Nidal Abu Aker ordered to six more months imprisonment without charge or trial

Nidal Abu Aker upon his release from Israeli prison in 2015; he was re-arrested eight months later.

Palestinian journalist and organizer Nidal Abu Aker, 52, was ordered to an additional six months imprisonment without charge or trial under administrative detention at the Ofer military court on 25 January. This marks the fourth consecutive six-month order against Abu Aker, a leader of the Palestinian left in Dheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem.

The order against Abu Aker made reference to the so-called “secret file,” alleged evidence denied to both the detainee and his lawyer by occupation forces. The military prosecutor noted that Abu Aker is a “threat to the security” of the area as a leader in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Abu Aker is married with three children, one of whom, Mohammed, was recently released from Israeli prison himself. He has spent 16 years in Israeli prison, including 10 years in different periods of administrative detention. His first arrest was in 1982 and he was arrested again in 1987 with the beginning of the first intifada. After a 2002 arrest, he spent five consecutive years in administrative detention. In 2015, he conducted a hunger strike for 42 days with his comrades against his imprisonment without charge or trial. After eight months of release, he was seized once again by occupation forces and remains jailed without trial today.

Nidal Abu Aker is also a journalist and the host of a program on prison issues, “In Their Cells,” on Wihda (Unity) Radio, the only radio station beamed directly from Dheisheh refugee camp.

Nidal’s family consists of his wife, Mrs. Manal Shaheen, who works at a nursery, his son Mohammad, and two daughters Dalia and Karmel, who are students.

Maya Rosenfield writes in 2008 about Nidal’s repeated imprisonment: “I was thinking of Malika and Naim Abu Aker, better known as Umm and Abu Nidal, both in their mid sixties, from the Dheisheh refugee camp, just to the south of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank.  Naim was a toddler and Malika a baby when, in the course of the 1948 war, their families were uprooted from their village of Ras Abu-Ammar, on the western slopes of the Judean mountains. Together with thousands of other villagers, they fled to the Bethlehem area, where they eventually settled as refugees. Malika and Naim grew up, came of age, married and brought up six children in the Dheisheh camp, which fell under Israeli military occupation in the aftermath of the 1967 war. In 1988, at the height of the first Intifada (the Palestinian popular uprising), Mohammad, the couple’s third son, then a school boy in the tenth grade, was fatally shot by an IDF soldier while taking part in a demonstration just across the street from home. Complicated surgical operations and endless help and support from his family and friends enabled Mohammad to survive for more than two years, a sort of miracle that earned him the title of “the living martyr.” He succumbed to his injury in 1990, at the age of 18. Malika and Naim’s eldest sons are twin brothers, now in their early forties. The two were first detained by the Israeli military at the age of 13 on grounds of their activism in the outlawed Palestinian national movement. Each of them has since then spent dozen of terms in Israeli prisons. In fact, at the time you were giving your speech, one of the twins, Nidal (the literal meaning of the name is “struggle”), by then a university graduate, a longtime community and political activist, and a father of three, was being held as an administrative detainee for the seventh successive or nearly successive time. Whenever he and his mates had access to a smuggled cell phone he would call me and talk about the inhumanity of being detained without trial, wondering whether the public in Israel was aware of this injustice.  At some stage, Nidal’s Israeli lawyer, a veteran and highly acclaimed human-rights attorney, appealed in his name to the Israeli High Court of Justice, but to no avail. The court accepted the request of the GSS (General Security Service) to extend Nidal’s detention.”