On 10 October 2015, soldiers arrested six Gazan youths who crossed the perimeter fence into Israel during a demonstration and held them at a military base for three days. Three of them, minors, told B’Tselem they were held handcuffed out in the open, subjected to beatings and degradation, and denied food, drink and sleep. The fact that soldiers can so easily turn a military base into an exterritorial area in which they can treat minors as they please is, in part, due to a law enforcement system which has long enabled security establishment personnel to use violence against detainees, including minors, without any accountability.
Detainees & prisoners
On 9 Feb. 2016, D.W., 12, was detained at the entrance to the settlement of Carmei Tzur while carrying a concealed knife. D. signed a plea bargain and was convicted of attempted manslaughter and sentenced to imprisonment for 4½ months. She was completely alone during the trial and the prosecution was not required to present any evidence. Though exceptional, this case illustrates the manner in which the military judicial system tramples defendants’ rights. Instead of ensuring that justice is done, this system seeks to preserve the occupation regime.
According to Israel Prison Service figures, the last quarter of 2015 saw a marked rise in the number of Palestinians in Israeli custody, including administrative detainees, women and minors: at the end of 2015, 6,066 Palestinians were being held on security grounds, the highest number since July 2010. This includes 584 administrative detainees - the most since September 2008; 422 minors - the most since August 2008 at the latest, and 44 women - the most since September 2009.
Sleep deprivation; prolonged binding; verbal and sometimes physical abuse; exposure to heat and cold; poor, meager food; small, foul-smelling cells; solitary confinement; unhygienic conditions. A new report by HaMoked and B’Tselem shows these to be standard in interrogations at Israel Security Agency’s (ISA) facility at Shikma Prison. The report is based on affidavits and testimonials by 116 Palestinians interrogated there from Aug. 2013 to March 2014, including at least 14 who had been interrogated under torture by the Palestinian Authority shortly before. The ISA’s interrogation system is run with the approval of Israeli authorities, including the High Court of Justice.
In a letter sent today to the Prime Minister, Hagai Elad criticizes the HCJ ruling rejecting al-Qiq’s request to transfer to a Ramallah hospital. The HCJ justices argued that if the security establishment sought to detain al-Qiq again in the future, this would endanger soldiers’ lives. Elad notes that “This position reflects a new low in the instrumentalist approach to human beings.” The fact that the Court accepted this argument says more about the justices than about its reasonableness.
On 4 Feb. 2016 the High Court of Justice “suspended” the administrative detention of Muhammad al-Qiq, who has been on hunger strike for 72 days. This vague decision is essentially meaningless: The ruling states that his relatives may visit him in hospital in Israel, but does not oblige Israel to issue them entry permits. Administrative detention orders are subject to judicial review, but the courts usually approve the orders, rarely questioning the security establishment’s position. Even so, in view of al-Qiq’s condition, the HCJ’s evasive legal solution and the refusal to rescind the order are extreme.
Palestinian journalist Muhammad al-Qiq, 33, has been on hunger strike for 65 days (as of 28 Jan) to protest his arrest. He has been in administrative detention for over a month. According to medical literature, his life is by now in danger. Last week, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected Al-Qiq’s petition for release and refrained from determining, as yet, whether he should be released due to his medical condition. According to recent Israel Prison Service data, 527 Palestinians are currently being held in administrative detention – the highest figure since 2009.
Judge finds that authorities failed to produce sufficient evidence that Nawaj’ah endangered a land dealer. Ofer Military Court yesterday (Jan. 24, 2016) ordered the release of B'Tselem field researcher Nasser Nawaj’ah, who was arrested on the night between Tuesday and Wednesday (Jan. 20, 2016) but delayed the execution of his decision for 24 hours in order to allow the police to appeal. The police announced this afternoon it will not pursue an appeal, which clears the way for his release in the coming hours.
Contempt of Court motion rejected today (22 Jan. 2016). Habeas corpus motion was now filed to the Israeli supreme court following the state violation of court's order to release B'Tselem's field worker unconditionally. Despite the order, he was transferred to a military court in the West Bank.
Today, Jerusalem District Court Judge, Moshe Yoed Hacohen, ordered the unconditional immediate release of B'Tselem field researcher Nasser Nawaj'ah, who was arrested by the police on the night between Tuesday and Wednesday. However, the Israeli police violated the court order and told his counsel that he had been taken to the military court at Ofer Camp, which remanded him to custody until Sunday.
