There are currently 723 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons without trial, including eleven children, Haaretz reported on Monday.
According to the Israeli newspaper, the number of prisoners held with neither charge nor trial — "administrative detention" — has risen significantly from the 671 held at the beginning of August. The current figure is the highest since 2008.
Fifty-two of the administrative detainees have been held since the Israeli offensive against the Palestinians in Gaza earlier this month and the crackdown on the Islamic Jihad movement in the occupied West Bank.
Such Palestinians are held in Israel without charge under a system of "preventive detention", explained Haaretz. "They are not brought before a court, and their lawyers are not provided with the evidence against them apart from a brief summary of the key suspicions."
Detention orders are signed by the chief of the Israel Defence Forces Central Command based on a confidential intelligence report. They are then presented to a judge who is required to approve the detention, without the detainees in attendance.
Haaretz said that the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) had provided figures to the Movement for Freedom of Information showing that, as of mid-June, 184 Palestinians, including one child, had been held in administrative detention for over a year.
"Palestinian captives are held for lengthy periods without being charged, tried, or convicted, which is in sheer violation of human rights," Haaretz pointed out. "Advocacy groups describe Israel's use of the detention as a 'bankrupt tactic' and have long called on Israel to end its use."
The IPS, added the newspaper, "keeps Palestinian captives under deplorable conditions lacking proper hygienic standards. They have also been subjected to systematic torture, harassment and repression all through the years of Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories."