pr 08-06-04

Adalah Statement
10 May 2010

Following Adalah’s Motion on Behalf of Arab Journalists, the I’lam Center and Human Rights Organizations, Magistrates’ Court Lifts Gag Order on Detention of Arab Political Activists Ameer Makhoul and Dr. Omar Saeed


Adalah: The GSS is Attempting to Criminalize the Public Political and Social Activity of Arab Citizens; Inflating the Charges against Them Aims to Legitimize the Unjust Gag Order and Ban on Meeting Lawyers

Today, 10 May 2010, the Petakh Tikva Magistrates’Court lifted a gag order placed on the detentions of two Arab political activists, Dr. Omar Saeed and Ameer Makhoul, and revealed the charges made against them by the GSS (the General Security Services or Shin Bet) of meeting with a foreign agent and spying.

Dr. Omar Saeed lives in the village of Kufr Kanna and has a long history of political activism. He has a Ph.D. degree in pharmacology and runs a leading company in natural medicine. 

Ameer Makhoul, a Palestinian Arab citizen of Israel, is a political activist and human rights defender. He is the General Director of Ittijah, a network of Arab NGOs in Israel, which is in special consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). He is also an active member of several coalitions and networks of international and regional organizations. In addition, he serves as the Chairman of the Public Committee for the Protection of Political Freedoms in the framework of the High Follow-up Committee for the Arab Citizens of Israel. In this position, he engages primarily in monitoring restrictions on the political freedoms of Arab citizens of the state, including its leaders, denouncing these restrictions and voicing sharp and open criticism thereof in and abroad.

Details of the arrests and searches

Security forces arrested Dr. Omar Saeed on 24 April 2010 while he was leaving the country. The Magistrates’ Court in Petakh Tikva has since extended his detention several times while preventing him from meeting a lawyer. Sixteen days after his arrest, during which time he was subjected to continuous interrogation and allowed a very limited amount of sleep, the security services permitted Dr. Saeed to meet his lawyers, Attorney Orna Kohn (of Adalah), Attorney Hussein Abu Hussein, and Attorney Hassan Jabereen (of Adalah). Dr. Saeed stated that he denies all of the charges made against him and gave a clear testimony to his interrogators that he has never worked for any particular organization, and that all of his activity is open and motivated by purely political goals.

On 6 May 2010, at 3:10 am in the middle of night, sixteen GSS agents and Israeli police officers entered the Makhoul family home in Haifa and arrested Mr. Ameer Makhoul. They conducted an extensive search of the home, confiscating documents, maps, the family’s four mobile phones (belonging to Mr. Makhoul, his wife and his two daughters), laptops, the hard drives from his daughters’ desktop computers, a camera and a tape recorder. The arrest and search orders cited vague “security” reasons. On the same night, the police and security forces raided the office of Ittijah and confiscated documents and computers. The security services, with the approval of the Petakh Tikva Magistrates’ Court, have prevented Mr. Makhoul from meeting a lawyer since his arrest.

The arrest follows the imposition of a travel ban on Mr. Makhoul by the Ministry of the Interior on 21 April 2010 that prohibits him from leaving the country for a period of two months.

The decision to ban Mr. Makhoul from traveling abroad based on emergency regulations – Regulation 6 of the Emergency Regulations (Foreign Travel) of 1948 – and without conducting any prior suitable, transparent and fair hearing is illegal and violates his rights to freedom of movement and due process. On 25 April 2010 Adalah demanded that the Minister of Foreign Affairs cancel the gag order on the case.

Adalah Attorney Orna Kohn represented Dr. Omar Saeed and Mr. Ameer Makhoul in relation to the ban on their meeting a lawyer, in full cooperation with Attorney Hussein Abu Hussein, who defended the two men with regard to the extension of their detention. Attorneys Kohn and Abu Hussein submitted numerous appeals, which were all rejected by the District Court in Petakh Tikva.

Adalah demands the lifting of the gag orders on behalf of Arab journalists and I’lam Media Center

On 22 April 2010, the Petakh Tikva Magistrates’ Court approved the request of the police and GSS to place an unjust and sweeping gag order preventing the publication of any information about the interrogation and detention in the Israeli media. On 6 May 2010, Adalah Attorney Abeer Baker filed a motion to the court to lift the gag order on behalf of the I’lam Media Center and Arab newspapers Al-Ittihad, Kul al-Arab, Al-Medina, Hadith al-Nas, Fasl al-Maqal, Sawt al-Haq w’al-Hurriya, Al-‘Inwan al-Raisi and Ma’a al-Hadath, as well as news websites Arabs48, Bokra net, Radio Shams, and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) later joined the demand, as well as Israeli media outlets.

Political persecution and the law

It is Adalah’s view that the conduct of the Israeli security services is arbitrary and political, and violates the basic principles of fair procedures and standards of human rights. Furthermore, inflating the charges made against Mr. Ameer Makhoul and Dr. Saeed is aimed at legitimizing the unjust gag order that was issued on 22 April 2010 and the blackout placed by the GSS on each of their cases from the outset, and at silencing the voice of public protest. Both detainees are being held in harsh conditions of confinement. They have been prevented from meeting their lawyers and completely isolated from the outside world.

Adalah regards the charge of meeting a foreign agent as a loose charge that allows the GSS to criminalize almost any Arab who establishes legitimate relations with political and social activists in the Arab world.

The arrests of Mr. Makhoul and Dr. Saeed come at a time of heightened racism against Arab citizens of Israel, which has resulted in the recent indictment of two Arab Members of Knesset – MKs Mohammed Barakeh and Said Naffa’, following the previous indictment of Sheikh Raed Salah, the Head of the Islamic Movement in Israel – for political activities, and of attacks against human rights organizations in Israel working to defend Palestinian rights.













Print this page Close this window