16 December 2009
A demonstration was held outside Jelemeh prison in Haifa today in protest against the arrest and imprisonment of grassroots activist Wa’el Al Faqeeh Abu As Sabe. Demonstrators planted olive trees and hung Palestinian flags and banners outside the prison gates, calling for the release of Palestinian political prisoners. The night that the army arrested Wa’el Al Faqeeh, they also arrested 8 other grassroot activists from Nablus and surrounding areas.
15km out of Haifa sits the notorious Jelemeh prison, known for its interrogation and ill-treatment of Palestinian political prisoners. International and Israeli activists gathered under grey skies outside the prison yesterday, beating drums and chanting pro-Palestinian slogans. Activists planted three olive trees outside the gates of the prison, in tribute to similar actions organised by Al Faqeeh in numerous West Bank villages. Palestinian flags, along with three large banners bearing hand-painted depictions of Naji Al-Ali’s iconic Handala cartoon of a Palestinian refugee child were hung on the prison’s fence. Protesters were pushed and told repeatedly to leave by Israeli police officers and prison guards, also threatening to confiscate cameras when activists attempted to photograph the events.
How long Israel will hold Al Faqeeh under detention is unknown. At present no charges have been made, police choosing to detain him for “interrogation” purposes until a trial is held.
Al Faqeeh was taken from his home at 1am on 8 December when 50 Israeli soldiers entered his house in the north of Nablus, aiming their weapons at Al Faqeeh and his family. From there he was transferred to Jelemeh prison in Haifa, where he has been under interrogation from Israeli officials. As an active campaigner for human rights and non-violent resistance, Al Faqeeh’s imprisonment as a political prisoner is obvious.
While Al Faqeeh’s active role in non-violent resistance throughout the Nablus region gained him the trust and respect of Palestinian communities, it may well have sealed his fate with Israeli forces, targeting those who speak out against the occupation.