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Head of Birzeit Student Council arrested by Israeli army
Right to Education Campaign, R2E, 26 November 2007

On Sunday 25 November 2007, Israeli military Special Forces abducted Fadi Hamad, the head of the Birzeit University Student Council.

The incident occurred on the road linking the al Jalazoon camp with the central West Bank city of Ramallah. Eyewitnesses report that a car carrying Fadi was ambushed on the road between Ramallah and Jalazone refugee camp. He was then taken to Ofer prison where he is being held without physical access to legal counsel.

Unlike other prisons, Ofer does not automatically permit legal visits. The Right to Education Campaign's lawyer has to fax a request to the prison which on average takes 8 days to be processed, for each prisoner he needs to visit.

Israeli military law also allows the army 8 days of questioning and investigation before the case is heard by a military court judge.

On Sunday 2 December, Fadi will be taken to a military court where he may be charged, released or held indefinitely without charge under the system of 'administrative detention'.

Administrative detention is a system of incarceration without charge that is sanctioned by a military court judge every 6 months. It is granted on the grounds that the judge has seen 'secret evidence' - often provided by intelligence officers and not disclosed to the detainee's legal counsel – which justifies further incarceration in order to give the Israeli army has more time to find evidence and bring forth a case.

This is most commonly used as a way to punish political activism and the majority of cases never end up in court. In one case, a former Birzeit student prisoner was offered exile in exchange for his early release on condition that he did not return to the country for two years. This was effectively an attempt by the Israeli army to extend his exclusion from society, for after he refused the offer, he was released by the judge without charge. He had been in administrative detention for over 1.5 years.

Currently, there are 14 Birzeit students in administrative detention, the longest being in prison for over 2.5 years.

Also last week, on Saturday 24 November, the Birzeit student Fathi Saadeh was arrested at Atara checkpoint between the towns of Birzeit and Nablus. He was released 5 days later without charge. It is believed that his and Fadi's arrests are part of a crack-down against student members of political parties.



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