Urgent Interventions

Israel: arbitrary arrest and risk to the personal integrity of Mr. Abd al-Nasser Quzmar

Case ISR 100703
Arbitrary arrest and detention / Incommunicado detention / Risk to personal integrity

The International Secretariat of OMCT requests your URGENT intervention in the following situation in Israel and the Occupied Territories.

Brief description of the situation

The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed by Defence for Children International – Palestine (DCI-Pal), a member of the OMCT network, of the arrest and interrogation of Abd al-Nasser Quzmar, the brother of DCI-Pal lawyer Khaled Quzmar in Qalqalyia in the Nothern West Bank.

According to the information received, Abd al-Nasser Quzmar was arrested on June 16th, 2003 at his home. He continues to be detained and interrogated by Israeli forces. Mr. Quzmar, a 30-year old resident of Qalqalyia in the Nothern West Bank, is a farmer, although his land was confiscated as part of the building of the "Separation Wall" between Israel and the Occupied Territories. The planned wall is to be built on Mr. Quzmar’s land, a portion of which will end up on the other side of the wall. The reason for the arrest was not given, but our sources believe that it may have to do with his peaceful resistance to the building of separation wall - he has reportedly been taking journalists and international delegations to see the wall building and to raise awareness about the issue.

Mr. Quzmar was brought to the Kaddumim detention centre after his arrest, where he was held for approximately one week before being transferred to Petah Tikva, one of the most notorious Israeli General Security Services (GSS) interrogation centres. Mr. Quzmar has told family members that he has been questioned for at least six hours every day since his arrest. It is not unusual for him to be interrogated by multiple interrogators for up to twelve hours a day. The Israeli Forces applied to renew his detention for an additional fifteen days on June 24th, 2003, and again on July 9th. Two and a half weeks after his arrest, Mr. Quzmar continues to be interrogated for lengthy periods.

Mr. Quzmar has been detained incommunicado for periods since his arrest, with no access to legal representation or his family, including a period from June 22nd, when he was moved from Kaddumim to Petah Tikva, until June 25th, when his lawyer saw him in court. His lawyer was also eventually able to visit him on Friday June 27th. His lawyer was prevented from visiting Abd al-Nasser in between these dates by guards who told him that Mr. Quzmar was being interrogated. It was during this time that Mr. Quzmar was interrogated continuously for 17 hours, from 10 am in the morning until 3 am the following day, thus depriving him of sleep and placing him under severe psychological pressure. Our sources believe that the GSS were trying to make Mr. Quzmar confess to something before the court hearing on the 25th.

Mr. Quzmar's family are not able to visit him as he is held in Israel and not in Palestine - in contravention of the 4th Geneva Convention. Mr. Quzmar has four children, the youngest of whom was born after his arrest, and he has yet to meet.

Despite the fact that there are no indications that he has yet been subjected to physical torture, there are grave concerns that this may yet occur during his detention. The Pubic Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), also a member of OMCT’s network, has noted that since the outset of the Al Aqsa Intifada in September 2000, there has been a sharp increase in the torture, ill-treatment, degradation and confinement in inhuman conditions during the interrogation of Palestinian detainees by the GSS. PCATI estimates that every month hundreds of Palestinians are subjected to some degree of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment by the GSS.

PCATI has also stated that “the ill-treatment of detainees during arrest and detention includes abuse of the detainee’s family, violence during arrest and on the way to the detention facility, shackling in plastic manacles and inhuman conditions of confinement. Other forms of torture and ill-treatment include being suspended with legs up, ‘goal’ (a stone-throwing contest at the detainee), forcing the detainee to run blindfolded and tripping him, stripping (sometimes to complete nakedness), intimidation using a dog, cocking a weapon – as if intending a summary execution - and others. During GSS interrogations, the majority of the Palestinian detainees are exposed to direct violence including beating, slapping, kicking, bending the body and tying in painful positions, intentional tightening of shackles and violent shaking. In addition detainees are subjected to sleep deprivation, threats and humiliation.”

In addition, OMCT strongly condemns the construction of the afore-mentioned separation wall, which, in its first construction phase, annexes approximately 2% of the West Bank. OMCT is particularly worried about the fact that this wall, as a further restriction to movement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, will infringe upon fundamental human rights of the Palestinian population living in the West Bank such as their right to work, their right to education and their right to health. In this respect, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, in its May 2003 concluding observations on Israel, expressed concerns about the construction of a "security fence" around the occupied territories, which would allegedly infringe upon the surface area of the occupied territories, and which would limit or even impede access by Palestinian individuals and communities to land and water resources (UN Doc. E/C.12/1/Add.90).

The International Secretariat of OMCT is gravely concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Abd al-Nasser Quzmar, particularly as he has been detained incommunicado while being subjected to lengthy interrogations, and runs a tangible risk of being subjected to ill-treatment and potentially torture. OMCT calls on the Israeli government to ensure that Mr. Abd al-Nasser Quzmar is granted unrestricted access to legal representation and family visits, and to order his release in the absence of legal charges that are consistent with international law and standards, or, if such charges exist, bring him before an impartial and competent tribunal and guarantee his procedural rights at all times.

Action requested

Please write to the authorities in Israel urging them to:

i. take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Abd al-Nasser Quzmar;
ii. ensure that he is granted unrestricted access to legal representation and family visits;
iii. order his immediate release in the absence of legal charges that are consistent with international law and standards, or, if such charges exist, bring him before an impartial and competent tribunal and guarantee his procedural rights at all times;
iv. guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms throughout the country in accordance with international human rights law and standards.


Note: if you encounter any problems with the fax numbers or e-mail addresses, please ensure that you send your letters via the Ambassador in Geneva.

· Ariel Sharon, Prime Minister, Office of the Prime Minister, 3 Kaplan Street, PO Box 187, Kiryat Ben-Gurion, Jerusalem 91919, Israel. Fax: + 972 2 651 2631 / 2 6705475, E-mail:,
· Yosef Lapid, Minister of Justice, 29 Salah Eddin Street, Jerusalem, 1010, Israel. Fax: +972 2 6285438 / 2 628 8618, E-mail:
· Major General Menachem Finkelstein, Judge Advocate General, Israeli Defence Forces, 6 David Elazar Street, Hakirya, Tel Aviv, Israel, Fax: + 972 3 5694370
· Ambassador Yaakov Levy, Av. de la Paix 1-3, CH-1202, Genève, Suisse, e-mail:, fax: + 41 22 716 05 55

Please also write to the embassies of Israel in your respective country.

Geneva, July 10th, 2003

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.