Basim Ahmad Moussa Za’rir

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Basim Ahmad Moussa Za'rir


PLC Member Basim Za'rir was arrested on 1 January 2009, when Israeli soldiers arrived at his home just after 2:00am. Despite the early morning hour, the soldiers forced all the members of the house outside and started beating his eldest son Ahmad after asking him to open the door, show his ID and raise his hands. After beating Ahmad all over his body with their hands and rifles, the Israeli soldiers searched the house. While the search was occurring, additional soldiers ordered all the men above the age of 16 living in the house nearby Mr. Za'rir's to come outside as well. Among those ordered outside were Mr. Za'rir's brother and his brother's children. The soldiers then began to interrogate everyone outside, and asked questions about Mr. Za'rir's brothers who live abroad.

Mr. Za'rir was then arrested by the soldiers and was taken to Etzion detention centre where he remained for a week before being transferred to Ofer. He was then placed under an administrative detention order and kept in detention for approximately two months before being transferred again to Ketziot prison in the Negev where he still remains. The administrative detention order against Mr. Za'rir was for a six month period, lasting from his arrest on 1 January 2009 until 2 July 2009. His attorney filed an appeal on Mr. Za'rir's behalf, challenging this order less than a month after the judicial review took place, but the appeal was denied.

On 2 July, instead of being released, Mr. Za'rir was informed that his administrative detention order would be extended for another six months. The judge at the judicial review for the second order confirmed the additional six month period, setting the current order's expiration date for 1 January 2010. Mr. Za'rir's order was subsequently renewed twice and he was finally released on 30 December 2010.


Prior to his current administrative detention, Mr. Za'rir had been arrested four times and never sentenced once. In 1993, he was arrested and detained for one month of interrogation before being released without charge. Four years later, in 1997, two months of interrogation again proved nothing, and he was subsequently released without charge for a second time. In 2005, Mr. Za'rir was arrested and detained for one month, yet again without charge. However, in 2006, Mr. Za'rir was elected to the Legislative Council, and was arrested six months later on charges of belonging to the Change and Reform Bloc. After spending two years in detention awaiting trial on these charges, Mr. Za'rir was tried before the military courts, and was acquitted of all charges and finally released on 23 June 2008. A mere six months later, he was arrested once more and placed under administrative detention without charge or trial.

Mr. Za'rir's case is a prime example of Israel's arbitrary use of administrative detention as a substitute for prosecution in cases of unavailable or insufficient evidence.


Mr. Za'rir was elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council on 25 January 2006 as an independent candidate. Prior to his election to the Council, he was Head of the Municipality of as-Samu' village. He also served previously as a Secretary to the Commission of the Zakat Fund and contributed to many projects, including the establishment of the Avicenna medical centre in As-Samu' at a time when there was only one clinic in the whole village. Mr. Za'rir also established a centre for Quran studies and a kindergarten that both operated under his supervision.

He did not resign his post as Deputy in the Legislative Council, but, following his imprisonment, his work has been considerably disrupted. Mr. Za'rir graduated with a Bachelor's in Business Administration from Birzeit University in 1985.


Located in the heart of the Negev desert near the southern Israeli-Egyptian border, Ketziot prison is one of the largest prisons in Israel, accommodating around 1,778 prisoners, (As of end of August 2010) including a large percentage of the 190 Palestinian administrative detainees currently held in Israeli prisons. Mr. Za'rir suffered from a lack of adequate clothing; the clothes he needed were not provided by the Israeli prison authorities, nor were they allowed to be brought in by his family. Mr. Zarir's family attempted to mail clothes to him and to bring clothes in person, but most of the clothes were sent back or confiscated from the family during their visits.

Mr. Za'rir is the father of 13 children. However, he could only be visited once a month as opposed to the bi-monthly visits allowed by the Israeli Prison Service regulations by his first wife, three of their youngest boys and one daughter. All of his sons above the age of 16 were denied permits. The same regular denials were issued to Mr. Za'rir's second wife. Her permit application was rejected based on "security grounds" and, as a result, she was not able to visit him at all. She believes that the denial of permits were a collective punishment of the family as two of her brothers are former detainees, one of whom was exiled to Marj Al-Zuhur in southern Lebanon in December 1992, together with more than 400 other Palestinian social and political activists.

Administrative detention is a procedure that allows the Israeli military to hold detainees indefinitely on secret evidence without charging them or allowing them to stand trial. In the occupied Palestinian West Bank, the Israeli army is authorized to issue administrative detention orders against Palestinian civilians on the basis of Military Order 1651. This order empowers military commanders to detain an individual for up to six month renewable periods if they have "reasonable grounds to presume that the security of the area or public security require the detention." On or just before the expiry date, the detention order is frequently renewed. This process can be continued indefinitely.

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