, Israeli Haaretz daily reported.

Even though the re-arrested prisoners were once sentenced to jail, the mass arrest which took place in 2014 is considered a form of collective punishment as the prisoners were re-arrested without any proper evidence that relates them to any alleged crime, in particular with Hamas’ ongoing denial of its involvement in the alleged killings.

Israel suspected Hamas affiliates Marwan Kawasme and Amer Abu Aysha to be behind the alleged operation; however the two died in what Israeli army described as “an exchange of fire” in Hebron.

The third suspect, Hussam Kawasme, was arrested on July 11 and indicted with murder of the three youths, based on his confessions.

Despite of Kawasme’s confession for which he received three life sentences, Israel continued its policy of collective punishment and reinstating sentences based on alleged offences.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) said that the “wave of arrests, attacks, killings and total closure of large parts of the West Bank following the disappearance of three Israeli settlers is a clear form of collective punishment against the Palestinian people.”

It detailed, “[The mass arrest] indicates Israel’s intention to impose punitive measures against large portions of the Palestinian population in violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibiting reprisals against protected persons and their property, as well as collective punishment.”