On 12 March 2002, the families of six men detained by the Palestinian Authority received phone calls from the security forces, informing them that their relatives had escaped and fled towards Israel. No other details were given. The men have not been seen or heard from since.
‘Ali al-Khdair, Taiseer Ramadhan, Nazem Abu ‘Ali, Shaker Saleh, Ismail Ayash and Mohammad Alqrum were aged between 27 and 47 years at the time of their enforced disappearance.
They all come from the Salfit area of the Palestinian West Bank and had been detained between 2001 and 2002 by the Mukhabarat (General Intelligence Service) in Salfit.
No formal charges were known to have been brought against them but their families say they were accused of being “collaborators” with the Israeli security services.
While some Palestinians have become “collaborators” for financial gain and privileges, many have been forced to co-operate by Israeli intelligence agents - through blackmail, threats or exploitation (such as refusing to release them or their detained relatives unless they agree to become “collaborators”).
Before the six disappeared, their families visited them frequently in detention and said that they believed the men had been subjected to torture. They saw marks on their bodies where they had reportedly been tied by their hands and feet in painful positions, and marks on their faces or bodies, apparently from cigarette burns.
One family member was told unofficially by a member of the security services that they should stop looking for their missing relative “because he was killed”. None of the families has been provided with any evidence that they actually did escape from the prison and flee to Israel.
As far as Amnesty International is aware, the Palestinian authorities have conducted no investigation into either the enforced disappearance of the six men or the torture they reportedly suffered before going missing.
Over the years, the families have become increasingly despondent and desperate for information about their relatives.
Amnesty International has been campaigning on behalf of these six men for a number of years, calling on the Palestinian Authority to launch an investigation into their disappearance, provide their families with information on their fate and bring those responsible for their disappearance to justice.