“Highest rate in years.” Why are hundreds of Palestinians languishing in Israeli jails without charge?

A report published by the British Broadcasting Corporation stated:British Broadcasting CorporationWhile Palestinian prisoners have been released under a deal with Hamas, Israel has detained others without specific charges, pushing its detention rate to its highest level in years.

In the weeks following the Oct. 7 attack by militants from Hamas, a listed terrorist organization, the number of people in administrative detention rose to a 30-year high, reaching more than 2,800.

Administrative detention is a controversial procedure inherited from the British Mandate that allows Israel to imprison people for three to six months without charge, with detention often extending, AFP reported.

Yazan Al-Hasanat, a 17-year-old boy who was arrested at his home in Bethlehem, West Bank, was recently released and spent about five months behind prison walls.

Hasanat was placed in “administrative detention.” “They have a secret document. They won’t tell you what’s in it,” he said.

The teenager returned home because he was one of 180 Palestinian children and women released from prison by Israel in recent exchanges with Hamas, which in turn released hostages kidnapped from Israel on October 7 and move them to the Gaza Strip.

When Hassanat was released, his family were asked not to celebrate in public or speak to the media in any way, and the same instructions were given to the families of other teenagers who spoke to the BBC about their experiences.

Israel says its use of the policy is consistent with international law and is a necessary precaution in the fight against terrorism. Maurice Hirsch, who served as the West Bank’s military prosecutor general from 2013 to 2016, said: “Our country not only complies with international law, but goes well beyond it by allowing detainees to appeal and ensuring that their arrests are reviewed every six months.”

‘Rare exception’

But human rights groups say Israel’s expanded use of the procedure “is an abuse of a security law that was not designed to be so large-scale and that detainees are unable to effectively defend themselves or appeal because they are unaware of what is being done against them.” evidence.”

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“Administrative detention should be a rare exception under international law,” said Jessica Montiel, executive director of HaMoked, an Israeli human rights group that monitors Palestinian detentions.

She continued: “You should use administrative detention when there is imminent danger and there is no other way to prevent that other than arresting the person… But it is clear that Israel will not do it in this way Use it. It detains hundreds of people and thousands of people without paying.”

She believes the Israeli authorities use administrative detention to “protect themselves from scrutiny.”

Administrative detainees will receive hearings before military courts, before Israeli military judges, but the state is not required to disclose any evidence to the detainees or their lawyers.

Detainees can be sentenced to up to six months in prison, but military courts can extend six months indefinitely, meaning administrative detainees do not know how long they will spend in detention.

“What really affects you is the uncertainty,” Hasanat said, sitting in his living room. “Will you complete your six months of detention and leave? Or will you extend your detention for another year or two?”

Detainees can appeal all the way to Israel’s Supreme Court, but without access to evidence against them, they have no basis to defend themselves.

“Defending Palestinians in military courts is an almost impossible task,” said Maher Hanna, a defense lawyer based in Jerusalem.

He added: “The entire system is designed to limit Palestinians’ ability to defend themselves. It imposes severe restrictions on defense and reduces the burden of proof on prosecutors.”

“It crosses all red lines, green lines and all colors,” Yazan’s mother Sadia said of Israel’s use of this policy in the West Bank.

When 17-year-old Musa Al-Ridat was reportedly arrested in a 5 a.m. raid on his home, Israeli troops demolished the bedroom he shared with his two younger brothers and sent Shots were fired into the closet, shattering the glass. His father…

Father Muhannad Al-Ridat explained: “They took him away in just his underwear… For three days we knew nothing about him.”

On the other hand, Maurice Harish, former director of the Israeli Military Prosecutor’s Office in the West Bank, explained that “it would be wrong to draw any conclusions from the limited information available.”

He continued: “There is a clear discrepancy between the public evidence against these terrorists and what the intelligence information contains.”

He added: “We have seen the Americans use administrative detention at Guantánamo, so we know this procedure is internationally recognized and accepted.”

He added: “Now that this measure has been endorsed by the international community, why is Israel alone in blocking its use when we are dealing with the most serious terrorist threat we have ever seen?”

Other prisoners claimed they were beaten, tear-gassed, or had dogs on them, the BBC reported.

Israel’s Prison Service confirmed it had put prisons in emergency mode and “reduced living conditions for security inmates” in response to the Hamas attack.

Al-Hasanat and Al-Raidat were released early as a hostage and prisoner exchange deal prioritized women and children, but 2,873 people remain in administrative detention in Israeli prisons, according to the latest figures released by the Prison Service.

Yazan’s mother looked at her son and said, “Don’t worry, they can arrest him at any time.”

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