URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY
ISR 002 / 1021 / OBS 101
Judicial harassment /
Arbitrary detention /
Deterioration of health condition
Israel / Occupied Palestinian Territory
October 4, 2021
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, requests your intervention in the following situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
Description of the situation:
The Observatory has been informed about the ongoing judicial harassment and arbitrary detention of Shatha Odeh Abu Fannouneh, a woman human rights defender and the Director of the Health Work Committees (HWC), an organisation working to deliver health services to Palestinians in remote areas of the West Bank.
On October 4, 2021, a new hearing in the case against Shatha Odeh will take place before the Ofer Military Court. The woman human rights defender is facing charges of “holding a position in an unlawful association”, “receiving and bringing funds illegally into the area”, “receiving funds and support fraudulently”, “fraudulent use of documents” and “presence on a public event on May 14, 2019”, the latter in relation to her attendance to a public event commemorating the death of Mr. Rabah Mhana, a former member of the HWC and member of the political bureau of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
Shatha Odeh was arbitrarily arrested on July 7, 2021 by 15 Israeli soldiers who raided her house in ‘Ain-Musbah, Ramallah, West Bank. Her mobile phone, the keys of the HWC’s car and the car itself were seized. She was subsequently taken to the ‘Ofer’ Israeli Military Camp in Ramallah and interrogated for nine hours. Shatha Odeh was then taken to Hasharon detention facility, which is located outside the Occupied Palestinian Territory, where her family members could not travel as security permits issued by the Israeli authorities were needed.
On July 8, 2021, Shatha Odeh attended her first hearing at the Ofer Military Court. Her arbitrary detention was extended until July 14, 2021, as further investigations were needed. On July 14, 2021, a second hearing took place and her detention was further extended for five days. On July 19, 2021, Shatha Odeh appeared again before the Ofer Military Court. The prosecutor requested eight days to prepare the list of charges and the judge ordered an extension of her detention. On July 26, 2021, the fourth hearing in her case took place, and the above-mentioned charges were pressed against her. All the hearings were conducted in Hebrew, a language that neither Shatha Odeh nor her family members understand. Moreover, Shatha Odeh appeared to the first three hearings with the same clothes, as the Israeli authorities consistently denied her family and lawyers’ request to bring her clean clothes to the prison, until July 25. On July 27, 2021, she was transferred to Damoun Female Prison, in Haifa.
On August 17, 2021, Shatha Odeh appeared again before the Ofer Military Court, where the list of charges against her was orally translated into Arabic by a translator who made mistakes during the translation and added charges that had not been pressed against her, according to Shatha Odeh’s lawyer.
At the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, Shatha Odeh remained detained in Damoun Female Prison. Since her detention, Shatha Odeh has lost a significant amount of weight and her health condition is extremely concerning, as she is diagnosed with numerous chronic illnesses including hypertension, hyperlipidaemia, diabetes and irritable bowel syndrome. The Israeli prison authorities have denied her request to have access to one of her medications up until July 15. Moreover, during her detention in Hasharon detention facility, her cell was lacking pillows and covers and was under constant camera surveillance.
The Observatory underlines that the arbitrary detention of Shatha Odeh took place within the framework of the harassment against HWC. On June 9, 2021, Israeli forces raided HWC’s office in Ramallah, seized its computers and vandalised its premises. They additionally fixed a military order on the outside door after sealing it and ordering the close-down of the organisation for six months on the basis of ‘security reasons’ without providing further details. This was the fourth raid to the HWC premises since 2019.
The Observatory expresses its utmost concern over the arbitrary detention, judicial harassment and deteriorating health condition of Shatha Odeh and urges the Israeli authorities to immediately and unconditionally release her.
The Observatory further urges the Israeli authorities to put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Shatha Odeh and all other human rights defenders in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals.
Please write to the authorities of Israel urging them to :
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Shatha Odeh Abu Fannouneh, as well as all human rights defenders in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory;
ii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Shatha Odeh Abu Fannouneh and all the human rights defenders in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;
iii. Ensure that all judicial proceedings against Shatha Odeh Abu Fannouneh are carried out in full compliance with the right to a fair trial as protected under international law.
- Mr. Naftali Bennet, Prime Minister of Israel. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @naftalibennett
- Mr. Benny Gantz, Minister of Defense; Email: email@example.com Twitter: @gantzbe
- Mr. Yair Lapid, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @yairlapid
- Mr. Gideon Sa’ar, Minister of Justice; E-mail: ForeignRelations@justice.gov.il Twitter: @gidonsaar
- Mr. Avichai Mandelblit, State Attorney; Email: email@example.com
- H.E. Ambassador Ms. Meirav Eilon Shahar, Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- H.E. Ambassador Simona Frankel; Embassy of Israel in Belgium and Luxembourg; Email: email@example.com
Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Israel in your respective countries.
Paris-Geneva, October 4, 2021
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu , the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tel FIDH: + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18
- Tel OMCT: + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39