Adalah to AG: Release Sheikh Ra'ed Salah and Other Islamic Movement Leaders and Activists from Illegal Detention


On 13 May 2003, Adalah sent a letter to Attorney General Elyakim Rubenstein and State Attorney Edna Arbel requesting that they instruct the police to release Sheikh Ra'ed Salah, the head of the Islamic Movement, and 14 other Islamic Movement leaders and activists, following their illegal arrest and detention. Early in the morning, on 13 May 2003, approximately 1,000 police and security forces raided the homes of Islamic Movement members in Umm al-Fahem and placed them under arrest. Scores of documents and computers were also confiscated from the offices of various charity organizations associated with the Islamic Movement.

In the letter, Adalah Attorney Marwan Dalal argued that the arrests, undertaken as a military operation against citizens, marked a further escalation in the government's policy against leaders, and social and political activists from among the Palestinian minority in Israel. The Islamic Movement in Israel is a legitimate political movement supported by tens of thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel.

The stated reason for these arrests is that members of the Islamic Movement are "supporting terror" by transferring funds to charity organizations in the 1967 Occupied Territories. Adalah wrote that: "It appears that the reigning view in the corridors of power nowadays is that any help to Palestinian civilians suffering from the daily tribulations of the occupation regime is aiding terror." Further, Adalah added, it is unclear how humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, suffering daily from the military occupation, can be considered a criminal action. While the government may express its dissatisfaction with this type of humanitarian aid, it does not have the right to use force to prevent it. The government's actions violate both the penal laws and the detention laws, which mandate that an arrest be supported by actual evidence regarding a specific, alleged offense.

Adalah also argued that the security forces' actions and the government's decision to invade the space of civil society in Israel is unlawful, as it is politically motivated and without basis in law. This type of invasion violates the Islamic Movement members' basic rights to freedom of speech and freedom of association.