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Wednesday July 06, 2022

Detained

February 25, 2022

Under the banner, ‘Our decision is freedom … no to administrative detention,’ five hundred Palestinian administrative detainees collectively declared their boycott of Israeli military courts at the beginning of January 2022. The boycott was also taken up by their legal counsel who will no longer attend or participate in court procedures on their behalf. This courageous stance was provoked by the drastic increase of Israeli administrative detention orders against Palestinians which escalated during and after the Palestinian Unity Uprising/Intifada of April 2021. During 2021, the Israeli military commander in the West Bank region issued 1595 administrative detention orders, including the renewal of previous orders and issuing new ones.

According to Milena Ansari, International Advocacy Officer of Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, “In military courts, where the judges and the prosecutors are all military officers and where the laws adopted are Israeli military orders, there is no hope of any kind of justice for Palestinians. Hence their boycott of military courts and refusal to participate in its procedures highlights the lack of trust in any judicial process”.

Administrative detention is an official Israeli policy, codified into law, whereby Palestinians can be arrested without a charge for so-called ‘security reasons’. Detainees are held without trial and without being told about the evidence against them. In most cases, they are simply informed that there is ‘secret evidence’ which neither they nor their lawyer can see. They are often interrogated and tortured after arrest. There is no clear or defined sentence, and all administrative detention orders are renewable indefinitely every six months. The periodic review of administrative detention orders takes place at closed hearings that do not allow the public or family members of the detainee to be present. Often an administrative detainee is released and on their way home when an order renewing the detention is issued and they are cruelly returned to prison.

United Nations experts and Special Rapporteurs have repeatedly issued statements, most recently on 21 October 2021, strongly condemning Israeli practices of administrative detention which are in clear violation of international law. However, the Israeli apartheid state has consistently ignored these denunciations. Political support and astronomical funding from the US government gives Israel license to continue these practices regardless of international denunciations.

According to a statement from the detainees regarding their decision to boycott, administrative detention is “an arbitrary and oppressive medium to humiliate and torture Palestinian detainees and their families, undermine their morale, break their will, and disrupt legitimate Palestinian social and political activities under international law”. They describe the military courts as a “barbaric, racist tool that has consumed hundreds of years from the lives of our people”.

Over the years, administrative detainees have employed various forms of resistance to bring about change. Hunger strikes have been one of the most common methods undertaken at great risk to the health and lives of the detainees. In 2021, sixty Palestinian detainees undertook hunger strikes, but nothing has altered the current situation.

Excerpted: ‘No To Preventive Detention: From Palestine, to Guantanamo, to US Jails!’

Courtesy: Counterpunch.org

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