Israel accused of cracking down on lawyers

Israel accused of cracking down on lawyers

A Ramallah-based rights group is accusing Israeli authorities of cracking down on Palestinian lawyers, following a series of indictments and arrests of attorneys based on charges of passing information between Hamas members in and outside Israeli prisons, Al Jazeera reported.

The Palestinian Prisoners Society said the moves against the lawyers were "dangerous" and "unprecedented". "It's a scare tactic to instil fear into those who are working hard to provide the basic levels of protection for Palestinian detainees," said Qaddura Fares, the group's head.

Fares was referring to the recent indictment of a 42-year-old Palestinian-Israeli lawyer, and the arrest of six people, five of them lawyers, from East Jerusalem.

Mohammad Abed, a Galilee native, was indicted last month on charges of passing messages between detainees and the Hamas leadership, and receiving approximately one million shekels ($288,800) for his alleged services. Abed was arrested along with four others who worked for the Solidarity Foundation for Human Rights in the northern West Bank city of Nablus.

In a statement, the Shin Bet (Israel's internal security service) said the lawyer-prisoner communication was intended to help carry out attacks inside Israel. "The cynical use by terrorist groups of the policy of respecting prisoners' legal rights is particularly disturbing in light of the significant increase in the scope of terrorism in the West Bank, and particularly in the increase in plans to carry out kidnapping attacks for bargaining purposes to bring about the release of prisoners," the Shin Bet said.

In March, Shireen Issawi and four other attorneys from an East Jerusalem law firm were arrested after an Israeli police-Shin Bet investigation found that the lawyers met with clients - senior Palestinian faction members inside the country's prisons - and passed coded political messages pertaining to prisoner hunger strikes, collaborators with Israel, and military operations.

Israeli police said Issawi and her brother Midhat, who worked in the law firm's administration, were in charge of a network of attorneys who passed these letters in exchange for money. The Issawis denied all charges.

Fares said part of the lawyers' job is to carry messages between detainees and their families and that Israeli authorities are well aware of all meetings held between the attorneys and their clients inside prisons.

"The Israelis are aware of who these prisoners are," he said. "Some are leaders of Palestinian factions and they have been voted into these positions by other detainees and Israel knows this. So what's changed now?"

Jawad Bulos, who runs Palestinian Prisoners Society's legal department, said Israeli authorities have decided to "re-draw the map that identifies the interaction between lawyers and detainees", and accused the authorities of illegally taping and mistranslating client-lawyer conversations.

"The evidence being used against the lawyers was collected during a private conversation between a detainee and a lawyer," he said. "As lawyers we should ask: Is Israel secretly listening to and taping conversations, acts that are prohibited even by Israeli law?"

The Israeli prime minister's office declined to comment on the issue, and the police did not respond to several inquiries made by Al Jazeera.

Midhat and Shireen are siblings of Samer Issawi, a Palestinian detainee who was released in December 2013 after going on hunger strike for more than 250 days protesting against his incarceration.

According to the Issawis' mother, Laila, Israeli soldiers surrounded their East Jerusalem home on March 6, went through Shireen's room and confiscated a number of items, including a computer and phone. Shireen was detained that day, and is currently in HaSharon prison in Israel. All her court hearings so far have ended up in adjournment without a verdict. Her brother Midhat also remains behind bars.

Shireen, five of her siblings and both her parents have all been incarcerated at some point, with sentences ranging between six months and 22 years. "Since 1987, my entire family has only ever been united once, for just two months," Laila Issawi told Al Jazeera. "Israeli authorities started arresting my children when they were as young as 14. They would then release them for a small period of time only to detain them again."

Four other lawyers were arrested on related charges around the same time: Amr Iskafi, Nadim Gharib, Mahmoud Abu Sneineh and Amjad al-Safadi. All four were released and placed on house arrest with a 20,000 shekels ($5,700) bail and four bail guarantors, according to Palestinian prisoners rights group, Addameer.

