Palestinian Crowd Waves Flag and Hold Protests

An Israeli human rights group said last week that Israel has about 1,200 Palestinians detained who have not had a trial and don’t even know the reason they’re being held because of a murky law that allows them to be held on secret charges.

“The overall figure is outrageous,” Jessica Montell, the executive director of Hamoked, the rights group, told The Associated Press. “This is a patently illegal practice. These people should be given a fair trial or released.”

These inmates can see their time in custody increased indefinitely without any explanation. Israel has justified the detention in the name of fighting terrorism. The procedure is called “preventive detention.”

Over 4,500 Palestinians are detained in Israeli prisons, including 160 children, and Netanyahu’s hardline government is making sure they stay there. Itamar Ben-Gvir, the national security minister, last week changed the law that allows early release for Palestinian “administrative detainees” due to overcrowdingThe Middle East Monitor reported. 

“Administrative detainees” are Palestinians who are detained on so-called “secret evidence.” (Israeli Jews are not exposed to the law.)

The Supreme Court ruled in 2017 that inmates need a living space of about 48 square feet each and a shower and toilet. The judicial reforms being undertaken in Israel are expected to worsen the lives of Palestinians held in detention because the hardline Knesset’s rulings cannot be overturned by the court. 

The hardline government in Israel has given rise to a “steady increase in the number of Palestinian administrative detainees,” Haaretz, the Israeli paper, said.

“We are talking about detention without trial based solely on classified material, without effective judicial review and which can be extended indefinitely. This is arbitrary and clearly unacceptable detention,” Montell told the paper.

TRENDPOST: Palestinian inmates often resort to hunger strikes to protest the horrid living conditions. (See “HUNGER STRIKER DEATH SPARKS ROCKET EXCHANGE BETWEEN PALESTINE AND ISRAEL” 9 May 2023.)

We’ve reported on how it is an Israeli “practice” to keep the bodies of deceased Palestinian prisoners to use as leverage in a later trade. Hasan Jabareen, the director of Adalah, Palestinian human rights organization, told The New York Times that the policy is “collective punishment” against Palestinians. 

Khader Adnan, a senior figure in Islamic Jihad, died inside a jail in May after a hunger strike that stretched for 87 days. Adnan, a baker, had been arrested on suspicion of supporting terrorism in the occupied West Bank. His family called the charges bogus. He was never charged with any involvement in acts of violence, Amnesty International said.

“Adnan had gone on five hunger strikes before—four times in protest at Israel’s systematic and discriminatory use of administrative detention to imprison Palestinians without charge or trial, and once to protest his own solitary confinement,” the human-rights group said. “Like so many Palestinians in Israeli prisons, Khader Adnan had no other means of challenging the injustices to which he and thousands of others are subjected under Israel’s apartheid.”  (See “ISRAEL’S APARTHEID STATE NOT AN APARTHEID DECLARES WASHINGTON” 1 Aug 2023, “ISRAEL ACCUSED OF APARTHEID BY HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH” 4 May 2021, “APARTHEID STATE OF ISRAEL CLAMPING DOWN ON PALESTINIANS” 26 Apr 2022, and “ISRAEL RAIDS AND RANSACKS HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS AND CHURCH” 23 Aug 2022.)

Like the U.S., Israel uses the fear of terrorism to clamp down on human rights. 

An Israel Defense Forces spokesman told Haaretz that administrative detention is only used when security authorities have reliable information indicating a clear and present danger posed by the detainee and a lack of other options to remove the danger. The number of administrative detainees reflects the security threat posed by each detainee.”

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