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From the field

Do Not Continue Administrative Detention

Human Rights Organizations in Urgent Petition to the Defense Minister: Do Not Continue Administrative Detention of Individuals Held Over Four Years Without Trial

In the next several days, the security forces will determine their fate.

Four Israeli human rights organizations today sent an urgent appeal to Israeli Defence Minister, Yitzhak Mordechai, urging him to ensure that new administrative detention orders are not issued against Ahmad Qattamash and Khaled Deleisheh. The letter was signed by the country's leading human rights organizations: The Association for Civil Rights in Israel; B'Tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories; HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual; and Physicians for Human Rights - Israel.

"In the spirit of the approaching holiday of Passover, the holiday of freedom," the organizations wrote, "and in order to uphold the judicial integrity and morality of Israel, we urgently request that you ensure that one of the following steps are taken: If there are allegations against these people, prosecute them, and if not, release them immediately."

Ahmad Qattamash has been held in administrative detention for four years, six months and eight days. Khaled Dalisheh has been held in administrative detention for three years, eleven months and twenty-two days. In both cases, the current administrative detention order expires on April 8. In the next several days, the security forces will decide whether to extend the administrative detention order for yet an additional period.

Israel holds some two hundred Palestinians in administrative detention. Of these detainees, eighty have been held continuously in administrative detention for more than one year; forty-five have been administratively detained for over two years, and thirteen for more than three years.

None of these detainees have been told the reason for their detention. All information concerning their case is classified and withheld from the detainees and their attorneys. They are therefore unable to refute any allegations against them. None of the detainees know when they will be released. Military commanders are empowered to detain for up to six months and to extend detentions for an unlimited number of six month periods. Detainees can therefore be held indefinitely without charge or trial.

International law, including conventions to which Israel is party, allows administrative detention only in emergency situations, for limited periods of time, and solely as a preventive measure - not as punishment. Administrative detention for years clearly does not meet these criteria. The security forces' use of administrative detention is both legally and morally unacceptable.