One of the lawyers, Amjad al-Safadi, committed suicide shortly after his release. Safadi was first arrested on April 4 when he was visiting clients at Israel's Hadarim prison. He was later released, but placed on house arrest on April 24. Five days later, he took his own life. The Palestinian Prisoners Society claimed it was because he was beaten throughout his 45-day detention.

Two Israeli groups - Physicians For Human Rights-Israel (PHR-IL) and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel - have demanded an investigation into the circumstances of Safadi's death and his interrogation while in prison.

Dr Zeev Weiner, a psychiatrist and volunteer with PHR-IL said: "The death of Amjad Safadi proximate to an Israel Security Agency (ISA) interrogation could be a harsh symptom of Israel's interrogation policy. It raises difficult questions regarding the use of torture in defiance of the law and on the culture of impunity for torturers in Israel."

Torture is yet to be codified in Israeli criminal law, the groups explained, adding that a criminal investigation has never been launched into any of the approximately 850 complaints of torture submitted to the Israeli Attorney General since 2001.]

61 more coronavirus patients die in Moscow in past day
61 more coronavirus patients die in Moscow in past day
Turkey, Russia to start joint work to develop COVID-19 vaccine
Turkey, Russia to start joint work to develop COVID-19 vaccine
Russia's Aeroflot first-quarter loss widens as traffic slumps
Russia's Aeroflot first-quarter loss widens as traffic slumps
Loading Bars
Number of COVID-19 cases up in Kazakhstan
S. Korea reports 49 more cases of new coronavirus, total now at 11,590
NYPD: Officers fatally shoot man pointing gun at them
Chinese mainland reports no new domestically transmitted COVID-19 cases
Brazil’s coronavirus death toll exceeds 30,000
3 killed when helicopter hits power line in California
U.S. senator wants defense bill to ban use of military against peaceful protests
At least 11 people die, hundreds injured in US protests
Number of COVID-2019 cases across globe up by over 113,000 in past day - WHO
61 more coronavirus patients die in Moscow in past day
Turkey, Russia to start joint work to develop COVID-19 vaccine
Italy's death toll from coronavirus climbs to 33,530
Israeli missile hits test target 400 kilometers away
Spain reports no new COVID-19 deaths for 2nd consecutive day
Minnesota files civil rights charge vs police in Floyd death
Britain, EU clash over financial market access: diplomats
Paris police fire tear gas at protest of racial injustice
1 killed, 3 wounded in explosion in Kabul
UK COVID-19 deaths hit 39,369 as another 324 patients die
NYC extends curfew all week; mayor says no to National Guard
U.S. sanctions four shipping firms for transporting Venezuelan oil
Saudi Arabia reports 1,869 new COVID-19 cases, tally near 90,000
Turkey's COVID-19 cases top 165,000 as new infections drop for 5th straight day
Azerbaijan discloses number of coronavirus tests
Azerbaijan presents facts on Armenia’s crimes to UN Security Council
Serbia’s coronavirus cases reach 11,454
Azerbaijan’s Lankaran cannery talks about plans for 2020
Azerbaijani company talks production of disinfection equipment for escalators
Georgian airports preparing to receive visitors
Returning of deposits in liquidated banks starts in Azerbaijan
MFA: Armenia must put end to policy of annexation and withdraw occupying forces from Azerbaijani territories
Six Azerbaijani insurers reduced collection of premiums from Jan. through Apr. 2020
Revenues from international visits down in Georgia
Sales through Azerbaijan's Azexport website increase
15 insurers increased collection of premiums in Azerbaijan from Jan. through Apr. 2020
New fruit storage company begins operating in Georgia
Georgia talks country's public debt management policy
LUKOIL's Kazakhstan-based plant makes first oils shipments to China
Turkey talks completion date for pier construction in Istanbul
Azerbaijani Rabitabank's financial indicators many-fold exceed CBA's minimum requirements