On 24 Nov. 2015, security forces arrested two young minors in Beit Ummar. Khatab Abu Mariyah, 12, who was arrested on the street, told B’Tselem he had been kicked and beaten. Yusef ‘Alameh, 8, was taken by force from his home despite being under the age of criminal responsibility. Security forces did not allow the parents accompany the boys, who were then held for hours and interrogated without the presence of an adult on their behalf. This disregard of the basic protections afforded to minors along with the violence used are another example of cases previously documented by B’Tselem in which the military blatantly violates the rights of minors – with legal backing.
Today (16 Sept.) media reports stated that upon being discharged from hospital, Muhammad ‘Alan – whose administrative detention order was suspended after he staged a two-month hunger strike demanding he be released – was re-detained under a new order. The authorities continue to harass ‘Alan, who had reached a life-threatening condition because of the hunger strike he held to protest the arbitrary denial of his liberty without the benefit of due process. B’Tselem once more urges Israeli authorities to release ‘Alan immediately from administrative detention.
Yesterday, 19 Aug. 2015, the Supreme Court suspended ‘Alan’s administrative detention order due to his medical condition. If it is found that the neurological damage is irreversible, the order will be voided. ‘Alan, 30, has been in administrative detention for over nine months and on hunger strike for two to protest the detention which denies his freedom without due process. Administrative detention is detention without trial: ‘Alan has not been indicted; has received no explanation for his imprisonment; and cannot even attempt to prove his innocence. On Friday he lost consciousness. On Tue. he regained it but his life still hangs in the balance. B’Tselem urges Israeli authorities to release ‘Alan immediately.
On Wed. (29 July) the Knesset voted in favor of a bill permitting to force-feed hunger strikers in cases deemed medically life-threatening. Designed to break the spirit and body of prisoners and administrative detainees who are protesting non-violently, the law tramples the Patients’ Rights Act and human dignity. The Israeli Medical Association said it would petition the HCJ against the law and instruct doctors not to implement it. The bill passed is an awful moral blot. The very thought of its implementation is horrifying. Support for such as bill by the majority of the coalition is a grim, yet accurate, expression of the legislators’ willingness to trample human rights.
Media reports state that Khader ‘Adnan was released on 12 July 2015, in accordance with the agreement reached by his legal counsel and Israel’s military prosecution, and under which ‘Adnan also ended his hunger strike on 29 June 2015. ‘Adnan, a resident of ‘Araba in the West Bank, was striking to protest being held in administrative detention for a cumulative period of nearly six years, without any charges being brought against him.
Khader ‘Adnan is on the 49th day of a hunger strike to protest his lengthy administrative detention and there is now fear for his life. Israel is advancing a bill to allow force-feeding in such cases, although the international medical community agrees that this is a prohibited violation of the right to personal autonomy, dignity, and protest. B’Tselem again calls on the government to change its administrative detention policy, which defies international law, instead of drastically punishing people protesting their unlawful detention.
A new report B’Tselem published today indicates that remand in custody is the rule rather than the exception for Palestinian defendants. Most cases, therefore, end in plea bargains. To all intents and purposes, the Israeli military court appears to be a court like any other. There are prosecutors and defense attorneys. There are rules of procedure, laws and regulations. There are judges who hand down rulings and verdicts couched in reasoned legal language. Nonetheless, this façade of propriety masks one of the most injurious apparatuses of the occupation. The rules of Israeli law, ostensibly applied to the military court, have been rendered essentially meaningless - merely serving to whitewash the flaws of the military court system.
Yesterday, soldiers briefly detained a developmentally disabled Palestinian boy, who is under the age of criminal responsibility, on suspicion that he had thrown stones. The boy, A. a-Rajbi, (full name withheld in interest of privacy) who will be 12 in a month, was detained after Palestinian children threw stones at soldiers on the main road of the Jabel Johar neighborhood in Hebron, close to the settlement of Kiryat Arba. A-Rajbi was handcuffed, blindfolded, and held on the floor of an army jeep for some 15 minutes until his father arrived and convinced the soldiers to release his son, who is mentally disabled and cannot speak.
In May 2014, B’Tselem cautioned that the number of Palestinians held by Israel in administrative detention was rising. At the end of August, after Operation Brother’s Keeper, there were some 473 administrative detainees – the highest number since April 2009. Administrative detention is detention without trial. The security establishment uses it extensively, in breach of the restrictions placed by international law. The government of Israel must release all administrative detainees or prosecute them, in accordance with due process.
This morning, 22 June 2014, human rights organizations active in the Occupied Territories sent an urgent letter to the heads of the Israeli security establishment and military commanders in the West Bank, demanding that they refrain from collectively punishing the civilian Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as part of Operation Brother’s Keeper. The letter also demanded that the more stringent restrictions imposed on the detention conditions of Palestinian prisoners be withdrawn.