5 September 2002 Edition

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Recent visitor's father arrested in Palestine

In the recent visit by a number of Palestinian young people to Ireland as guests of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the youngest of the delegation, Hanine Al Khairi touched a lot of hearts. While here, she met with representatives from the political parties in the 26 Counties, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, a delegation from the Holy Cross Primary School and various other groups.

Hanine's story included the bombing of her home by Israeli helicopters while her family was still inside, along with other experiences of life under the Occupation. However, just a week after Hanine returned to her home, her house in Ramallah was raided and her father was arrested.

Hanine, who is only 15, e-mailed the visit organiser, Feilim ó hAdhmaill with the news:

"I am in a really bad situation. Today Israel took my father to jail and I am living alone with my mother. There is a curfew so nobody can do anything for us. 300 Israeli soldiers came to my house and took my father in a very savage way."

Hanine's father, Bashir Al Khairi, was arrested, along with 14 others, under Israeli legislation termed "administrative detention".

Under this legislation, any member of the Palestinian community can be interned incommunicado without trial for up to 18 days. During this period, the internees face endless interrogation. Those arrested can be charged, interned for a further period or released.

Al Khairi is a lawyer who has been involved in left wing politics for many years. He has been involved in the promotion of human rights and has worked to expose the activities of the Israeli government against Palestinians. He is viewed as an intellectual and as a political activist and is well acquainted with leading left-wing Israelis.

Speaking after he heard the news, Gerry Kelly, Sinn Féin Assembly member for north Belfast, said:

"I met with Hanine while the delegation of Palestinian youths were visiting Belfast. The accounts of life in Palestine from the group were astounding. Life under the Occupation is hard enough without having to return home to find that your father is interned.

"The nationalist community can empathise all too well with the effects of internment and arbitrary detention on family and community life. In the past 30 years the tactic has been used in an attempt to break down any form of opposition to British rule in Ireland.

"I have to say I am still impressed by the resilience of one so young. While Hanine was in Belfast she spoke with strength and determination about her hopes for the future. Unfortunately, now Hanine has to talk to the friends she made in Ireland in an attempt to free her father."

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