Israeli occupation forces seized three Palestinian lawyers well-known for their involvement in defending Palestinian human rights and particularly the rights of Palestinian prisoners in armed, overnight, pre-dawn raids. The three lawyers are:
- Khaled Zabarqa, seized from his home in Lydd in Palestine ’48 and a defense lawyer for imprisoned Sheikh Raed Salah
- Iyad Misk, seized from his home in Kufr Aqab in Jerusalem and legal director of the Prisoners’ Affairs Commission
- Firas al-Sabbah, seized from his home in the city of Jerusalem and director of the al-Meethaq Foundation for Human Rights
All three of the lawyers’ homes was stormed at night by police and intelligence agents who ransacked the home before taking him. The three were taken to the Petah Tikva interrogation center.
Zabarqa is one of the most prominent lawyers defending Palestinian political detainees and prisoners in occupied Palestine ’48. Most recently, his advocacy on behalf of imprisoned Sheikh Raed Salah has highlighted the sheikh’s solitary confinement and political targeting. Zabarqa has been targeted in the past, barred from entering Jerusalem in 2015. Misk is also the former legal director for Defence for Children International – Palestine and, as current director of legal work for the Prisoners’ Affairs Commission, has a leading role in defending many Palestinian prisoners before Israeli occupation courts.
Al-Sabbah is the director of al-Meethaq Foundation, which offers public legal services to the Jerusalemite population, including dealing with Israeli occupation entities like insurance officials, the municipality, and the interior department. The foundation also works together with Physicians for Human Rights to document abuses against child prisoners and support parents in filing complaints about their children’s treatment.
The targeting of the three lawyers comes hand in hand with the ongoing attacks on Palestinian human rights defenders such as Salah Hamouri, new Palestinian lawyer and field researcher for Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association; Hasan Safadi, Arabic-language media coordinator for Addameer; Issa Amro, al-Khalil organizer against settlements; Khalida Jarrar, Palestinian parliamentarian and Addameer board member; Abdallah Abu Rahma, coordinator of Bil’in’s Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements.
“Human rights defender” is a term used to describe people who, individually or with others, act peacefully to promote or protect human rights. These three Palestinian lawyers are human rights defenders who serve as a first line of defense for Palestinian civilians under occupation targeted for arrest, detention and persecution by Israeli occupation forces.
This is also a specific and targeted attack on Palestinian legal work and Palestinian lawyers, in what appears to be an attempt to deprive Palestinian prisoners of even the barest legal representation which is in and of itself frequently barred from providing any meaningful defense in a colonial system meant merely to legitimize the ongoing detention of Palestinians. It also appears to be an attempt to intimidate and suppress Palestinian lawyers from engaging public work to defend Palestinian political prisoners and people under attack.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network urges international organizations, especially lawyers’ and legal organizations, to take a stand and pressure the Israeli state and international governments to take a stand against the escalating attacks on Palestinian lawyers and other human rights defenders.