Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Office of the Prime Minister
PO Box 187
3 Kaplan Street Kiryat Ben-Gurion
Jerusalem 91919 Israel
Fax: +972 2 651 2631 / 02-670-5475 Tel: +972 (2) 6705463;
Fax: +972 (2) 5605008
I am William Nicholas Gomes, Human rights defender and Freelance journalist.
On 3 February 2016, human rights defender Mr Awni Abu Shamsiyya, son of human rights defender Mr Emad Abu Shamsiyya, was arrested alongside youth activist Mr Nizar Silhab Al-tamimi. The arrest took place after a raid on the Shamsiyya family home in Tel-Rumeida, Hebron. Awni Abu Shamsiyya and Nizar Silhab Al-tamimi were accused of throwing a Molotov cocktail at Israeli soldiers and of posting inflammatory statements on Facebook.
Awni Abu Shamsiyya is a 16 year old human rights defender, known for his participation in the Palestinian non-violent popular resistance movement in Hebron.He is also an active member of the Human Rights Defenders Group, a non-partisan group that aims to document and expose violations of international law and injustice against families in areas of conflict under Israeli occupation. His father, Emad Abu Shamsiyya, is a long-standing activist in Palestine and volunteer at B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, where he is involved in documenting the occupation of Tel-Rumeida. Emad Abu Shamsiyya is also a deputy coordinator of the Human Rights Defenders Group.
On 4 February 2016, Awni Abu Shamsiyya and Nizar Silhab Al-tamimi were interrogated by Israeli police and intelligence services before being brought before the military court of Ofer, where the accusations against the young activists of throwing a Molotov cocktail at Israeli soldiers and posting inflammatory statements on social media were presented, and a fine of 2000 Shekels (approximately €460) was requested by the military prosecutor. The court ordered Awni Abu Shamsiyya’s release after holding that the accusations against him had not been proven, however, the trial of Nizar Silhab Al-tamimi was postponed to 7 February 2016 after it was claimed by the military prosecutor that his confession had been obtained.
At approximately midday on 3 February 2016, a group of 20 soldiers had arrested Awni Abu Shamsiyya and his Nizar Silhab Al-tamimi, after a raid on the Shamsiyya family home in Tel-Rumeida, Hebron, which lies next to the illegal settlement of Tel Rumeida. They were detained at the Ofer military prison, near Ramallah.
Emad Abu Shamsiyya and his family have been subjected to repeated harassment as a result of his human rights activism, including physical attacks, raids on their family home, and repeated arrests. In September 2015, the human rights defender and his son were subjected to travel restrictions after being invited to talk about their family life and the importance the documentation work of the Human Rights Defenders Group on television. In May 2015, Emad Abu Shamsiyya’s family home was subjected to an attempted arson attack by settlers in the middle of the night. In March 2015, a group of soldiers invaded his family home, searched the house and confiscated the family’s computer hard disk and a memory card containing footage filmed by B’Tselem volunteers.
I express my concern at the arrest of Awni Abu Shamsiyya and Nizar Silhab Al-tamimi, and the pattern of intimidation and harassment against Awni and Emad Abu Shamsiyyah and their family, which I believed are directly motivated by their legitimate and peaceful human rights activities promoting and protecting human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
I urge the authorities in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories to:
1. Immediately cease any further harassment against Awni and Emad Abu Shamsiyyah;
2. Immediately and unconditionally release youth activist Nizar Silhab Al-tamimi, and drop all outstanding judicial proceedings against him;
3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.
William Nicholas Gomes
Human Rights Defender & Freelance Journalist