The Israeli prison administration has been severely maltreating Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails, where Israeli prison guards inflict physical and psychological torture on them with impunity.
Palestinian detainees, therefore, resort to their sole act of resistance against the appalling treatment they endure in Israeli prisons: hunger strike.
Hunger strike has become a constant fixture of prison life for Palestinian detainees inside Israeli jails. They would rather risk death by refusing to eat than being suffering various forms of maltreatment, including being held in solitary confinement for long periods of time, humiliating strip-searches, sleep deprivation and brutal beatings
The Israeli occupation authorities are holding hundreds of Palestinians under administrative detention, denying them of their most basic rights, such as family visitation and taking official legal procedures against their detention.
What is administrative detention?
Holding Palestinians for an indefinite period of time without charges or trial based only on “classified” information that neither the detainee nor his/her lawyer can know about.
According to Israeli military orders, administrative detention can be renewable indefinitely; each administrative detention order can be issued for a renewable period of six months.
Not only do the Israeli occupation authorities incarcerate hundreds of Palestinian citizens without charges or trial, but they also renew their detention several times without the detainee knowing his release date.
In many cases, Palestinian detainees have been given administrative detention orders a few days before their release or sometimes on the same day of their release from Israeli prisons.
History of administrative detention
The Israeli occupation authorities have been increasingly using this policy since its occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in 1967.
After 1977, administrative detention orders against Palestinians dropped but they dramatically surged following the outbreak of the 1987 Frist Intifada.
In 1997, Palestinian detainees fought against administrative detention. With the outbreak of the 2000 Second Intifada, the Israeli occupation authorities had arrested thousands of Palestinians, handing the vast majority of them administrative detention orders.
Nearly 19,000 administrative detention orders were issued against Palestinians during the First Intifada (between 1987 and 1994).
During the Second Intifada, Israeli occupation military courts issued approximately 18,000 administrative detention orders against Palestinian detainees.
Human rights groups have unanimously agreed that this practice is illegal. Al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights explained that the Israeli occupation authorities continue to hold Palestinians in administrative detention under the 1945 Emergency Law, which was in effect during the British Mandate of Palestine. Under this law, the Israeli occupation authorities hold Palestinians indefinitely without charge or trial.
Meanwhile, Friends of Humanity International Inc. said in a document: “Administrative detainee is deemed as a convicted suspect until proven otherwise.”
“This detention is not based on confirmed charge, clear evidence, or a specific period of time,” the international NGO added. “Rather, it is mostly based on classified allegations.”
Since 28 September 2000, the Israeli occupation authorities have issued more than 21,000 administrative detention orders against Palestinian prisoners, according to the document.
Israeli occupation intelligence services use this practice against the Palestinians whom they have no evidence proving their involvement in anti-occupation acts, the rights group pointed out.
In many cases, the Israeli occupation authorities use this policy to blackmail Palestinian detainees into confessing to some of the charges filed against them or their administrative detention would be renewed indefinitely.
Administrative detention might be extended several times; some Palestinian detainees were jailed for more than five years in Israeli prisons under this practice.
The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories (B’Tselem) said that international law allows “the occupying power to place residents of the occupied territory under administrative detention only in rare, exceptional circumstances as a last resort to prevent future danger that cannot be avoided using any other means.”
The way the Israeli occupation authorities use administrative detention “completely contradicts with the strict restrictions placed by international law regarding the use of administrative detention,” B’Tselem added.
Continuous collective punishment of Palestinians
Abdul Nasser Farwana, a Palestinian expert on prisoners’ affairs, said that the Israeli occupation has been using administrative detention as a “easy alternative to criminal trial and a means of collective punishment.”
Since 1967, the Israeli occupation authorities have issued about 54,000 administrative detention orders against Palestinians, Farwana pointed out.
Farwana added that 736 of them have been made since the start of this year.
Over the past years, Palestinian administrative detainees have gone on open-ended hunger strikes to protest their administrative detention, which is a stark violation of all international treaties and international humanitarian norms.