Israeli Justice, Palestinian Professors

By Abu Salma
September 1990; page 13; Volume 2, No. 1

Dr. Samir Hazboun, chair of the Economics Department at Birzeit University, was detained on the evening of October 9, 1988. The following is excerpted from his detention story:

"About fifty soldiers came to the house."

When he demanded to see a detention warrant the arresting officer replied: "We don't have democracy and we do not need it."

"I was put in a kind of cage and I guess it was about 3:30 am when an intelligence officer came and took me ... He sat me on a chair and began asking me questions. 'So you want the PLO as your representative?' I said to him that I did and he replied that I would pay for that ... He told me to sit on the floor and carried the interview with me sitting on the floor. After about half an hour he tookk me back to the cage."

"I asked to use the WC. They said it was forbidden."

Dr. Hazboun was detained for six months in the desert detention camp of Ansar III. He defended himself during the appeal session:

"I took the opportunity to put forward my beliefs: that I am an academic and that I support a peaceful solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict; that I am opposed to the use of violence ... and that I believe in the two-state solution ... as a just basis to achieve peace. I asked the court if it was illegal to announce one's beliefs and if it was not, then I should not be in prison. I was met with no response whatsoever in court and they upheld my detention order for the six month period."

"Administrative detention for a period of six months. The reason given on the order was 'incitement.'"

"I was put in section A. Each section consisted of 10 tents, with 25 or 26 detainees to each tent ... There was no water provided."

"They took us out of the tent for roll call. They sat us on the ground with our hands behind our backs. This happened in all weather. Military police circulated amongst us."

"I was taken to a room away from the section ... There was a man I thought was a military officer ... He introduced himself, 'Hello I am Professor Amon Cohen' ... He told me he just wanted to ask me some questions - it was not an interrogation session. He added ... 'what is your opinion of the declaration of independence? ... Is it an economic or social crisis that is the cause of the Intifada? ... I told him that I had no idea why I was there, in Ansar III that is. He replied that as far as he knew they had nothing against me..."

On the day of the declaration of independence of the Palestinian State:

"It was not until the afternoon that we started singing national songs to celebrate the new state. We were punished by having our cigarettes confiscated and not being allowed any toilet paper."

"The red cross was not able to get any material to us."

Education in prison:

"I gave a University course ... to two students of mine ... after we were all released they took their examination and were awarded their credit hours by the University."

Dr. Hazboun was released after the end of his six month term; other professors were not as lucky - some of them had their detention prolonged another six months, others are put under house or town arrest. Torture is used during interrogations in many cases (Deeb Saleh, Lecturer, Electrical Engineering); food and medical deprivation while in detention are also common. (Nicola Dabit, lecturer in Physics). Deportation from the Territories is the ultimate punishment, however (Taysser 'Arruri, Physics). The irony, however, is that many of these professors are known for their moderate views; some are even famous peace activists. Most of these people were never charged formally in a court of law.