Turkmenistan, other participants of ECT Modernization Group to ensure energy transit
Kazakhstan to start reconstruction of runways in two more airports
Azerbaijan reports 273 new COVID-19 cases
Turkey's export of fruits to France slightly up
Azerbaijan's Central Bank holds foreign exchange auction
TOP-3 non-oil export products of Azerbaijan
Georgia signs loan agreement with Asian Development Bank
Mastercard for Azerbaijan, Turkey working on creating cashless environment
Construction of first GTL plant of Uzbekistan nearing completion
Sumgait Technologies Park ships first batches of aluminum profiles to Kazakhstan
Turkey-Kazakhstan trade turnover declines
Azerbaijan’s Agricultural Insurance Fund upgrading service quality
Union of Economists of Turkmenistan creates digital technology department
CISCO conducting consultations on participation in big innovative projects in Azerbaijan (Interview)
Renewable electricity proves to cheapest as improving technologies leads to price drop
Kulevi oil terminal: Anticorrosion works completed at several facilities
Azerbaijani minister: Financially, some state-owned companies aren't stable
Iran's President urges companies involved in Justice Shares sale to ensure transparency
COVID-19-led digitalization to change how businesses operate and consumers live
PM Modi Holds Highest 'Approval Rating' Among World Leaders Handling the Pandemic: Report
Turkey-China trade turnover downgrades
Azerbaijan’s PASHA Sigorta company offers free consultations of psychologist, pediatrician
Georgia installs solar panels in over 80 villages
Work on commissioning of Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway line in Georgia continues
Turkmenistan talks laying power transmission line alongside TAP pipeline
Tender to build schools, kindergartens opens in Turkmenistan's Balkan region
Turkmenistan's Turkmengas opens tender fortesting of lab equipment
Turkish ministry allows industrial company to participate in BOTAS tenders
Finance minister: Negative effects of quarantine on Azerbaijan's economy were inevitable
China approves $20 billion mega petchem complex in Shandong oil hub
FAO, WFP to jointly support Kyrgyz rural families to combat COVID-19
Volume of ethanol handled via Turkish ports from Jan. through Apr. 2020 disclosed
Turkey's export to EU from Jan. through Apr. 2020 shrinks
EBRD eyeing optimizing debt maturity profile of Kazakhstan's Eastcomtrans
Uzbek enterprise starts construction of modern residential complex
Azerbaijani finance minister: No problems with fulfillment of state budget for 2020
Uzbekistan to sell state share in major chemical enterprise
Uzbek-Korean JV opens tender for procurement of panoramic mirrors
Iran's Plan & Budget Organization talks unemployment rate in country
China's Wuhan finds no new COVID cases, 300 asymptomatics in tests
Azerbaijan discloses data on oil, gas sectors trade turnover
Azerbaijan imposes new rules for visitors of malls
Georgia taking measures to support winemaking sector
Azerbaijan sees growth in fruit, vegetable exports
Azerbaijan starts exporting persimmon to UAE
Iran has sufficient foreign currency reserves - CBI
Trade turnover between Turkey, Uzbekistan plunges by over half in April 2020
Turkey reveals volume of fuel oil handled via local ports from Jan. through Apr. 2020
Azerbaijan discloses info on 'Single Window' exports
EBRD to support distribution network enlargement of Kazakhstan's beverage producer
Volume of problem loans shrinks in Azerbaijan
Sales volumes stabilize in Azerbaijani foreign exchange market
Russia's Penoplex to increase thermal insulation polymers production in Uzbekistan
Turkmenistan to increase capacity of its energy sector
ADB supporting business restructuring of Kazakhstan’s largest power generation company
Azerbaijani Parliament adopts amendment on fines for not wearing masks
Kazakhstan’s Aktau seaport to buy welding equipment spare parts via tender
Kazakh-Turkish JV opens tender to buy spare parts for pumps
Turkmen officials talk progress of agricultural work in country
Iran reveals its COVID-19 data for June 2
All news