Sixty Days after his Arrest, Human Rights Defender Mohammad Othman Receives his First Administrative Detention Order

November 24, 2009

Sixty Days after his Arrest, Human Rights Defender Mohammad Othman Receives his First Administrative Detention Order

[Ramallah, 24 November 2009] On 23 November 2009, after 61 days of detention for the purpose of interrogation by Israeli Security Agency officers, human rights defender Mohammad Othman received his first administrative detention order. The administrative detention order is set for a three month period, during which time Mohammad will be held without charge or trial. The judicial review of the order is scheduled to take place on 25 November at the Military Court of Administrative Detainees in Ofer Military Base, near the West Bank city of Ramallah.

The administrative detention order against Mohammad comes just one day after a hearing on 22 November 2009 at the Military Court of Appeals ended Mohammad’s interrogation period. In the Appeals Court hearing, the judge decided to release Mohammad because no measurable progress had been made during the two months he had been held in interrogation, no external evidence had been brought to the attention of the court and the military prosecution had been unable to formulate substantiated allegations or charges against him. The Appeals Court judge thus accepted Addameer’s appeal against the seventh extension of Mohammad’s detention, which had taken place five days earlier. At the same time, the judge ordered Mohammad’s release on 10,000 NIS bail (about $2,500 USD) and with the conditions that he not travel outside the occupied Palestinian territory, and that he regularly reports to the Israeli police. However, the military judge also gave the military prosecutor 24 hours to issue an administrative detention order against Mohammad, and remanded Mohammad to detention during this period. At 6:30 p.m. on 23 November 2009, Addameer confirmed with the Israeli Security Agency that an administrative detention order had been issued against Mohammad, and that he would not be released.

Mohammad Othman, a long-time human rights defender and activist with the “Grassroots Stop the Wall Campaign”, was arrested at the Allenby Bridge Crossing between Jordan and the West Bank. On the day of his arrest, 22 September 2009, Mohammad was on his way back to Ramallah from an advocacy tour in Norway where he had been engaged in a number of speaking events.

Addameer is alarmed by reports from Mohammad that he was repeatedly threatened with administrative detention during his two-month long interrogation period. Addameer believes that with these repeated threats, the Israeli interrogation police aimed to coerce Mohammad into giving a false confession to crimes he did not commit. Most recently, on 19 November, after Mohammad was transferred back to Kishon detention center from Ohalei Keidar prison in Beersheba where he had been held in a so-called “collaborators’ cell”, he was told by one of the Israeli interrogators that his detention would not be extended again and that he would be placed under administrative detention if he failed to confess. Addameer therefore contends that Mohammad’s arrest and administrative detention are completely arbitrary and are a prime example of Israel’s use of administrative detention as a substitute for prosecution, rather than as a preventative measure allowed by international humanitarian law for “imperative reasons of security” or “if the security of the Detaining Power makes it absolutely necessary” (Fourth Geneva Convention, Articles 42 and 78).

Further, Addameer reiterates the position that Mohammad’s arrest constitutes a violation of a number of international human rights instruments, in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. Considering that, sixty days after Mohammad’s arrest Israeli authorities have been unable to cite any legitimate suspicions or allegations to justify his detention, and that the Court of Appeals judge directed that Mohammad should be released, Addameer believes that Mohammad is being detained administratively as a punishment for his human rights activism. In addition, there is reason to believe that the Israeli military authorities use Mohammad’s continuous detention as an example to deter other activists, including those active against the occupation and the Annexation Wall in particular, from continuing their human rights work.


Administrative detention is a procedure that allows the Israeli military to hold detainees indefinitely on secret evidence without charging them or allowing them to stand trial. In the occupied Palestinian West Bank, the Israeli army is authorized to issue administrative detention orders against Palestinian civilians on the basis of Military Order 1591. This order empowers military commanders to detain an individual for up to six months renewable periods if they have “reasonable grounds to presume that the security of the area or public security require the detention.” On or just before the expiry date, the detention order is frequently renewed. This process can be continued indefinitely.

