An Israeli human rights organization has stated that during 2011, the number of Palestinian administrative detainees held by the Israel authorities increased sharply.
B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, noted that according to figures received from the Israel Prison Service, the number of Palestinian administrative detainees being held in Israel increased from 219 in January 2011, to 307 in December. In a press release published on its website, B’Tselem also noted that, “At the end of 2011, Israel was holding one minor in administrative detention.”
“Twenty-nine per cent of the detainees had been held for six months to one year; another 24 per cent from one to two years. Seventeen Palestinians had been in administrative detention continuously for two to four and a half years, and one man has been held for over five years.”
The organization stated that 2011, “marks the first time since 2008 that there was an increase in the number of administrative detainees after the number had fallen from 813 in January 2008, to 204 in December 2010.”
“Administrative detention is detention without trial, intended to prevent a person from committing an act that is liable to endanger public safety. … [Un]like a criminal proceeding, administrative detention is not intended to punish a person for an offense already committed, but to prevent a future danger. The manner in which Israel uses administrative detention is patently illegal. Administrative detainees are not told the reason for their detention or the specific allegations against them. Although detainees are brought before a judge to approve the detention order, most of the material submitted by the prosecution is classified and not shown to the detainee or his attorney. Since the detainees do not know the evidence against them, they are unable to refute it,” B’Tselem further stated.
The organization’s website also pointed out that the detainees also do not know when they will be released, although each detention order is specified for a year and a half maximum, but detention orders can be renewed indefinitely.
“Over 60% had their detention extended at least once beyond the first detention order. Administrative detention violates the right to liberty and the right to due process, since the detainee is incarcerated for a prolonged period on the basis of secret evidence, without charge or trial.”
The organization noted that over the years, Israel has held thousands of Palestinians in administrative detention for periods ranging from a few months to several years. There were times during the second intifada that Israel held over a thousand Palestinians in administrative detention. “Under international law, it is permissible to administratively detain a person only in exceptional cases, to prevent a grave danger that cannot be prevented through less harmful means. Israel’s use of administrative detention blatantly breaches these rules.” It called on the Israeli army to release all the administrative detainees or prosecute them.