Juana Ruiz Sánchez, an activist and international cooperator, arrested on April 13 by the Israeli government for “belonging to an illegal organization”, has seen that the date of her trial has been postponed from this Wednesday the 2nd to the next 7th of July1. The activist has been in Hasaron prison for almost two months, 25 kilometers north of Tel Aviv. The postponement was requested by her lawyer, since they had not been allowed to meet with enough time in advance to prepare her defense.
Juana worked at the NGO Health Work Committees (HWC)2, which these days is dedicated to vaccinating the Palestinian population against COVID 19. On April 13, she was returning home when 20 soldiers entered her house and they detained her without explanation. Juana, who has been in the West Bank for 35 years, was subjected to an exceptional military process reserved for Palestinian citizens and not Israeli nationals. For a month she was not informed what crime she had committed.
The activist was taken to a male detention center, which prevented her from going out to the courtyard among other circumstances3. She was deprived of her personal effects, including the glasses she needs to read, and she only had access to two meals a day. She has been prevented from meeting more than once with her husband, and the defense was not provided with the materials and evidence that the prosecution had. She was interrogated without the presence of her lawyer, who was prevented from visiting her defendant less than a week after the trial.
The Israeli Shin Bet (internal intelligence service) accuses Juana of diverting funds to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), an organization that Israel considers “terrorist”4. According to Israel, the PFLP operates a network of NGOs in the West Bank, including the HWC, which, through fraud and forgery and misrepresentation of documents, diverts funds from international cooperation to the group.
A spokeswoman for the family in Palestine considers that the arrest of the Spanish humanitarian worker and the search at the headquarters of the NGO where she works are part of a “strategy of the Israeli security services against Palestinian civil society organizations.” Israel undoubtedly seeks to use this trial as a method to question international cooperation in Palestine and to “scare” those who help the Palestinian people. It is in our power to denounce and demonstrate this situation and pressure our government to intercede in this case.
1 https://www.publico.es/politica/aplazado-juicio-militar-espanola-detenida-israel-abril.html 2 https://elpais.com/espana/2021-04-25/israel-mantiene-detenida-sin-cargos-desde-hace-dos-semanas-a-una-trabajadora-humanitaria-espanola.html?outputType=amp&__twitter_impression=true 3 https://blogs.publico.es/otrasmiradas/49467/juani-ruiz-proceso-sin-garantias-a-la-cooperacion-humanitaria/ 4 https://elpais.com/espana/2021-04-25/israel-mantiene-detenida-sin-cargos-desde-hace-dos-semanas-a-una-trabajadora-humanitaria-espanola.html?outputType=amp&__twitter_impression=true