A largely neglected instrument of legal Israeli repression used against the Palestinian people is that of administrative detention. Thousands of men, as well as women and children, are held indefinitely and under horrendous conditions in detention centres dotted across the Occupied Territories without charge, access to a fair trial or even having been accused of committing a crime. This renders administrative detainees exceptions to the rules that would govern convicts, placing them outside the normal legal system and procedures and beyond the remit of the Red Cross. This not only means that the order cannot be challenged, but it also means that detainees are not provided with adequate living conditions, medical care, food, clothing or access to their families.
The immense amount of power wielded by the military commanders able to issue administrative detention orders arbitrarily, means it has become a lethal tool of political retribution against the resistance. Moreover, it is used as a means of subjugating the people as a whole and of damaging the very fabric of Palestinian society. Israel’s application of its administrative detention laws clearly contravenes both international and humanitarian law and, according to certain interpretations, constitutes a war crime.