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SIHAM AL-HEH

“It’s really hard to be detained without knowing why”

Date of birth: 14 October 1978
Place of residence: Sourif village, Hebron
Occupation: Social worker
Date of arrest: 26 March 2009
Date of release: 24 September 2009
Place of detention: Hasharon prison
File #: 1481/09
ADMINISTRATIVE DETENTION
Number of order renewal: One
Expected end of current administrative detention order: 26 September 2009
 
Arrest and Interrogation
Siham was arrested in her family home at 1:30 a.m. on 26 March 2009. Israeli soldiers burst into the house and started destroying her property. They broke windows and picture frames and searched the entire house. They later conducted a similar search of her brother’s house, which is located about 100 meters from Siham’s family home. Only after a few minutes of firm insistence was Siham allowed changing her clothes before the soldiers took her into custody – they were ready to arrest her in her pajamas. The soldiers then confiscated a few books, her personal computer and identity documents of the family and escorted her from her home. In addition to arresting Siham, the solders also left a request for her four brothers and her father, aged 70, to present themselves for an interrogation with the Israeli Security Agency (ISA). That same night, the Israeli soldiers also intended to arrest Siham’s brother Ibrahim, aged 37; however he was working a night shift at the Hebron hospital where he is employed as a nurse.
 
Following her arrest, Siham was escorted into a military jeep and taken to Etzyon detention center.  She was left alone in the military jeep for an hour before a doctor came to carry out a cursory medical examination. After a few questions, Siham was asked to sign a form stating that she was in good health, which she did. She was then led into the detention center for questioning, during which the interrogator threatened her with administrative detention. After a few hours, Siham was transferred to Hasharon prison where she is currently detained.
 
At first, Siham was placed in the section of Hasharon prison that housed Israeli female criminal offenders, in violation of international law and Israeli Prison Service regulations requiring separate detention areas for political prisoners. Addameer lawyers immediately requested that she be transferred to section 12, where the rest of Palestinian political women prisoners are detained. The request was finally fulfilled on 23 April 2009, nearly a month after her arrest.
 
First Administrative Detention Order

A few days after her arrest, Siham was informed that she would be detained for a three month period in administrative detention, without charge or trial. The military judge justified the court’s decision to institute the order by stating that based on the 'secret evidence’ Siham poses a real danger the “security of the region”. On 6 April 2009, Siham was taken before the Administrative Detainees Court in Ofer military compound for a judicial review of the order. There, the military judge found that the information included in the secret file against SIham was not “convincing”, refused to confirm the order against Siham and postponed the decision. The judge then requested that the prosecution and the Israeli Security Agency gather further information to justify the order and postponed the judicial review until 23 April 2009. At the postponed hearing, the order was finally confirmed for a 3 month period setting her potential – but by no means certain – release for 25 June 2009. A few days before the end of the order’s expiry date, it was renewed for an additional three months, with now slated to expire on 26 September 2009. Siham was finally released on 24 September 2009.
 
Siham had been imprisoned once before in July 2005 and was subsequently sentenced to 11 months incarceration. She was released in May 2006.
 
DETENTION CONDITIONS
During Siham’s first night in detention with the general population at Hasharon prison, she was forced to sleep on an iron bed without a mattress. The following night, she was brought a mattress and sheets, which she reports had “a terrible smell and were extremely dirty”. According to Addameer lawyers, Siham was placed at first in an extremely cold room, without any natural sunlight. The only window in the room was overlooking another wing of the prison complex, making it impossible for Siham to differentiate night from day. Whereas Israeli criminal prisoners were allowed recreation time during the entire day, she, by comparison, was only allowed to leave her room for one hour of recreation daily. Until her Addameer lawyer visited her on 4 April 2009, she did not have a single change of clean clothes, as the family was prevented from sending her a parcel and the prison administration failed to provide her with any clean clothes. As mentioned, Siham was subsequently transferred to the prison section for “security prisoners”, and is now held with three other women in a room that she describes as “humid and not fit for human beings”.
 
PERSONAL INFORMATION
Before her arrest, Siham had been a student of Social Counseling at the Al-Quds Open University in Hebron. She had completed three years of her program and had one year remaining. However, an interruption in her studies following her imprisonment in 2005, combined with a downturn in the family’s finances forced Siham to abandon her education shy of her degree. Immediately prior to her arrest, she worked in a student counseling office in Hebron, and intended to use her education in order to support Palestinian prisoners.
 
The Family
The morning after Siham’s arrest, at 10:00 a.m., her brothers and father presented themselves for interrogation at Etzyon detention center in fulfillment of the ISA’s request. Only Ibrahim was not present, given that he had just finished his night shift at the hospital. An ISA officer then called the family home, saying that if Ibrahim failed to come as well, neither his brothers nor his father would be released. Indeed, they were only allowed to leave at 4:30 that afternoon, when Ibrahim finally arrived. Ibrahim was immediately arrested and was detained for two weeks before being released.
 
Like Siham, Ibrahim had also experienced imprisonment before: for a time in 1993; between 2002-2005, during which time no member of the family was allowed to visit him; and, lastly, he was placed under administrative detention for a period of one year between 2007 and 2008.
 
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