Ameer Makhoul is a notable figure of the national Palestinian leadership and the international civil society as he is a human rights defender. Ameer serves as the general director of Ittijah – The Union of Arab Community Based Associations which is founded in 1995. He also serves as the Chairman of the Public Committee for the Defense of Political Freedom in the framework of the High Follow-up Committee for the Arab Citizens of Israel.
Ameer Makhoul represents Ittijah and enjoys a special consultative status in the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UN ECOSOC). He is also a member of the International Council of the World Social Forum, a founder member of the EURO-MED NGO platform that includes 200 organizations, a distinguished member of CIVICUS (World Alliance for Citizen Participation) and a coordinator of the Coordination Unit for Palestinian Civil Society at Home and in Exile (Diaspora). As well, Ameer was one of the founders of the Mithaq al-Mussawa movement and the National Democratic Assembly at its early stages. He also served as a defender of women’s rights and an opponent to violence. he was a founder member of Badeel organization – a coalition against honor crimes in Arab society.
He was a former leader and founder of the Arab students’ movement in the eighties and a former president of the National committee of Arab University Students in Israel.
He participated actively in tens of the international and regional conferences and he was the president of the delegation of Arab organizations from Israel at the 2001 World Conference against Racism in Durban, South Africa.
Besides his activist career, Ameer is a writer and analyst in political, social and civil society topics. He participated in the writing and articulation of the Haifa Declaration that stated the vision for the future of Palestinians in the state of Israel.
Ameer is a resident of Haifa. He is married and a father of two daughters.
ARREST, DETENTION, TRIAL, AND SENTENCING
Ameer Makhoul, was arrested on the 6th of May 2010 by the Shabak (GSS)
It took place when sixteen members of the Israeli police attacked the house brutally. They woke the family up around 3 a.m. by strong and frightening knocks on the door. They entered in the house, went into the rooms turned them upside down and confiscated the computer and the cell phones of the family, including his daughters’ ones. They treated his wife and daughter very badly and talked to them violently. It’s worth mentioning that the Shabak had had the order of searching for two weeks before the raid but they intended doing it that way. They arrested Ameer that way and meanwhile another police group has entered in the offices of ITTJAH, taken the computers and other important materials of the organization. For more details click here
This is part of the escalation of the Israeli policy of prosecution against active political figures, leaders, human rights defenders and activist, as an attempt to crush the popular movement to defend the rights and existence of the Palestinian people.
As known/for the record , almost 100% from charges at what so called “security charges” at Israel, was found guilty and sent to jail for so long time.
During Ameer trail the persecution used what so called “Security evidence” that even the defiance time of lawyers are not allowed to see or know what is that, people in Israel could be sent to jail and jailed for so long time with this kind of evidence!!.
Following the arrest of Ameer, a committee was formed under the name “The Popular Committee for the Defense of Ameer Makhoul” which aims at demanding an immediate release for Ameer and supporting his issue.
In October 2010, due to the advice of his lawyers team, Ameer admitted to contacting a foreign agent, conspiring to assisting an enemy in a time of war, and aggravated espionage for Hezbollah, as a part of a plea bargain. The most serious charge, “assisting an enemy in war”, which could have carried a life sentence, was dropped by the prosecution as a result of the bargain. The Haifa District Court sentenced Ameer in January 2011 to “nine years in prison and another year suspended sentence for charges of spying and contact with a foreign agent from the Lebanon-based Hezbollah militant organization.”
On 31 January 2011, Ameer was sentenced by the district court of Haifa for 9 year jailing, added to this 2 years of conditional release.
Ameer’s case was one of the most issue to be covered by the media, during 2010-2011, and still on the agenda of a lot of organizations, camping for his release andsending him solidarity cards to the jail.
However, Ameer and his family have since maintained that his confession was coerced. During his interrogation, Ameer was subjected to both physical and mental duress that constitute torture, including 72 hours of sleep deprivation being tied in legs and arms to a small and a low chair.
He is currently serving his sentence in the Israeli prison of Gilboa.
Ameer Makhoul’s case is one example amidst a recent escalated campaign by Israeli authorities against Palestinian human rights defense and civil resistance. In addition to arbitrary arrest and detention, Israeli authorities have met Palestinian human rights activism with a variety of measures, including raids, deportations, travel bans, visa denials and media attacks against NGOs.
The Shin Bet (The GSS) has been criminalizing contacts between Israeli Palestinians living within the Green Line and those in the Palestinian Diaspora. There is an obvious attempt by the Israeli security services to combat attempts by Palestinian nationalist groups to re-define Israel as anything else other than a Jewish State. This was enunciated by Shin Bet director Yuval Diskin in 2007, who warned that his agency would combat such political agitation with every means at its disposal even if the political activity was considered legal in the Israeli context.
SUPPORT FOR AMEER AND REACTIONS TO ARREST:
During Ameer’s arrest and later during the hearing court and the detention, demonstrations had been held in front of the court room. Many human rights organizations, parties local and international, have condemned Ameer’s arrest and incarceration as a form of harassment on peaceful political activists, and have called for his immediate and unconditional release by sending statements and letters to the Israeli government. Blogs and facebook groups have been published under the title of “Free Ameer Makhoul”, for reporting, following up and updating his case. His writings and writings about him have been published and translated to several languages (Arabic, English, Spanish, French, Greek, Italian, Hebrew.), Below are the names of some organizations that expresses SUPPORT FOR AMEER .
- Amnesty International: Described the conviction as a “very disturbing development,” and called on the Israeli authorities to end what they described as “harassment of Palestinian human rights activists.” Stated that they were “extremely concerned by allegations that he was tortured and otherwise ill-treated following his arrest.”
- Adalah: has published a page on Ameer’s case. Serious Suspicion of Shabak (GSS) Use of Illegal Methods of Interrogation Against Human Rights Defender Ameer Makhoul.
- Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, lunched a blog on Ameer’s case: called Free Ameer Makhoul.
- Civicus: Civil society calls on the Israeli Government to release Ameer Makhoul, Take Action: Free Ameer Makhoul
- AOHR: The Arab Organization for Human Rights, based in Cairo.
- EMHRN: Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network, called for his immediate release
- United Civilians for Peace ( Cordaid, ICCO, IKV Pax Christi, Oxfoam Novib) calling for the unconditioned release, Take Action Campaign
- Platform of Solidarity with Palestinian- Seville, Spain
- Human Rights Association of Andalusia – Spain
- Foundation Frantz Fanon- Paris- Franc.
- UJFP- The French Jewish Union for Peace
- North California Friends of Sabeel
- Several International Human Rights organizations, and Individuals sent letter to PM Hiller Clinton urging freedom for Ameer Makhoul, some of this organizations are:
- National Lawyers Guild (NY)
- Center for Constitutional Rights (NY)
- International Association of Democratic Lawyers (Belgium)
- Grassroots International (Boston)
- Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice (Washington)
- Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions (US)
- International Solidarity Movement (US)
- Progressive Democrats of America (US)