PRESS RELEASE

Released @ 11:00 hours GMT, 30th December, ‏1998

The Palestinian Security Forces Have Imposed a Severe House

Arrest on the Al-Ghoul Family for the Past 20 Days

For the 20th consecutive day the General Intelligence Forces imposed a house arrest on the family of the escaped detainee, Yehya Mahmoud Al-Ghoul (also known as Adnan). Specifically, his wife, Wafa, has been prevented from leaving the house. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights calls upon the Palestinian Authority (PA) to intervene in order to stop the suffering of the Al-Ghoul family and to stop the collective punishment imposed against it.

Yehya Mahmoud Al-Ghoul (38 years old from Al-Mugraqa) was held in El-Saria prison in Gaza for political reasons related to his affiliation with Hamas. In the morning of Friday, December 11, 1998, he escaped from his prison after he cut through the bars of his prison cell.

At 9:30 a.m. of the same day, the General Intelligence Forces approached the houses of Yehya Mahmoud Al-Ghoul and his brother Omar Al-Ghoul (currently under arrest in an Israeli prison) in Al-Mugraqa area close to Gaza Valley. The forces arrested Wafa, her sister Suhair (who is also the wife of Omar), and the son of Omar and Suhair. In the middle of the night, Suhair and her son were released while Wafa stayed under arrest until the next day and was only released after a mediation session between her family and the General Intelligence Forces. Her release was conditioned on her not returning to her home and her agreement to stay in the house of her father located in Al-Shati Camp. Following this agreement, Wafa was released and returned to the home of her father until the General Intelligence Forces allowed her to return to her house in Al-Mugraqa on December 18, 1998.

On December 12, 1998, the General Intelligence Forces summoned several relatives of the escaped detainee. Six of them were arrested, while the seventh one did not turn himself in and is still wanted by the General Intelligence Forces. Three of these six detainees were released after 10 days, while the other three remain under arrest.

Starting on December 11, 1998, the General Intelligence Forces stayed in front of the two houses of the families for 24 hours daily and prevented Wafa and Suhair from leaving their houses. There are 14 children living in the two houses and they were prohibited from leaving the houses or going to school on the day of December 12. An 11-year-old child is now doing the shopping for the families.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights regards with deep concern the measures being taken by the General Intelligence Forces toward the Al-Ghoul family. PCHR sees these measures as a collective punishment against the family in clear violation of Palestinian and international laws prohibiting such punishments. PCHR is reminded of similar measures taken in the West Bank following the escape of the detainee Imad Awadallah from his prison in Jericho on August 15, 1998. At that point, the Palestinian Security Forces put his family under house arrest in Al-Bireh for many days.

The Centre calls on the PA and all popular organizations to intervene to stop the suffering of the Al-Ghoul family immediately.