Israel has been accused by Palestinian human rights and prisoners’ rights organizations of expanding its contentious administrative detention policy in order to weaken any nonviolent opposition to the occupation.
Since the beginning of this year, 400 arrests have been made under administrative detention criteria, according to Palestinian prisoners’ rights organizations.
Anti-Israel activists are the focus of orders issued under this strategy. During the May 2021 escalation between Palestinians and Israelis, it was widely utilized.
Palestinian detainees are kept without trial and without having committed a crime under this contentious system, based only on an Israeli opinion that they may transgress the law in the future.
This measure is meant to be preventative and has no time limit attached to it. There aren’t any legal proceedings pending. It can take effect on the instructions of a regional military commander, based on classified evidence that is not made public.
The captives are defenseless in the face of unknown claims with no way to refute them and no idea when they will be released.
“In response to recent confrontations between Palestinians and Israeli security forces, the Israeli authorities have begun to implement desperate measures by escalating and expanding the circle of administrative detention, which has recently affected dozens,” Qadoura Faris, the head of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club, told Arab News.
Faris predicted that, as happened following the escalations last May, many detainees would be forced to go on individual hunger strikes as a result of this approach.
Several Palestinians who have been subjected to this inhumane program have mounted hunger strikes in recent years, some of which have lasted as long as 141 days.
This behavior, according to Faris, revealed the bewilderment and anxiety that pervaded Israel’s “security” organizations.
“The Israeli military authorities’ latest administrative detention decisions against Palestinians will not provide Israel with security. It’s more of a show to appear powerless in the face of the Palestinian resistance’s escalation. “The Israeli military has a number of options for dealing with Palestinian resistance,” Faris told Arab News in Ramallah.
According to him, Israeli military authorities have renewed administrative detention orders for inmates, claiming that the security situation in the West Bank prevents their release. “So, while in prison, what did these detainees do to jeopardize Israel’s security?” Faris went on to say.
Approximately 500 Palestinians are being held as administrative detainees in Israel. The majority of them have been detained for years, including two women, Shrouk Al-Badan from Bethlehem and Bushra Al-Taweel from Al-Bireh, as well as prisoner Khalil Awawda, who has been on hunger strike for the 36th day in a row as a form of protest.
In the meantime, the inmates’ boycott of Israeli courts in protest of their incarceration has reached its 97th day.
Apart from the absence of medical care, Palestinian human rights organizations are fighting to end this policy, which is believed to be the most harmful to detainees.
Faris accused international groups of disregarding the plight of these detainees, accusing many of them of “coexisting with this policy,” which they do not view as “a violation and…
intimidation and injustice against Palestinians by Israel.”
The policy was heavily enforced during the first Intifada, from 1987 to 1993, was halted in 1997 and 1998, and then resumed in late 2000 with the outbreak of the second Al-Aqsa Intifada.
Since 2015, the Israeli military has issued over 8,700 administrative detention orders against Palestinians.
In 2016, the highest number of orders was 1,742. Between the end of 2011 and the end of 2021, administrative detainees staged almost 400 individual hunger strikes, as well as a 62-day combined strike in 2014.
Every year on April 17, Palestinians mark Prisoners Day because no family is without a relative who has been detained by Israeli soldiers.
More than one million Palestinians have been detained since Israel’s occupation began in mid-1967.
Women, 160 children, the sick, and the elderly are among the 4,400 people still held in Israeli prisons. Some have been held captive for more than 42 years. Nael Barghouthi is the prisoner with the longest sentence.
“Israel regularly employs administrative detention and has detained thousands of Palestinians for periods ranging from months to years without prosecuting them, telling them what they are accused of, or revealing the claimed proof to them or their lawyers,” according to a B’Tselem report.
B’Tselem, a Jerusalem-based non-profit, aims to document human rights breaches in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian areas, oppose denials of such violations, and contribute to the creation of a human rights culture in Israel.