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Israeli Persecution of Human Rights Activists

By       Message Stephen Lendman     Permalink
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Israeli Persecution of Human Rights Activists - by Stephen Lendman

Ameer Makhoul is an Israeli citizen, human rights activist, and head of the internationally recognized Ittijah NGO, engaged in "strengthen(ing) and empower(ing) the Palestinian people within the Green Line (1.5 million Israeli citizens by) promoting the development of Palestinian civil society and advocating for political change, economic and social development."

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He's also chair of the Public Committee for the Defence of Political Freedom within the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee in Israel.

On May 10, Haaretz writers Jack Khoury, Amos Harel and Asshel Pfeffer headlined, "Two Israeli Arabs arrested on suspicion of spying, contact with Hezbollah," saying:

"Reports of the arrests circulated widely on unofficial websites and blogs, but government censors had banned the Israeli press from reporting them until the gag order was lifted late Sunday night," May 9.

Makhoul's brother, Assam, a former Hadash MK, "said the family had no details of the investigation but they suspected authorities had singled out the activist because of his campaigns against the government's 'racist and discriminatory policies' against Israeli Arabs."

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He's well known as a regular participant in conferences on the topic and for actively criticizing government policies.

Hussein Abu Hasin, a lawyer familiar with these type cases, told Haaretz that Israeli espionage charges are so vague and wide-ranging that incidental Internet chats or phone conversations with anyone about anything might be used as a pretext to prosecute for communicating with someone in an "enemy state." Hasin called these laws "draconian," and in the case of Makhoul:

"sparked outrage among Arab organizations and rights groups, who claim that (he and other activists are) disappeared from their homes in the middle of the night. (The) courts (are also) at the beck and call of security services, who often bar suspects from visits with lawyers or from obtaining legal counsel."

Earlier on April 24, Israeli security forces arrested Balad party's Omar Saeed while attempting to enter Jordan, at first initiating a gag order to prevent reporting it, the same procedure used against Makhoul. After its lifting, reports were that both men are accused of spying and having contact with foreign Hezbollah agents - one of many bogus charges Israel uses to justify arrests, including against human and political rights activists it wants to silence, what all rogue states do to suppress dissent.

On May 10, a mass Haifa rally, sponsored by Balad and Hadash, was held to protest against "an excalating campaign to crack down on Israel's Palestinian citizens," unreported by New York Times writer Ethan Bronner who merely headlined, "Israel: 2 Israeli Arab Activists Arrested" in an article totaling eight lines naming the men, the charge, initial gag order, and that lawyers "for the men said that Israeli espionage laws were overly broad..."

There was no context, no detail, no explanation of the men's human rights activism, or the real reason for their arrests. America's other major media reported nothing.

On May 6, at 3:10 AM, around 20 Israeli police and security forces arrested Makhoul at his Haifa apartment, ransacked the premises, confiscated his computers, cell phones, various documents and maps, including his daughter's research project. At the same time, his Haifa office was raided and possessions there seized. A Shin Bet warrant said only that "secret information" justified it for "security reasons," the usual Israeli pretext when they use any at all.

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On May 12, Amnesty International (AI) responded saying:

"Israel must stop harassment of human rights defender" in calling on its authorities to release Makhoul who's been held in detention, denied access to a lawyer, and charged with having "contact with a foreign agent."

AI's Deputy Director for Middle East and North Africa Programme, Philip Luther, called Makhoul:

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