Gaza Strip, Gaza Strip (AP) — After months of torture and cross-examination in Hamas Prison, Palestinian activist Rami Aman states that she was presented with an unconventional proposal.
Aman recently signed a marriage contract with the daughter of a Hamas official and apparently wanted to dispel the allegations that the dominant Islamic extremist group supported Aman’s work on Israeli peace activists. He says he eventually fell into pressure. Now he says the love of his life has been kicked out of Gaza against her will, and he may never see her again.
“I noticed that I was sent there to spend some time breaking my relationship,” Aman said in an interview on the rooftop of his home in Gaza.
It was the final humiliation of the story, beginning with what he believed was an innocent online conference with Israeli peace activists. Instead, the episode landed him in a notorious cell known as the “Bass,” eventually destroying his marriage. His experience shows the severe restrictions on freedom of expression in Hamas-controlled territories and the hostility of radical groups to the story of coexistence with Israel.
Omar Shakir, Director of Israeli-Palestinians at Human Rights Watch, said:
Aman didn’t think he was doing anything destructive when he joined the fateful Zoom Call last April. Aman wanted to discuss a “double blockade” in Gaza, amid widespread closure when the coronavirus pandemic began.
“I wanted to let people know more about how they lived under the occupation and siege of Israel, deprived of the rights enjoyed by other parts of the world,” said 39-year-old Free. Aman, a lance writer, said.
Aman and his group of peace activists, the Gaza Youth Commission, talked about coexistence with dozens of Israelis for over two hours.
When the meeting was leaked, social media was filled with angry comments calling him a traitor. Some have urged Hamas, who has ruled Gaza since 2007, to take action.
Aman said on April 9 that he and seven members of his group had been summoned to internal security, an agency that deals with opponents and people accused of spying on Israel.
He said he was blindfolded and immediately sent to the “bus”. The bus is lined with kindergarten chairs and finally two toilets. There, he said, detainees were forced to sit in small chairs for days or weeks at a time with few breaks.
“They didn’t show me any evidence,” Aman said. He said he would sit in a chair from 6 am to 1 am, except when he was taken away for questioning or prayer. He was allowed to remove the blindfold only when he went to the bathroom. His prisoner called him with his prison number 6299.
The question focused on the Zoom conference and the people who might have been behind it. Aman was accused of cooperating with Israel-a crime punished by death.
The Gaza Youth Commission has held dozens of meetings with Israelis, Americans and Europeans under an initiative called Skype with Your Enemy. In 2019, Gaza and Israeli cyclists held a parallel ride on the other side of the barbed wire boundary fence.
He said at 1 am that the “bus rider” was allowed to sleep next to his chair with a blindfold. They woke up a few hours later for the Muslim dawn prayer, curled up in their jackets and lay down on the cold floor. In 2018 report, Human Rights Watch has documented a similar account.
The cross-examination ended a week later, but Aman said he had suffered 18 days on the bus before being transferred to a small cell.
Then the question went in a strange new direction.
Just two months ago, Aman signed a marriage contract with the daughter of an exiled Hamas official based in Egypt. Due to the blockade of the coronavirus, the couple did not have time to celebrate their wedding at a formal ceremony, but were considered married under Islamic law.
Aman said she met her in 2018 after she left her first husband. He said she believed in the message of peace and joined his team in some discussions with the Israelis. He asked not to publish her name, fearing it could harm her.
The implication that Hamas members were friendly to Israel is very embarrassing for the group. In an unrelated and much more serious case, Mosabu Youssef, the son of one of Hamas’ co-founders, spy on Israel from 1997 to 2007. Currently living in the United States, he is a solid critic of Hamas and the subject of 2014. documentary.
Aman said his new wife was arrested with him, but they were soon separated.
“She doesn’t want you,” the officer told him. “Both should be divorced.”
He said he had resisted the pressure to dissolve for two months. On June 28, she finally visited and told him that she had been released on bail.
“This wasn’t the woman I knew,” he said. “She was full of weakness and fear.” The officer was sitting in the room.
He asked her if she wanted to end the relationship, and she said so. “I know she didn’t say that from the bottom of her heart, and it was clear that she was under heavy pressure,” Aman said. He refused to allow her to divorce.
He had not yet been convicted of the crime, but in July he was transferred to Hamas Central Prison. There was no further cross-examination or torture.
On August 12, an Islamic judge visited and asked if he felt forced to divorce. Aman said so to him, and felt encouraged because Islamic law did not allow anyone to force a divorce. But then Imam turned his back on him.
“How are you forced? Do you see me holding a gun?” He says.
He said he had finally filed and signed a divorce notice after being promised to be released the next day.
Still, he remained in captivity for another two months. On October 25, Egypt opened the border with Gaza to allow Hamas delegations to travel to Cairo.
The next day, a Hamas court convicted Aman and two members of his team on vague charges of “weakening the spirit of revolution.” They were sentenced to one year in prison, but their remaining terms were suspended and released.
Only then did Aman learn that his wife had been taken with the Hamas delegation to Egypt and handed over to relatives living there.
The Associated Press contacted the woman and confirmed that she had been forced to divorce and wanted her husband to return.
The landlord of the Gaza apartment, where the woman lived, confirmed that she had collected her belongings with a Hamas official after she was released on bail. She was then taken to a women’s shelter until she moved to Egypt. A famous public figure, Hamas official, did not answer the call for comment.
Aman spends his days talking to his lawyers, human rights groups and sending text messages to Hamas officials. Internal security keeps his laptop, desktop computer, and his phone along with several other family-owned devices.
He also learned that he is currently forbidden to leave Gaza. In December, after receiving an invitation to speak at New York University, a Hamas officer said he had blocked entry into Israel to apply for a visa at the US Consulate.
Interior ministry spokesman EyadBozum confirmed the ban on travel, but said the issue was “in the process of being resolved” without giving details.
For now, Aman has set aside his political activity. “Now I’m in a personal fight. Go back to my wife.”