Fayez Sharary, a British citizen of Palestinian descent, has now been held in Israeli prisons for nearly three months. He traveled with his wife Laila and their daughter, Aya, 3, to Palestine, to visit Laila’s widowed mother and to mark Eid al-Adha in Jerusalem, reports Inminds, the British organization currently leading a campaign to free Sharary. As the family attempted to leave Palestine on 15 September at the bridge to Jordan, they were stopped by Israeli forces; they had a flight scheduled for 17 September to return to the UK.
Sharary was separated from his wife and daughter, while he was interrogated for five hours while his daugher was refused access to a toilet. Laila’s mobile phone was confiscated and Sharary was detained; when she attempted to refuse to leave and stay with her husband, Israeli soldiers screamed at her.
Sharary was held for three weeks in Petah Tikva interrogation center and subject to ill-treatment, abuse and torture throughout that time. He was denied access to a lawyer until he signed a forced confession on 6 October and was moved to Ofer prison. Sharary’s torture by Israeli forces was further substantiated by Judge Azriel Levi, who ordered his release in a hearing in Ofer military court on 26 October, citing his confession as a result of “the method of interrogation, which included pained and prolonged shackling, threats, and a blatant exploitation of the defendant’s demonstrated weakness.” The military judge further said that the confession had a value of “less than zero” and that some of the allegations against Sharary were not prosecutable in the military courts.
However, as is frequently the case when on the rare occasion a military judge orders the release of a detainee, the Israeli military prosecution appealed and Sharary has remained imprisoned ever since.
Daniel Zeichner, the British Labour Party’s Shadow Minister for Transport, raised a parliamentary question regarding the involvement of the British consulate in providing support for Sharary’s case; Tobias Ellwood, under-secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, replied that “Our Embassy in Tel Aviv has raised, and continues to raise, the detention of Mr Sharary with the Israeli authorities, most recently on 15 November. Consular officials continue to provide consular support to Mr Sharary and his family.”
Laila Sharary has participated in several protests in London demanding that the UK government act to free her imprisoned husband, 49, who has lived in the UK for 23 years. Sharary is allegedly accused of “contact with an enemy organization,” “services to an illegal organization,” and “bringing money into the region from an enemy.” Part of these allegations allegedly relate to Sharary’s time in Lebanon in 1993 or earlier; Sharary is not a resident of Palestine. The initial judge in the case who ordered Sharary released also dismissed the allegations of financial involvement due to irrelevant claims by the military prosecutor.
Despite these flimsy charges and his experience of torture – all too common, but publicly confirmed in this case by an Israeli military judge – Sharary remains imprisoned and will face a military court in Ofer on Wednesday, 14 December.
Please take action to urge the UK government to intervene and pressure Israel to release torture victim Fayez Sharary. This includes asking for UK representatives to attend the hearing in Sharary’s case at Ofer Military Court.
Email the Foreign and Commonwealth Office at firstname.lastname@example.org and the British Consulate in Jerusalem at email@example.com to express your concern about the case of Fayez Sharary.
You can use the sample letter below or write your own letter:
To whom it may concern,
I am writing in regard to the urgent case of Fayez Sharary, a British citizen currently imprisoned by Israel in its military court system for the occupied Palestinian territories. Sharary, 49, was previously ordered released due to the torture he experienced under interrogation.
Nonetheless, he remains imprisoned and will once again face a military court at Ofer prison on Wednesday, 14 December from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm.
It is critical that the British government support its citizen Fayez Sharary by pressuring Israel for his immediate release. It is particularly critical that there is a British official presence at the military court hearing on 14 December.
Israeli military trials do not meet international standards for fair trials and can rely on evidence obtained through torture. Please act to release Fayez Sharary and reunite him with his wife and family in Britain.