Family fights to free disabled Palestinian Man being in Israel Prison
by Steve Davidson, Mondoweiss, 30 August 2016.
Struggling with disability since he was two, this was not Bara’s first
obstacle in life, but it was not to be his last, for Bara’s ongoing job search
recently led to his latest barrier in reaching his goals: imprisonment.
in Nablus, fracturing his skull. His parents rushed him for treatment in the
U.K., where he was treated for severe head injuries that resulted in partial
paralysis and speech and memory loss.
permanently faced difficulties in concentration and memorization and has faced
social disabilities ever since. “He depends on us totally,” said his father.
“He has no friends. He is solitary.”
without success since graduating from An-Najah University in 2014. Recently,
Farid sent his son to live with relatives in Turkey for a month, hoping he
could find a job there.
Bournemouth University in the U.K. accepted him for their master’s program in
computer animation beginning this fall. Bara left Turkey to return to the West
Bank in order to pass his English entrance exam and attain his visa. From
there, he was to leave for the U.K. to attend Bournemouth— one step closer to
making his dreams a 3-D reality.
weren’t too surprised when he called them to say he was being detained at the
border—a common experience for young Palestinian men at the Allenby Bridge
crossing. Four hours later, however, they were shocked to hear from Bara that
he was being arrested.
in Israel attempting to locate Bara. Five days later, they learned that Bara
was taken to Petah Tikvah Detention Center, where his father, Farid, had been
detained once before. “Petah Tikvah [Detention Center] is some kind of hell,”
said Farid. “It’s a very difficult life there. The cells are horrible, the
treatment is so bad, and they are trained to psychologically pressure
Cross, and his family was unable to contact him. During interrogation sessions,
Bara would be shackled to a chair until midnight, enduring shouting, cursing,
and threats from interrogators of imprisoning him for years. “I was so worried
that Bara wouldn’t be able to handle the pressure there,” said Farid, “and
that’s what happened.”
his cell having slit his wrists.
statement came out in which Bara gave a completely different story that
implicated him in militant activities. When Bara’s family saw him in court, he
was hysterically crying, telling the military judge that he fabricated such
stories under immense pressure.
pressures, Shin Bet deemed further statements “unnecessary.”
accused of being a member of Hamas, participating in activities with the
Islamic Bloc (Hamas’s student wing) while in college, contacting members of
Hamas while in Turkey, and planning attacks on Israeli soldiers while in
his job search that is under Israeli surveillance for being associated with
Hamas. Israeli authorities used this as a pretense to detain Bara, intensely
pressuring him to confess to activities beyond a mere job search. “They do not
accept no,” recalled Farid from his own detention. “Bara can’t take that
July. The accusation of associating with the Islamic Bloc in college apparently
stems from taking a regular course on the Quran three years ago.
activities he is accused of. “Bara does not have friends at all. He doesn’t go
out of the house. He doesn’t even like visiting relatives. He likes sitting on
his computer and work,” said Farid. “To a large extent, he depends on us. Even
buying ice cream or having a meal, he is dependent on me.”
removed from politics he doesn’t even know who the Israeli Prime Minister is.
“Even when there were student elections at the university, he didn’t go, saying
that he didn’t want to be involved in any of those activities,” said Farid. “I
totally exclude any possibility of him being part of anything that they charge
several times, mostly in increments between 48 hours and nine days. In the
middle of July, Bara was transferred to Megiddo Prison, where he has remained
since. His last court session was August 2nd, in which his detention was again
extended through the next court date on September 7th.
for this now three-month ordeal. Considering the 99.7% conviction rates in
Israeli military courts, Bara’s lawyer believes it is unlikely for him to be
released despite the paucity of evidence and forced nature of this disabled
prisoner’s confessions. Rather, they are hoping to negotiate with authorities
so he can serve a sentence of one year or less. Bara potentially faces over
three years in prison.
better deal for his son, but he finds it difficult to do so without lawyers
fluent in Hebrew or possessing legal clout in Israel. “I’m really confused by
it all,” said the college professor. “I don’t know what to do. I contacted many
lawyers, but no one gave me a clear and solid opinion on what can happen.”
for the next court date on September 7th, at which point his detention will
likely be extended once again. The uncertainty looms every day for this family
in crisis. “This is one of the most horrible experiences in our lives,” said
Farid. “[Especially] because it is Bara—he is totally different from other
people. He can’t take hardship and pressure. In the house, he has special
treatment, special food. He is like a child that needs to be taken care of.”
Turkey, only for him to be forced to do so in prison. “He has to depend on
himself now,” said Farid. “I worry for him. I hope he can survive this, but I
dreams. “I have for a long time believed that Bara will achieve his goals and
make his dreams real. I have not lost that hope,” said Farid. “Whatever happens
with Bara, I will stand with him and do all I can to achieve his dreams.”