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Enforced disappearances are a stain on the Palestinian Authority
Published Saturday 17/03/2012 (updated) 23/03/2012 18:50
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Palestinian Authority security forces take part in a military drill during exercises
in the West Bank city of Qalqiliya (MaanImages/Khaleel Reash, File)

“Life is hard without him,” says Shereen Ayash, who has lived without knowing the fate of her husband Ismail Ayash since he disappeared from Palestinian Authority custody in 2002.

Their daughter Jihan was three months old at the time; she is 10 now. She has no recollection of visiting him in prison as a baby.

Shereen and Jihan are not alone: the families of five other men await with growing desperation any news of their sons, brothers, fathers and husbands who all disappeared on that day 10 years ago from Salfit Detention Center in the northern West Bank.

“Each one of them is dear to his family,” said the wife of another disappeared.

Before they disappeared, these men had been detained on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations that they had collaborated with the Israeli intelligence services, at a time when the Israeli army was conducting devastating military operations to suppress the second intifada.

They were never tried.

During visits to the detention center, the families noticed marks of beatings and burns on the men’s bodies. When they were contacted by the Palestinian intelligence services to be told that the men had somehow “escaped” on March 12, 2002, they feared the worst.

Their fears have grown with every passing month of silence.

The families have asked the PA many times: Where are the men? If they are alive, why are they not in touch with their loved ones? How could they have escaped? What really has been their fate? Why are there persistent rumors that they were killed or died in detention?

Why has there been no independent investigation to get to the bottom of the matter, to establish precisely what occurred on that fateful day a decade ago?

Ali al-Khdair, who disappeared along with Ismail Ayash, left behind a sister who is not prepared to mourn her loss: “Until now we have no news and we are ready to do anything to know whether he is alive or dead, God forbid,” said Inaam al-Khdair.

The PA has been dismissive of the families’ efforts to find their relatives over the years. They have told the families that the six are now in Israel and they have advised the families informally to cease trying to find out about them and to drop the case.

Neither their disappearance nor their alleged torture and other ill-treatment in detention has been investigated by the PA. Such an investigation is long overdue.

Recently, the PA’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs replied to an appeal from Amnesty International members claiming that the six were “set free” for their own safety at a time when the Israeli air force was bombing PA buildings, adding, “Their residency is unknown.”

But the families are not convinced. Like many other families around the world, from Argentina to Timor Leste, who have suffered the pain of not knowing the fate of disappeared relatives, they fear these official words may conceal a terrible, secret truth.

Amnesty International is calling for a thorough, independent and transparent investigation to be held to establish the truth of these six men’s cases and whether anyone should be brought to justice for perpetrating torture, enforced disappearances or other serious abuses.

The families have a right to know the truth and to reparation. The PA has affirmed its commitment to enforcing the rule of law and accountability. It must now resolve these cases as evidence of that commitment.

Inaam al-Khdair has striven tirelessly to find the truth, as have the other families of the six men. She has told Amnesty: “I cannot give up this quest until I know for sure what happened.”

Philip Luther is Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.
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1 ) Mohammad / Pa
17/03/2012 18:31
I am sorry,but if they were working for Israel as snitches and Palestinians got killed then they got what they deserve.this snitchs are behind the killings of thousands of palestinians.

2 ) Robby / USA
17/03/2012 18:58
Maybe a hunger strike?

3 ) M / Palestine
18/03/2012 01:09
Every person, including those suspected of wrongdoing, must have a full right to a fair trial where they can defend themselves. And to humane treatment all the time. This is a big stain to Palestinian governance; among other stains, that we, as a civilized people, must correct.

4 ) Harriet Cohen / USA
18/03/2012 01:48
More than likely they were executed by their detainee's.Without them being tried with a fair trial in a legitimate justice system,the facts will never be known.

5 ) Jihane / Palestine/France
18/03/2012 03:09
@ 1 Yeah, of course they worked for Israel. You saw that in your cristal ball, and that's why they were never put on trial but "disappeared", right ?

6 ) southparkbear / usa
18/03/2012 06:34
Robby you read my mind. after all who needs the truth? just blaim the zionist

7 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
18/03/2012 07:44
More and more it looks like Palestine is the true home of apartheid. This sounds just like what the South African secret police did to the blacks.

8 ) Arnold / Canada
18/03/2012 21:05
Mohamad #1. Even if they were snitches for Israel do you not think that putting them on trial, finding them guilty and then executing them under the law would be a better deterrent to new snitches ? If they were tortured into confessing then is the PA not any better than the Shin Beit who you always accuse of torturing Palestinians in Israeli jail.

9 ) Phil / UK
18/03/2012 22:25
Like the story of the frog and the scorpion. Some people just can't help but do what they have always done. If Pals were given everything they wanted tomorrow, the next day would see them murdering each other to settle scores and gain power just as happened in Gaza. This is what happens when you practice hatred, eventually you all drown in it.

10 ) Samir / Gaza
21/03/2012 12:30
Yes the zionist are to blem for all the killings.thid people that work for Israel are called birds here, they give Israel info. on Palestinian freedom fighters.if your family mammber was blowing up by a missile because of this rats,then you would know how they fell.

11 ) s / palestine
31/05/2012 14:04
Is it not fair to consider each person to be judged by the truth on others for through Mohammed # 1 You make sure they are wrong Are you innocent, for example, but to govern the others proved your innocence first
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