Brigadier General Naama Rosen-Grimberg Approved Arbitrary Administrative Detention Order Against 74-year-old Palestinian-American Jamal Niser, Detained for 12 Months Without Charge or Trial
(Washington, D.C., July 11, 2023): The US State Department should issue a visa ban and deny entry to Brigadier General Naama Rosen-Grimberg, Military Secretary to Israeli President Isaac Herzog, for severely violating the human rights of Jamal Niser, an American citizen, ordering his wrongful detention for four months, said Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN).
Prolonged, arbitrary detention without charge or due process is a gross violation of human rights and grounds for revoking her visa and denying her entry to the United States. Rosen-Grimberg is expected to join President Herzog on his upcoming visit to Washington, D.C. in late July.
"The Biden Administration has an opportunity to prove that the protection of American citizens abroad is a real priority by punishing, those who wrongfully imprison citizens for political reasons, even when the abuser is an Israeli military official," said Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man, Research Director, Israel/Palestine at DAWN. "Rosen-Grimberg could have decided not to sign Jamal Niser's detention order but her decision to act as a rubber stamp for the political detention of an American citizen must have consequences."
According to classified court documents reviewed by DAWN, Israeli authorities said Mr. Niser's detention was directly related to his support and participation of Palestinian elections. According to interviews DAWN conducted with two of Mr. Niser's family members, he was indeed involved in promoting a slate of independent candidates in Palestinian legislative elections in 2021. Those elections never took place.
Prior to her appointment as the Military Secretary to the President of the State of Israel in July 2022, Brig. Gen. Rosen-Grimberg served as the IDF Central Command's Intelligence Officer. The Central Command is responsible for administering the occupied West Bank. In this capacity, Brig. Gen. Rosen-Grimberg played a central role in the arbitrary detention of Mr. Niser, a preventative detention based on uncorroborated secret evidence, for his peaceful involvement in local Palestinian Authority elections. Specifically, Rosen-Grimberg signed and authorized Mr. Niser's administrative detention order, a gross violation of his human rights.
Article 285 of IDF Military Order 1651 authorizes the military commander of the West Bank to put anyone in administrative detention if they determine that person poses a danger to security of the occupied territory. In practice, Israel's Shin Bet intelligence service sends a form requesting an administrative detention order to the IDF Central Command's senior intelligence officer giving a short summary of intelligence information, and the intelligence officer signs an administrative detention order of up to six months, renewable indefinitely. Generally speaking, those orders are issued after the detainee has already been in custody for several days or weeks. An administrative detainee must be brought before a military court within eight days for judicial review and approval. According to data the IDF provided to Haaretz, military judges approved 99 percent of administrative detention orders in 2022. As of July 1, 2023, Israel was holding 1,132 Palesitnians in administrative detention without charge or trial. The number of Jewish Israeli citizens held in administrative detention is in the low single digits.
Mr. Niser, a U.S. citizen and resident of 40 years, was 74-years-old when the Israeli military arbitrarily imprisoned him for the first time. Several months later, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention determined that Mr. Niser's detention was "arbitrary," citing among other reasons that Israel denied him due process or any way to defend himself due to the exclusive use of secret evidence to justify his imprisonment.
Brig. Gen. Rosen-Grimberg's authorization of Mr. Niser's administrative detention sealed his fate, as 99% of administrative detention orders signed by an intelligence officer are approved by military court judges. Neither Niser nor his attorney were allowed to view the alleged evidence against him, including a summary of his interrogation—an absurdity considering it is ostensibly a document outlining what Jamal himself said. This would be the first of a total of seven administrative detention sentences that Mr. Niser would serve over the next two years, although Brig. Gen. Rosen-Grimberg signed only the first.
Following pressure from the United States, Israeli authorities released Niser from his most recent administrative detention on April 20, 2023, though they continue to prevent him from returning to the United States or even traveling to Jerusalem to receive critical medical treatment, effectively keeping him under a form of domestic detention.
"Israeli authorities are still abusing Mr. Niser, as he is unable to leave the West Bank or even to travel to Jerusalem to receive urgently needed medical care," said Adam Shapiro, Advocacy Director, Israel/Palestine at DAWN. "Rosenberg-Grimberg should not be feted at the White House given her central role in Niser's abuse, who can barely see because he is not allowed to return to the United States to receive treatment."
The United States should impose sanctions against Brig. Gen. Rosen-Grimberg for her role in the arbitrary detention of an American citizen, a severe violation of human rights and potential war crime. The Secretary of State should impose a travel ban on Brig. Gen. Rosen-Grimberg under Section 212(a)(3)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, and weigh potential financial sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and Executive Order 13818. Furthermore, if the Secretary determines that Mr. Niser was "wrongfully detained," as DAWN has encouraged, he should impose parallel sanctions against Brig. Gen. Rosen-Grimberg under the Robert Levinson Hostage Recovery and Hostage-Taking Accountability Act.
"The very least the Biden administration can do is stop covering its own eyes when Israel so grossly abuses American citizens," said Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man. "Banning Rosen-Grimberg will send an important message to the United States' partners and allies that at least when it comes to protecting Americans, the Biden Administration hasn't completely abandoned human rights in its foreign policy."