Israel detained 539 Palestinians last month, including 62 children and 19 women, Wafa news agency has reported. Almost 200 administrative detention orders were issued, whereby Palestinians are held indefinitely with neither charge nor trial.
According to a joint report published by the Palestinian Prisoner's Club, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, most of the detentions in March took place in Jerusalem, where 163 Palestinians were rounded up during nightly raids and home invasions, including 43 children.
Overnight raids by the Israeli army are a near-daily practice in the occupied West Bank. Israel claims that they are essential for intelligence purposes, but rights groups have slammed the practice, insisting that the goal is to oppress and intimidate the Palestinian population and increase state control. Like military checkpoints and the separation wall, insist critics, the raids are part of the DNA of the occupation state.
The report added that 4,450 Palestinians in total were being held in prison by Israel as of the end of March. Of these, 160 are children, 32 are women and 530 are administrative detainees.
Israel has escalated the use of administrative detention against the Palestinians as part of its overall war of attrition against them.