Ghassan Zawahreh, Palestinian former prisoner and longtime struggler for justice, was seized from his home in Dheisheh refugee camp by Israeli occupation forces in the pre-dawn hours of 19 August 2021. Zawahreh has been repeatedly detained since 2002, when he was only 14 years old. He was last released from Israeli occupation prisons on 4 March 2021 after 28 months jailed without charge or trial under administrative detention. Almost every time he is released, he may spend only a few months with his family and community before being ripped away once again for arbitrary imprisonment with no charge or trial.
During his last detention, Zawahreh highlighted the injustice of administrative detention, announcing his boycott of the military courts: “Administrative detention is a heinous crime for the ages. What is even more criminal is the occupation’s attempts to mislead through mock courts and charades where the executioner and the ruler, dressed up in military suits, represent the Occupation and its crimes.”
He has spent nearly 16 years in total in Israeli prisons; his brother Moataz Zawahreh was murdered by Israeli occupation forces as he participated in a popular protest in Bethlehem in 2015. Moataz had actually returned home to Palestine from where he was studying in France to support Ghassan, who was engaged in a long-term hunger strike against his imprisonment without charge or trial. He won his release in December 2015, only to be seized again by occupation forces seven months later.
He was in his last year of studies in social work at the Open University of Jerusalem when he was arrested in 2008, and has been prevented from completing his studies through multiple arrests.
He is well-known in the camp as a community activist and volunteer in popular programs that provide social services to people in the camp. He worked as a taxi driver in order to support his family, on the Bethlehem-Ramallah road.
Administrative detention was first used in Palestine by the British colonial mandate and then adopted by the Zionist regime; it is now used routinely to target Palestinians, especially community leaders, activists, and influential people in their towns, camps and villages.
There are currently approximately 550 Palestinians jailed without charge or trial under administrative detention, out of 4,750 Palestinian political prisoners. These orders are issued by the military and approved by military courts on the basis of “secret evidence”, denied to both Palestinian detainees and their attorneys. Issued for up to six months at a time, they are indefinitely renewable, and Palestinians — including minor children — can spend years jailed without charge or trial under administrative detention. There are currently nine Palestinians on hunger strike to end administrative detention without charge or trial.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network demands the immediate release of Ghassan Zawahreh, dedicated struggler for Palestine and leading political prisoner repeatedly attacked by Israeli occupation forces, and all of his fellow Palestinian political prisoners. We are committed to organize, struggle and work to achieve the liberation of Palestinian prisoners, and the liberation of Palestine from the river to the sea.