There is no explicit limit to the maximum amount of time an individual may be administratively detained, leaving room for indefinite legal detention. The grounds on which someone can be detained under Military Order 1591 are also unclear, leaving it up to the military commanders to decide what constitutes “public security” and “security of the area”. Detainees subject to administrative detention orders are rarely informed of the reasons for their detention; neither are their lawyers. At the judicial review of a detention order, which is held in a closed hearing before a military judge, the judge can uphold, cancel or shorten the order. In most cases, however, administrative detention orders are confirmed for the same periods as those requested by the military commander. Although the detainee can appeal the decision at the judicial review, in practice, the vast majority of appeals are rejected.

For more information about administrative detention and Addameer’s Campaign to Stop Administrative Detention please visit our website: For more information about Mohammad’s arrest, please refer to previous statements and updates on the case issued by Addameer and “Stop the Wall”, or directly contact:

Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association

Tel: +972 (0)2 296 0446 / (0)2 297 0136




The National board of the Socialist Youth League demands that the Israeli occupying power releases Mohammad Othman and all Palestinian political prisoners.

October 6, 2009

Release Mohammad Othman!

The National board of the Socialist Youth League demands that the Israeli occupying power releases Mohammad Othman and all Palestinian political prisoners.

Mohammad Othman has dedicated the last 10 years of his life for the human rights of the Palestinian people. His village, Jayyous, on the occupied West Bank, has lost the majority of it´s land after the construction of the Apartheid Wall and the settler colonies. (….)
Tuesday Sep 22 he was arrested by Occupation forces at the border crossing between Jordan and the Occupied West Bank, after a visit to Norway. An illegal military court prolonged his detention by 10 days on Sep 29 based on “secret information.” No serious charges has been given and both Mohammad´s case and previous experiences with Israeli “justice” suggests that the arrest is a result of his political work.

The Socialist Youth League salutes Mohammad Othman and all Palestinian freedom fighters, inside and outside the Occupation jails. No peace without justice! We demand:

– the unconditional release of Mohammad Othman
– that Norweian authorities put pressure on Israel to release Mohammad and to garuantee that he will not be subjected to torture while in custody

We call on friends of Palestine, in Norway and abroad, to intensify the work for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel as a response to the Occupation´s increasing repression of Human Rights defenders and peaceful resistance.

Norwegian version:

Jewish Voice for Peace: Has President Obama heard about Mohammad Othman?

October 2, 2009

Jewish Voice for Peace has launched an online campaign to pressure President Obama to pressure Israel to free Mohammad. Here is the text of the email:

I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked whether there is an Arab counterpart to Jewish Voice for Peace. The implicit false assumptions behind the question are clear: Palestinians are violent; Jews seek peace but there is no one peaceful on the other side of the equation.

Even President Obama, in his Cairo speech, exhorted the Palestinians to seek a resolution to the violent Israeli/Palestinian conflict through the use of nonviolence—without dedicating a word to Israel’s attack on the civilians of Gaza.

I used to get frustrated when asked the question, because I know that that its framework is false. I no longer get frustrated—now I use it as an opportunity to share what I know about so many Palestinian organizations and individuals that carry out acts, both small and large, of peaceful resistance against the occupation. People like Mohammad Othman.

My list is too big to contemplate, and the acts are nothing short of heroic. In reference to the weekly demonstrations in Bil’in against the theft of that village’s land to build the wall and to expand settlements, Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, “Just as a simple man named Gandhi led the successful nonviolent struggle in India and simple people such as Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King led the struggle for civil rights in the United States, simple people here in Bilin are leading a nonviolent struggle that will bring them their freedom.”

Bil’in is not unique, of course. Neither is the crushing response from Israel.

Palestinians who travel abroad to advocate their cause are at risk too. They may be unjustly detained by Israel when they come back home. This is what happened to Mohammad Othman. He was arrested September 22 by Israeli soldiers on the Allenby Bridge Crossing, the border from Jordan to Palestine. He was returning from a trip to Norway, where he was advocating for Palestinian human rights. He is now sitting in jail.

Joint Addameer and “Stop the Wall” Update on the Arrest of Human Rights Defender and Activist Mohammad Othman

September 30, 2009

Joint Addameer and “Stop the Wall” Update on the Arrest of Human Rights Defender and Activist Mohammad Othman

[Ramallah, 30 September 2009] On Tuesday 29 September 2009, a court hearing at Kishon (Jalameh) interrogation center extended Mohammad Othman’s detention period for 10 days. A long-time human rights defender, Mohammad Othman, aged 33, was arrested on 22 September 2009 at the Allenby Bridge Border Crossing between Jordan and the West Bank. Mohammad, who is an activist with the “Grassroots Stop the Wall Campaign,” was on his way back to Ramallah from an advocacy tour in Norway where he had been engaged in a number of speaking events.

