Palestinian leftist intellectual Ahmed Qatamesh was ordered jailed without charge or trial under administrative detention by Israeli occupation forces on 1 January 2020, only days after the 68-year-old writer and thinker was seized from his home in al-Bireh by armed occupation soldiers. He has spent over 13 years in Israeli jails, mostly under administrative detention.
Qatamesh has been jailed repeatedly by Israeli occupation forces, including in 1969 and in 1972, when he was jailed for four years. He was arrested again in 1992 after 17 years successfully remaining underground from the occupation forces. Upon his arrest, he was subjected to severe torture and jailed for over a year; despite an order for his release, he was sent to administrative detention in October 1993. The administrative detention orders were renewed against him with no charge or trial for a full five and a half years before his release in 1998; he remains one of the longest-held Palestinian administrative detainees.
He was seized again in 2011 and had his administrative detention again extended seven times until his 2013 release. Amnesty International declared Qatamesh to be a prisoner of conscience jailed for his political writings, noting that it “believes he is being held to suppress his views and to deter political activities by other Palestinian left-wing activists.” In 2017, he was once again jailed without charge or trial under administrative detention for three months.
He has written more than 10 books, including his approach to the the one democratic state in Palestine, translated in English in 2007. His book, “I Shall Not Wear Your Tarboush,” recalls his time in prison as well as the 100 days of torture he underwent during interrogation in 1992. He recently began distributing a new book, “Current Intellectual Approaches,” prior to his arrest on 24 December.
Qatamesh joins approximately 450 Palestinians held in administrative detention, of around 5,000 total Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli jails. These detention orders, introduced to Palestine by the British colonial mandate and then adopted by the Zionist project, are issued for up to six months at a time but are indefinitely renewable on the basis of “secret evidence.” Qatamesh’s years of imprisonment without charge or trial reflect the fundamental injustice of administrative detention. Fellow Palestinian prisoner and administrative detainee Ahmad Zahran is currently on his 103rd day of hunger strike against his imprisonment without charge or trial, demanding an end to the practice.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network denounces the administrative detention of Dr. Ahmed Qatamesh and demands his immediate release. The targeting of this Palestinian writer and historic figure of the Palestinian liberation movement is part and parcel of the ongoing Israeli assault on Palestinian culture and resistance that predates the Nakba. Palestinian writers from Mahmoud Darwish to Samih al-Qasem to today’s young poets like Dareen Tatour have been targeted alongside countless Palestinian intellectuals and academics for imprisonment. It also comes as part of a comprehensive assault on the Palestinian left and progressive forces struggling for the liberation of Palestine. We urge international support and solidarity to free Dr. Ahmed Qatamesh, put an end to the policy of administrative detention and free all Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.