Palestinian human rights and social organizations are mobilizing on the streets and social media to demand that Israel end its torture of Palestinian detainees and prisoners and for the immediate release of Samer Arbid. They have also specifically called on the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to intervene and take urgent measures to protect the life of detainee Samer Arbid who is currently hospitalized and in critical condition.
Samer Arbid was abducted by Israeli special forces on Wednesday September 25 in front of his workplace in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. During the arrest, he was brutally beaten by Israeli occupation forces who used their guns to hit 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 with his lawyer. Human rights organizations report that he was tortured extensively at the interrogation center by Israeli intelligence officers of 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 inability to consume food. Samer, a 44 year old husband and father of three, was moved to the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem on Friday September 27, but nor his lawyer nor his family were notified until the next day on September 28. 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 his health was in critical condition.
The same night, on September 28, Shin Bet, the Israeli intelligence department, 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 on Sunday September 29 at 1:30am and he reported that Samer was “unconscious, had several broken ribs, mark 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.
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 they 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 last 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 by Israeli forces.
As of Monday, there are also seven Palestinian prisoners on a hunger strike to demand an end to administrative detention which is the figure under which Israel imprisons hundreds of Palestinians without charges or a trial for extended periods of time.