At the court hearing in Kishon, the Israeli interrogation police did not provide any reason for Mohammad’s arrest, but contended that an extension of his detention period was necessary for further interrogation. The military judge rejected the interrogators’ initial request to extend Mohammad’s detention period to 23 additional days, arguing that no clear allegations exist as only two short interrogation sessions had taken place during the previous eight days of his detention. The judge did agree, however, to a 10 day extension period, based on “secret information” that was made available to him by representatives from the Israeli Security Agency (ISA). Addameer attorney Samer Sam’an, who represented Mohammad at the court hearing in Kishon, questioned the ISA officers about the content of the undisclosed information and the reasons for Mohammad’s detention, but received no answer.


On 24 September 2009, Mohammad was transferred from Huwwara provisional detention centre to Kishon interrogation centre, located near Haifa in northern Israel. He was subsequently placed in solitary confinement. On 27 September 2009, five days after his arrest, he was interrogated for the first time. In the interrogation session, which lasted less than one hour, Mohammad was questioned about his friends and family and was asked to provide their telephone numbers along with his personal e-mail address. In addition, the interrogators asked Mohammad broad questions about his work. The second interrogation session, which took place a few hours before Mohammad’s court hearing on 29 September, lasted just 40 minutes and featured the same questions as his first interrogation.

Considering that, eight days after Mohammad’s arrest, Israeli authorities have been unable to cite any legitimate suspicions or allegations to justify his detention, both Addameer and Stop the Wall contend that Mohammad’s arrest was arbitrary and therefore illegal under applicable international law. Addameer and Stop the Wall also reaffirm their previously stated position that Mohammad was arrested because of his high-profile advocacy work, both locally and internationally, as a human rights defender voicing opposition to Israel’s ongoing human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory, including those resulting from the continuing, illegal construction of the Annexation Wall inside the West Bank.


Addameer and Stop the Wall contend that Mohammad’s arrest should be viewed in a wider context of persistent Israeli repression against Palestinian human rights defenders and activists who, like Mohammad, have been successful in their lobbying efforts, at home and abroad, against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory, Israel’s continuation of land confiscation and the illegal construction of the Annexation Wall. For example, on 20 July 2009, Mohammad Srour, a member of the Popular Committee Against the Wall in Ni’lin, a village west of Ramallah affected by the construction of the Annexation Wall, was detained by Israeli border officials while crossing the Allenby Bridge from Jordan and taken to Ofer prison for interrogation. Srour was released on bail three days later. Although Srour was not charged, the courts said they were likely going to charge him, but they did not say on what grounds or when. In its final report submitted to the Human Rights Council, the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict expressed its concern that Srour’s detention “may have been a consequence of his appearance before the Mission”. Indeed, on 6 July 2009, together with an Israeli activist, Srour testified before the Mission in Geneva and described the fatal shooting of two Ni’lin residents by Israeli forces during a demonstration in Ni’lin on 28 December 2008 protesting the Israeli aggression in Gaza. Srour’s arrest, like the arrest of Mohammad Othman, is an indication of the oppression levied against Palestinian human rights defenders and marks an increasing infringement by Israel of the Palestinian population’s rights to freedom of opinion and expression and to peaceful assembly as inscribed in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Most importantly, Addameer and Stop the Wall fear that Mohammad could be held placed under indefinite administrative detention, without charge or trial, for a renewable period of one to six months. No justification other than an unsupported declaration that “the detainee poses a threat to the security of the State” or “area” would need to be provided for this to occur. Furthermore, it is clear from Addameer’s experience that Israel has regularly used administrative detention in the OPT to facilitate the detention of community activists and human rights defenders in cases where the prosecution lacks “sufficient”—or, more likely, “any”—evidence against them.

In light of the above, Addameer and Stop the Wall urge foreign government officials, including members of foreign representative offices to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and foreign Consulates in East Jerusalem, as well as representatives of the European Commission and the European Parliament, human rights organizations and United Nations bodies to:

* Raise Mohammad Othman’s case in their official meetings with Israeli officials.
* Demand clarifications regarding the reason for Mohammad’s arrest and extended detention in official letters addressed to Israeli authorities.

