+972 Magazine's Stories of the Week

Directly In Your Inbox

Analysis News
Visit our Hebrew site, "Local Call" , in partnership with Just Vision.

Israel to keep Palestinian clown in prison without trial

Mohammed Abu Sakha, a circus performer, and Hasan Safadi, a prisoner rights advocate, have both had their administrative detention extended by six months. 

Mohammed Abu Sakha (photo: Courtesy of Addameer)

Mohammed Abu Sakha (photo: Courtesy of Addameer)

Israeli authorities last week extended the administrative detention of Mohammed Abu Sakha, a Palestinian clown and children’s entertainer, by six months. Abu Sakha, who has been in jail without trial since December 2015, is now not due to be released until June 2017, according to Palestinian prisoner rights group Addameer.

The administrative detention of Addameer’s media coordinator, journalist Hasan Safadi, was also extended by six months last week. Safadi will not be released until June 2017, by which time he will have spent over a year in detention.

Administrative detention orders are used by Israel to imprison detainees without charging them or bringing them to trial, on the basis of secret evidence. Such orders can be renewed indefinitely for up to six months at a time. They can also be used to extend the jail time of someone who has finished serving their sentence, as with Bilal Kayed, who was sentenced to administrative detention after completing a 15-year prison term.

Abu Sakha, who has been a member of the Palestinian Circus School since 2007 and taught there until his detention, was arrested on his way to work while crossing a military checkpoint near Nablus, in the West Bank. He was placed in administrative detention shortly after, which has now been extended twice.

At the time, the IDF Spokesperson said that Abu Sakha had been arrested for “his involvement in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine,” deeming him a “severe security threat.” According to Addameer, that assessment remained unchanged at the time of Abu Sakha’s latest hearing, on December 5.

During one of his hearings, Abu Sakha, who specializes in working with children with special needs, told the court: “I am a circus performer. I am a clown. I have traveled around Europe and met with all kinds of people, Palestinians, Israelis, Americans. I have no intention of engaging in violent acts.”

Safadi, meanwhile, was arrested on May 1, 2016, and put in administrative detention on June 10. The military prosecutor allegedly claimed during his initial trial that he had ties to an illegal organization and that he had visited an enemy country (Lebanon) on more than one occasion. According to Addameer, Safadi was subjected to sleep deprivation and put in stress positions during a number of his interrogations. He has been denied family visits, as has Abu Sakha.

There are currently around 720 Palestinians in administrative detention in Israeli prisons, according to Addameer.

Newsletter banner

Before you go...

A lot of work goes into creating articles like the one you just read. And while we don’t do this for the money, even our model of non-profit, independent journalism has bills to pay.

+972 Magazine is owned by our bloggers and journalists, who are driven by passion and dedication to the causes we cover. But we still need to pay for editing, photography, translation, web design and servers, legal services, and more.

As an independent journalism outlet we aren’t beholden to any outside interests. In order to safeguard that independence voice, we are proud to count you, our readers, as our most important supporters. If each of our readers becomes a supporter of our work, +972 Magazine will remain a strong, independent, and sustainable force helping drive the discourse on Israel/Palestine in the right direction.

Support independent journalism in Israel/Palestine Donate to +972 Magazine today
View article: AAA
Share article
Print article

    * Required


    1. Carmen

      Meanwhile, the clowns in office have the freedom of movement Palestinians can only dream of. Lock them up.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Lewis from Afula

      This “clown” is actually an Islamic terrorist. He is engaged in Hamas-Isis collaboration. The IDF should throw away the keys and let him rot in his cell forever.

      Reply to Comment
      • Baladi Akka 1948

        Lewis The Fool, you better tell the Israeli authorities, they claim he’s a member of the PFLP, a Marxist organization, founded by a Christian Palestinian.
        Or maybe by “this clown”, you’re talking about yourself.

        Reply to Comment
        • Lewis from Afula

          PFLP or Hamas?
          What’s the difference?
          This one butchers Israelis, that one butchers Israelis.
          In either case, bury the drek in a cemetery

          Reply to Comment
          • carmen

            Hamas was legitimized/delivered by the zionist state to overthrow Arafat and PLO. Then won the democratic elections in Gaza. zionist generals and others have been pleading with Nutanyahoooo to talk with hamas.


            With folks like you, I don’t know, maybe its the shallow gene pool here, but you regularly display a breathtaking amount of ignorance and prejudice.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            It’s more than ignorance and prejudice. It’s ice cold Leibowitzian Judeofascism. Lewis knows what he is doing. It can’t be excused by ignorance. He can’t later say “I didn’t know.”

            Reply to Comment
    3. been there

      Abu Sakha is ‘guilty’ of being a Palestinian. Not just any Palestinian, but someone who works with handicapped children, bringing some joy into their lives. Can’t have that. Palestinian children aren’t allowed to have childhoods.

      Reply to Comment