Israeli Authorities or Cyber Police? Ola Haniyeh Arrested with no Charges
In the early morning hours of Monday March 26th, a large force of Israeli soldiers surrounded the Haniyeh house in Al-Bireh, located in the heart of the West Bank’s capital city of Ramallah. After setting up a perimeter around the house, 12 well-armed soldiers kicked down the Haniyeh’s door and entered the home.
“They broke the door. They didn’t knock. They didn’t ring. They broke the door and we found them in the middle of our bedroom,” says 26 year-old Dima Haniyeh.
After confining Dima’s parents to their bedroom, the soldiers proceeded on to the next bedroom shared by Dima and her 22 year-old sister, Ola.
Right off the bat, Dima recalls, it was clear the soldiers had an apparent interest in her young sister. “They wanted to search us both and they wanted Ola’s mobile phone and laptop.”
A female soldier was brought in to search them both.
Coincidentally, Ola’s phone had been lost several days before but the soldiers didn’t believe her.
“If you don’t give us your phone we are going to destroy the room. We will destroy every room until we find it,” Dima remembers one of the soldiers having said.
They did just that—, emptying every drawer onto the floor, flipping the beds, and clearing the shelves. Eventually, they told Ola to get dressed. They wanted to take her with them for questioning.
Ola remembers her father saying, “Why don’t you ask her here?! You’ve been here an hour and a half and haven’t asked a single question!”
Brushing aside her father’s supplications, and in violation of Fourth Geneva Convention, the soldiers took Ola with them and brought her directly to Israel’s Askalan prison in the Naqab Desert.
Another Detainee Without Charges
Ola has been held in Askalan ever since. Although no charges have been officially filed against her, a review trial held at the Askalan military court on Thursday April 5th ruled in favor of a 7-day extension of Ola’s detention. Ola was given another trial on Wednesday April 4th which resulted in yet another detention extension for the second time, as the prosecutors and Israeli judge did not carry out an investigation as they were on a vacation. Ola’s third court extension date was given this week, with her due to appear in court on Thursday, April 19.
“She is being interrogated daily regarding internet activity. The suspicion is that the internet pages are connected to ‘security activities’”, says Amal Husein of Addameer.
Ola’s detention was up for review on Tuesday April 17th. Her family and friends are confident that she will be released, as she hasn’t been accused or charged of anything as of yet. However, given the Israeli authorities’ administrative detention track record, anything is possible.
“People have said that the Israeli authorities have taken many people because of Facebook,” says Dima. “But everyone has a Facebook. Everyone puts his or her opinion on Facebook. There is nothing serious about it… it is freedom of speech.”
Ola recently graduated with a degree in Media and Political Science from Birzeit University last Fall. “She might go to protests sometimes, as all of us do, to speak out against the occupation and to support people- nothing extraordinary,” says Dima. “All of us participate—its part of being in Palestine and living under occupation.”
“She’s a quiet girl,” continues Dima. “She is a genuine and passionate person. She has friends and is lively, but she is much more the quiet type.”
Ola’s sister Dima says that Ola had perhaps had made comments on Facebook in support of Palestinian prisoners in general and against Israel’s policy of administrative detention but had done nothing out of the ordinary. “She is a journalist. This is her job. She should be able to do that,” argues Dima.
Ola’s sister and friends are quite confident that she was arrested simply because she voiced her opinions—a scary thought in the Facebook age.
“When you don’t have charges against someone—why… how can you keep them detained?” asks Dima. “When you don’t have any serious charges, how can you break down someone’s door in the middle of the night and take them? What happens when they have a serious case? What will they do then? Its scary.”
- 1,600 Palestinian prisoners begin open-ended hunger strike in Israeli jails (alethonews.wordpress.com)
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- Israel – Israeli troops force two Palestinian TV stations to close (en.rsf.org)
- Report: 201 Palestinians Died in Israeli Jails (and more…) (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)