(Haifa, Israel) Tonight, 1 June 2010, the Attorney General's Office submitted its response to the extraordinary petition for habeas corpus and demand for information concerning the passengers on the intercepted Gaza Freedom Flotilla filed yesterday to the Supreme Court of Israel by human rights organizations Adalah, The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) and Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (PHR-I). The human rights organizations demanded that the state provide the names of people who were killed and injured; the names, locations and conditions of those detained; the legal status of the passengers on the ships; and access to those arrested, detained or in hospital without the restrictive pre-condition of requiring powers of attorney.
In its response, the state continued its policy of concealing the identities and locations of the dead and the wounded, displaying an utter lack of concern for the enormous suffering caused to their families, who are desperate to know what has happened to their loved ones.
The state provided a barely legible list in Hebrew of the names and legal status – either "waiting to be deported "or "detained for criminal prosecution" – of 488 detainees at the Ela prison in Beer el-Sabe (Beer Sheva); no other information on the remaining detainees or their legal status was provided. The state's list did not include a breakdown of the detained activists by their country of origin, but rather classified the individuals predominantly as "foreigners" or "from Arab countries."
The state claims that the reason that it has thus far failed to release complete lists of the detainees, wounded and deceased is the fact that the process of identifying the wounded and deceased has yet to be completed. This argument is unconvincing, however, given that almost two days have passed since the incident and the forced entry of the activists to Israel by the Israeli military.
Furthermore the state has repeatedly claimed that in order to notify family members it must first make a positive identification, but that some of the detained and/or wounded activists are refusing to identify themselves to the Israeli authorities. The petitioners argue that notification should be provided about the activists who have identified themselves to Israeli authorities. Furthermore, the issue of activists who refuse to identify themselves could be resolved if Israeli authorities provided them with reasonable access to attorneys.
Although the petitioners have tried to make contact with the dozens of wounded being held in hospitals, and attempted to provide them with legal and medical assistance, they have been refused access.
The petition was filed by Adalah Attorney Orna Kohn. A hearing has been scheduled before the Supreme Court of Israel for tomorrow, Tuesday 2 June 2010, at 16:00.
Case citation: HCJ 4193/10, Adalah et al v. Minister of Defense, et. al (case pending)
For more information on the case, click here.