Palestinian writer Lama Khater seized from home, subjected to harsh interrogation

Lama Khater says farewell to her son as she is taken away by Israeli occupation forces. Photo distrubuted by the Khater family.

Palestinian writer Lama Khater was arrested by Israeli occupation forces in the early morning hours of 24 July 2018, her family capturing images of her as she hugged her young child before she was taken away by the soldiers who invaded their family home in occupied al-Khalil. Khater, 42 and a mother of five, is a Palestinian activist and writer who has previously been called for interrogation by occupation forces. Her detention was extended for eight more days on Thursday, 26 July.

Lama Khater

Hazem al-Fakhouri, a journalist and Khater’s husband, said that his wife was facing harsh interrogation in the Ashkelon interrogation center, a notorious site for severe pressure on arrested Palestinians. Palestinian lawyer Firas al-Sabbah visited Khater on 24 July. Al-Sabbah said that Khater had been denied sleep, was handcuffed to a chair by interrogators and was cursed and shouted at by occupation forces. Before being taken to Ashkelon prison, she was held for hours at the Kiryat Arba illegal settlement colony.

Fakhouri told the Asra Media Center that occupation forces seized Khater only two days after she was last summoned to interrogation by occupation forces. He said that they told her that if she stopped writing, she would not be arrested and asked about the age of her youngest son, Yahya, who is two years old. They wanted to know if he was still dependent on breastfeeding for nourishment.

Khater’s writing is regularly published on a number of websites and in publications; she has been questioned by Palestinian Authority security forces in the past as well. Fakhouri, her husband, has also been seized by occupation forces and the PA on multiple occasions.

Four women arrested in al-Khalil in the last month and a half Image via Asra Media.

She is one of four women who have been seized by occupation forces from the city of al-Khalil, including city council member Suzan Owawi and fellow prisoners Safaa Akram Abu Hussein – whose detention was extended on Thursday alongside Khater’s – and Dina Said al-Karmi. Oweiwi, 39, has been jailed since 5 June; her detention has been repeatedly extended after a lengthy interrogation in Ashkelon. Oweiwi is well-known for her work in support of Palestinian prisoners.

Abu Hussein, 32, runs a society called Happy Homes and has been jailed since 18 June, when occupation forces invaded Al-Fawwar refugee camp. Dina al-Karmi, 38, has been imprisoned since 3 July. Oweiwi is the mother of four, Abu Hussein the mother of four and al-Karmi the mother of one.

In the cases of other women prisoners, the trial of Areej Hoshiya, 19, from the village of Qatana north of Jerusalem, was continued until 8 August 2018. She has been jailed since 28 December 2017 when she was crossing Qalandiya with her sister who has Down syndrome; she was attacked by occupation soldiers for allegedly crossing in the wrong lane and accused of attempting to attack occupation soldiers. Her trial has been postponed 12 times.

Palestinian prisoner Yasmin Abu Srour, 21, was released on 26 July after 6 months in prison; she was seized by occupation forces on 17 January 2018. A Palestinian refugee from Aida camp in Bethlehem, she was jailed for “incitement” for posting political comments on social media.

An Israeli appeals court rejected the application for early release for Palestinian prisoner Ibtisam Mousa, 59, from Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip. Mousa was seized as she came to the Beit Hanoun/Erez crossing with her sister, going to the West Bank for treatment for cancer. Jailed since 19 April 2017, she was accused of planning to support the Palestinian resistance in the West Bank.  She has served 15 months of her 24-month sentence and suffers from several illnesses.