Israel detains Palestinian human rights defender without trial or charges

Israel detains Palestinian human rights defender without trial or charges

Baraa Awad Ahmad Odeh is a Palestinian human rights defender who worked for the “Strengthening Youth for the Stabilisation of Palestine” project implemented by the German Development Cooperation (GIZ). She was arrested on March 5, 2024 while passing through a border crossing to get back to Palestine. Since, she has been held in administrative detention. She was told that she would be detained for three months. She is currently held in Damon prison.

Baraa Awad Ahmad Odeh, born in Bethlehem, is a Palestinian human rights defender who worked for the “Strengthening Youth for the Stabilisation of Palestine” project implemented by the German Development Cooperation (GIZ).

Working on this project, Odeh contributed to providing safe spaces for Palestinian youth, bettering their social life and experiences, and strengthening their psychological wellbeing. From the onset of Israel’s war on Gaza, she particularly dedicated herself to addressing the mental health needs of Palestinian youth.

On March 5, 2024, while she was on her way into Palestine, Odeh was stopped by Israeli forces at the border crossing. There, they took her passport, told her she would be taken in for questioning, and made her wait for two hours. They asked her questions about her passport and about her work abroad in Germany. Then, they informed her that she would be detained, without presenting her an arrest warrant or informing her of the reason for her arrest.

She was blindfolded, handcuffed, and taken by car to a military camp near Jericho. In the camp, she was interrogated by a doctor where she informed him about her severe allergy to antibiotics, as well as other medications. After that encounter, she was transferred to Ofer prison, where she was searched, and then taken to a cell. After spending about 45 minutes in the cell, she was taken for interrogation, where she was asked general questions. The Israeli officers told her she is a “threat” to the “nation’s security”. She was only allowed to speak to a lawyer after the interrogation.

Once the interrogation was over, Odeh was blindfolded, handcuffed once again, and transferred to Hasharon prison. A few moments later, a male Israeli guard came close to her, lifted her by the neck and beat her. During the assault, the guard was holding keys in his hand, leaving her with marks and injuries on her body as a result. She was then transferred to a cell with two thin mattresses and a sickening smell. The window of her cell did not have any glass, thereby allowing cold air to seep through. The bathroom was covered in faeces, prompting her to request to be taken to a different bathroom. Her request was denied until the next day, 6 March 2024, at 7 a.m., when she was taken to a different bathroom.

At 9:30 a.m. on the same day, Odeh was transferred to Damon prison, where she was once more interrogated. She was then forced to sign a paper written in Hebrew, which she could not understand. While she first refused to sign the paper, she got yelled at by the Israeli officers, and ended up giving in. Then, they blindfolded Odeh, cuffed her hands behind her back and cuffed her feet. She was then taken to meet with her lawyer where her blindfold was removed, and her hands were cuffed to the front.

Odeh was told that she would be held in administrative detention for three months, from 13 March 2024 until 4 June 2024. She currently remains detained in Damon prison.

On May 6, 2024, Addameer, Stop the Wall and MENA Rights Group submitted the case of Odeh alongside two other Palestinian human rights defenders, Omar al-Khatib and Sumoud Mtair, to the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, requesting her urgent intervention.

The human rights abuses against these three human rights defenders are being committed in the context of Israeli authorities’ systemic oppression and incarceration of Palestinians, characterised by the UN as "ongoing policies of harassment, threats, intimidation and reprisals, detention and expulsion against human rights defenders, journalists, media workers and civil society actors who peacefully advocate for the rights of the Palestinian people."

Timeline

May 6, 2024: Addameer, Stop the Wall and MENA Rights Group urgently appeal to the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, urging her to call for Odeh’s release.
March 6, 2024: Odeh is transferred to Damon prison, where she is forced to sign a paper written in Hebrew that she can not understand and informed of her administrative detention for three months.
March 5, 2024: Israeli forces detain Odeh without an arrest warrant at the border crossing while she is on her way back into Palestine.

Related