Creating new perspectives since 2009

On their day of release, Israel places Palestinian prisoners in administrative detention

October 11, 2019 at 11:26 am

Israeli forces brutally arrest a Palestinian man in Jerusalem on 1 October 2019 [Faiz Abu Rmeleh/Anadolu Agency]

Israeli occupation authorities are placing Palestinian prisoners in administrative detention on the last day of their formal sentence, reported human rights group B’Tselem.

As the group explains in their latest briefing, Israeli occupation authorities use two procedures to imprison Palestinians from the West Bank: “criminal and administrative”.

In the former, a Palestinian is indicted in a military court based on “usually scant” evidence – often limited to a “confession” extracted under duress or torture. A common outcome is a plea deal between prosecution and defence, approved by the military judge.

Meanwhile, “in the administrative track”, the senior Israeli military commander for the West Bank will sign an arrest order “based on evidence that is kept from the detainee, as are the grounds for the arrest”. Without the evidence ever being revealed, the detainee has “no chance to refute it”.

READ: The Palestinians resisting Israel’s threats of detention and death 

At the end of August 2019, B’Tselem reported, “Israel was holding 413 Palestinian residents of the West Bank in administrative detention”.

The “major difference” between the two forms of detention “is the date of release”, the human rights group explained.

Whereas “in the criminal track, defendants are given a finite sentence to serve, after which they can expect to leave”, administrative detention “can be extended indefinitely – even on the very day of the scheduled release – leaving detainees in a state of uncertainty”.

Furthermore, in cases researched and documented in B’Tselem’s new briefing, the Israeli military “erased this one difference by imposing administrative detention on prisoners who had just finished serving the sentences imposed on them by the military court”.

READ: The political isolation of Palestinian prisoners

“The prisoners were notified of their transfer to administrative detention just prior to their release, when they were already preparing to reunite with their families,” B’Tselem stated.

“The result is unbearable uncertainty and stress for the prisoners and their families, which projects on other prisoners who also fear they will not be released when they finish serving their terms.”

B’Tselem added that “the military courts cooperate with this conduct”, confirming “the role of the military courts as one of the occupation’s most destructive mechanisms, which is yet another long arm of Israel’s control over the Palestinians.”