For more information, please contact:
Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association
Tel: +972 (0)2 296 0446 / 297 0136

Stop the Wall Campaign
Tel: +972-2-2971505

Ni’lin village demands release of Mohammad Othman during Friday demonstration

September 26, 2009

Ni’lin village demands release of Mohammad Othman during Friday demonstration
Latest News, Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, September 26th, 2009

Above: An activist protects his face from tear gas during this Friday’s demonstration

As usual, the protest started after the prayer with more than 200 hundred farmers, Israeli and international peace activists from France, Sweden and England. Demonstrators were carrying Palestinian flags, calling for an end to the occupation and freedom for all Palestinian prisoners. Youth were also carrying pictures of Mohammad Othman and shouting for his release.

Mohammad was arrested at Allenby Bridge last Tuesday, 22 September 2009, while coming back from an advocacy tour in Norway. He has been held in detention since then and the charges against him are unknown. It is believed that he has been detained solely for his human rights advocacy work.

Since Mohammad is active with the Stop The Wall Campaign, the youth in Ni’lin know him very well. The village wanted to show their support for him through this demonstration.

The demonstrators reached the area near the Wall, where Occupation soldiers and jeeps were awaiting them on the other side. The army started shooting dozens of tear gas canisters immediately into the demonstration. “Nothing will hold us back,” demonstrators were shouting, calling for the army to leave the area. When the army refused to leave, youth started throwing stones over the Wall and to the sensors on the fence. Soldiers responded with more teargas canisters and sprayed sewage waste water onto the demonstrators. This forced the demonstrators to move back from the Wall.

The demonstration moved to another part of the area, where there is a fence erected. About one hundred soldiers followed the demonstrators from the other side of the fence, including Israeli TV Channel 10, who was filming the demonstration under the ‘protection’ of the Israeli soldiers. Once the soldiers and their jeeps arrived, they launched an enormous amount of teargas canisters with a special machine, which covered the whole area in smoke from the teargas. Most people were experiencing respiratory problems, and two boys of 14 and 15 years old lost consciousness. In addition, another twenty people were treated by Palestinian Red Crescent volunteers for breathing problems. The soldiers themselves however, were wearing tear gas masks to protect themselves, which was viewed by the demonstrators as a small victory. “New costs added to the Occupation forces!” one participant shouted.

After four hours, around 20 soldiers came through one of the gates in the electric fence, shooting live ammunition at people and chasing people down. They arrested three people including Israeli photographer David Reeb, who was shot with live ammunition in another Ni’lin demonstration a couple of weeks. They also arrested Maxene Emguy, a French visitor to Palestine and Maiy from Sweden.

Report and photos Ahmad Mesleh – Ni’lin Youth Center

Above: A youth holds a picture of Mohammed during the weekly march.

Photo by: Ahmad Mesleh

Photo by: Ahmad Mesleh

Photo by: Ahmad Mesleh

Photo by: Ahmad Mesleh

Photo by: Ahmad Mesleh

Photo by: Ahmad Mesleh

Grassroots International created a US specific letter writing campaign

September 26, 2009

Boston-based human rights and international development organization Grassroots International has begun an appeal for the release of Mohammad for US citizens.

Demand the Release Mohammad Othman

Grassroots International partner Stop the Wall Campaign alerted us to the arrest of Mohammad Othman on September 22nd by Israeli soldiers on the Allenby Bridge Crossing, the border separating Jordan from the Palestinian West Bank.

Mohammad, 33 years old, has dedicated the last 10 years of his life to the defense of Palestinian human rights. He has worked tirelessly against the dispossession of Palestinian farmers (including his own family).  He is now being held in Huwara prison as a prisoner of conscience, arrested solely for his human rights work.

Mohammad’s initial hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, September 29th.  By using the form below to send letters to the US Embassy in Tel Aviv and the Israeli Embassy in Washington DC, you’ll help build international pressure for Mohammad’s immediate release.

Click here to demand the release of Mohammad Othman.

Interview With Mohammad from February 2009

September 25, 2009


The International Middle East Media Center has an interview with Mohammad about the situation in Jayyous recorded in February 2009. Scroll to the bottom of the page to listen to Mohammad.