|code: 310533||Date: 2012/04/23 - 11:45||source: Palestine Info|
Israel replenishing its jails with peaceful Arab students
(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - The semi-autonomous Palestinian Authority is nearly totally powerless to stop daily Israeli arrest raids on Palestinian population centers in the West Bank .
In recent weeks, the Israeli occupation army, in coordination, with the Shin Beth, Israel's chief domestic security agency, stepped up a detention campaign targeting Islamist students at junior colleges and universities all over the occupied territory.
It is not exactly known how many students have been rounded up in these nightly raids. However, sources close to human rights organizations and NGOs monitoring Israeli human rights violations put the number at "dozens if not hundreds."
"They (Israeli occupation forces) raid our towns, villages and hamlets on a nightly basis, usually in the quiet hours before dawn. They terrorize families, including sleeping children, smash furniture, and round up young students," said Islam al-Khatib, a human rights field activist, documenting Israeli violations.
"In 99% of the cases, the students are totally innocent. But this is no guarantee against being arrested and persecuted by the Israelis. A Palestinian, especially a Palestinian Islamist, is guilty until proven innocent, in recent years, he is even guilty even if proven innocent."
The noted escalation of Israeli repression of Palestinian students, mainly those affiliated with the Islamist Orientation, e.g. supporting Hamas, Islamic Jihad or other Islamist groups, came after the Islamic Student Bloc (ISB) in the West Bank decided to take part in student elections which many observers see as a barometer gauging public opinion in the occupied territory.
Some pundits view the participation of the ISB in college elections as a sign that rapprochement between Hamas and the PA is making progress despite its slow pace.
Fatah, the ruling party of the PA, refused to allow pro-Hamas students to highlight their activities. And in many cases, Fatah students took part in cracking down on their Islamist colleagues as hundreds of Islamist students were detained and tortured by PA security agencies.
There are dozens of student prisoners in PA jails, mostly on frivolous charges stemming from their activities within the Islamist student bloc. Some of the detained students are asked to act as informers on their Islamist colleagues in exchange for their freedom.
Israel fears the Islamists
On Wednesday, 18 April, Israeli occupation forces raided the small town of Beit Ula , 12 kilometer north west of Hebron , in order to arrest Islam Hasan el Bashishi, an IT student at the Polytechnic Institute.
El-Bashishi, said a colleague of hers, is an excellent student, academically, morally and personally.
"I don't know why they (the Israelis) arrest people like her. Islam wouldn’t harm a fly. She is totally peaceable," said her friend.
But she adds: "I think the Israelis want to torment and humiliate us in every possible manner. This is really a scandalous abuse of power. It is sad and lamentable that they can drag anyone out of his or her home in the middle of the night and take him to an unknown destination. Are they trying to do to us what they say the Nazis did to them?"
El-Bashish, 23, is about to graduate in May, and, in addition. She is slated to get married this summer.
However, her unforeseen arrest has turned all her plans upside down.
"This shows that there is nothing that we can take for granted here. The evil Israeli occupiers control every aspect of our lives. Yet, there are people in this world who are still asking what the hell do the Palestinians want? Throw the Jews into the sea?"
According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, the young student was taken to the notorious Ofer detention facility, the Treblinka, of the West Bank. Then she was transferred to the ha'Sharon jail for women where inmates are reportedly subject to systematic ill treatment including beating, sadistic abuses and sleep deprivation.
Earlier, the Israeli army arrested three other students from the same engineering college in Hebron, including Ibrahim al Awadh, Samer al-Qadhi and Osama Saad. All the three had been detained by the PA security agency in connection with their activities within the Islamic bloc.
Earlier this month, ten Islamic students from the University of Beir Zeit, near Ramallah, were rounded up by the Israeli army.
According to one lawyer, his client was asked by interrogators to choose between "ten years in jail or to stop supporting the Islamist movement."
It is uncertain whether the Israeli crackdown on pro-Hamas students in the West Bank is done in coordination with the PA security agencies. However, it is quite certain that Fatah stands to benefit from the weakening of Hamas on campuses.
"We know that Israel has been carrying out a witch hunt campaign against Hamas. But we in Fatah can not do any thing about it. But to suggest that Fatah conspires with the Israelis against Hamas is a total lie and disinformation," said one Fatah student leader in Hebron who asked for anonymity. Fatah resents any suggestion that it is collaborating with Israel.
None the less, it is clear that Israel is trying to intimidate potential supporters of Hamas by waving the sword of open-ended detention against them.
Meanwhile, Hamas is having second thoughts about the organization of general elections in the West Bank under the Israeli occupation. Islamist leaders have demanded "real guarantees that elections will be totally free and transparent," a condition that is impossible to meet given Israel's ubiquitous control in the occupied territory.
Last week, Ismael Haniyeh, the Prime Minister of the Hamas-led government in Gaza was quoted as saying "What is the point of holding elections in the West Bank when our candidates will be dumped behind Israeli bars either before or after elections?"