Women's Organization for Political Prisoners (WOFPP)

September 2006

Urgent letter

In a pre-dawn raid on Friday, 8 September 2006, Israeli security forces closed down the offices of Ansar al-Sajin (The Prisoners' Friends Association) , an NGO registered under Israeli law which offers support to Palestinian political prisoners. Police officers and General Security Services agents confiscated computers and hundreds of documents from the organization’s offices in the Galilee town of Majd al-Krum. Raids were conducted also in Ansar al-Sajin offices in the West Bank. The raid followed a formal declaration by the Israeli Minister of Defense that the organization was illegal.

Ansar al-Sajin has been active since 1979, helping prisoners and their families to cope with the difficulties they face during periods of imprisonment. Thus, beyond providing legal aid to prisoners, the organization has also helped Palestinian families to overcome bureaucratic obstacles in organizing family visits and, in cases of difficulties with the postal service, transferring letters from the Occupied Territories to prisons located within the 1967 borders of Israel. It has also cared for the health of prisoners and helped them to receive medical treatment.

Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, has taken on the legal battle on behalf of Ansar al-Sajin and is challenging the Defense Minister's decision. However, the legal battle is not enough. The decision to shut down the organization's offices and the police raid are clear cases of political harassment, consistent with previous attempts to obstruct and hinder the work of any human rights organization dealing with the welfare of Palestinian political prisoners. In this case, the order came in the wake of the launch of a campaign by the organization, in which it called for the inclusion of 1948 Palestinian prisoners (citizens of Israel) in the current talks on the exchange of prisoners.

We call upon the international human rights community to protest against Israel’s actions in this matter. Please call or write to the Israeli Embassy in your country or directly to the Israeli Ministry of Defense (Tel: 972-3-6975423; Fax: 972-3-6976711 Email pniot@mod.gov.il) and the Prime Minister’s office (Tel. 972-33-6109898, 972-2-6705555; Fax: 972-2-6705475 Email: pniot@mod.gov.il) expressing your concern about their blatantly anti-democratic behavior.

Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel
Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI)
Hamoked Center for the Defence of the Individual
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR)
The Israeli Action Committee for Palestinian Prisoners and Detainees
Women's Organization for Political Prisoners (WOFPP)