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Israel's broken promises to curb administrative detention

In response to Palestinian hunger strikes, Israel has made — and subsequently broken — all sorts of promises, both in individual cases and regarding the practice of administrative detention itself.

Palestinian administrative detainee Khader Adnan announced last week that he would begin a week-long hunger strike to protest the renewal of his administrative detention. Adnan made headlines in 2012 when he went on a hunger strike over his administrative detention. He was released after his health greatly deteriorated. Adnan was arrested once again last July during the IDF’s “Operation Brother’s Keeper,” which came in the wake of the kidnapping of three Israeli yeshiva students. He has been in administrative detention ever since.

Khader Adnan plays with his daughters in the West Bank village of Araba, near Jenin on his first day of freedom from incarceration in an Israeli prison, April 18, 2012. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Khader Adnan plays with his daughters in the West Bank village of Araba, near Jenin on his first day of freedom from incarceration in an Israeli prison, April 18, 2012. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The army recently extended Adnan’s detention by six months, along with dozens of other detainees who were arrested in the beginning of July. The army claims that Adnan is the spokesperson for Islamic Jihad, but hasn’t provided any evidence to support that claim, nor has it charged him with a crime. Adnan was previously convicted of belonging to a terrorist organization, served his time, and was released.

Administrative detention: Months or years without due process

The administrative detention of another Palestinian man, Ayman Tabish, was also extended once again. Tabish’s hunger strike led to his hospitalization, at which point the state promised not to extend his detention if he ended his strike. (Administrative detention orders can be issued for no more than six months at a time, after which they must either be renewed, the detainee must released or charged with a crime.) The military court of appeals did not extend his detention, and ruled that the state must uphold its promise barring new, incriminating intelligence. Should new evidence come to light, the state would be able to extend his detention.

Tabish launched a hunger strike again in 2014 for a period of three months. Once more he was hospitalized while handcuffed to his hospital bed, and once more ended his strike in exchange for an additional promise: that his detention would not last be extended past January 2015. Two weeks ago, the state reneged on its promise and extended his detention for three months. His appeal will be heard on January 21. In response, the IDF Spokesperson stated that Tabish is a member of Islamic Jihad and that his detention is necessary for maintaining the security of the region. No evidence that ties Tabish to the organization has thus far been presented, and he has not been charged with a crime.

‘Administrative detainees must have done something wrong’

Administrative detention is an extreme measure that is meant to be used sparingly and moderately. Administrative detainees are imprisoned — potentially — indefinitely despite not having been charged with a crime. They are not given so much as an opportunity to defend themselves.

Despite the state’s promise to minimize the use of such measures, which came in response to a widespread hunger strike by Palestinian administrative detainees in 2012, administrative detention has only increased — especially during last summer’s Operation Brother’s Keeper. Today there are approximately 500 administrative detainees in Israeli prisons, representing nearly 10 percent of all Palestinian “security prisoners.” A hunger strike by administrative detainees last April ended with little change.

The state has recently extended the detention of at least 33 administrative detainees, according to the Alternative Information Center. Furthermore, 26 of out of the 132 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council are currently being held in administrative detention by Israel, according to Palestinian MP Dr. Mustafa Barghouti.

This article was first published on +972’s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call. Read it in Hebrew here.

Israel admits: Administrative detention unnecessary
An interview with a former Palestinian ‘security prisoner’
Rights groups say IDF response to kidnapping is collective punishment

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    1. Jackdaw

      This reminds of the IRA hunger strikers during ‘The Troubles’.

      The IRA eventually renounced terrorism, stood down and forged a peace deal. Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic are getting along swell now.

      Food for thought.

      Reply to Comment
      • Bryan

        Indeed Jackdaw, a very appropriate comparison. The Republic army was like Hamas in that it had a political wing (the Official IRA) and a military wing (the Provisionals). Settler and IDF violence was mirrored by Orange Lodges (like the Shankhill Butchers) and ‘B’ specials. The resolution was far more complex than one side abandoning violence; it was about a powerful Civil Rights movement that bridged both sides of the dispute, an ‘intifada’ of general strikes, rent strikes, marches and demonstrations as well as Catholic leaders resolved not to collaborate in the occupation. A far-sighted British government had a genuine resolve to end the crisis and the US played a statesmanlike role as an honest broker.

        Perhaps Israel should do what the British did – to concede that the issue was exactly about self-determination (the North to remain within the UK or unite with the south depending upon the majority wishes of the local population. Perhaps the Israeli government could introduce the equivalent of the Sunningdale Agreement for power-sharing between elected representatives of the local population. The best way to end violence is to give its supporters a legitimate voice in democratic government, turning gunmen into statesmen (e.g. Begin, Shamir, Sharon, Adams, McGuinness, Mandela etc). Perhaps Israel could do what the British did – end extra-judicial killings and a shoot-to-kill policy that only inflamed the conflict. Perhaps Israel could do what the British did – acknowledge that the best way to end centuries old tribal conflicts is via pluralism and economic progress and educational opportunity.

        Reply to Comment