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News > World

Palestinians Held Without Charges Boycott Israeli Courts

  • Israeli soldiers detain a Palestinian during a protest near the West Bank city of Nablus Dec. 15, 2017.

    Israeli soldiers detain a Palestinian during a protest near the West Bank city of Nablus Dec. 15, 2017. | Photo: Reuters

Published 15 February 2018

The prisoners are protesting Israel’s “administrative detention” policy which allows authorities to keep them incarcerated indefinitely without charges.

Palestinian prisoners who are in Israeli prisons without charges or trial have launched Tuesday a boycott against Israeli military courts that confirms and renews their indefinite so-called administrative detentions.

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“We declare a comprehensive and categorical boycott of all administrative detention courts, which seek to beautify the ugly face of [Israel’s] occupation,” Palestinian administrative detainees said in a statement issued collectively by 450 prisoners. 

Urging the Palestinian public to support the move, detainees warned that “dozens” of Palestinians had remained in custody for over 14 years, without trial or charge, under the administrative detention policy.

“Administrative detention is the sword hanging over the necks of all Palestinians,” the statement read. “This [the Israeli] judicial system faithfully serves the policies of the Israeli occupation and its intelligence services using the pretext of ‘secret evidence’.”

Israel’s administrative detention law allows authorities to imprison suspects for renewable six-month periods without trial or charge while investigators “gather evidence."

According to Palestinian statistics, some 6,400 Palestinians are currently being held in Israeli prisons, including roughly 500 in administrative detention.

Lawyers and legal activists representing and supporting the prisoners elaborated on the boycott. Sahar Francis, director of Addameer, a Ramallah-based prisoners' rights group, told Al-Jazeera there were three stages to their protest.

"The first is to boycott the reaffirmation hearings, which endorse detention based on an undisclosed national security threat," Francis told the Qatar-based media organization Tuesday.

"Then, they will boycott the appeals court, which is a military court, but there for lawyers to appeal the reaffirmation decisions."

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The final part of their boycott, according to her, is to refuse to appeal at the Israeli constitutional court. Lawyers have also agreed not to show up to the hearings. The move has the support of the Palestinian Liberation Organization Council as well as the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners' Affairs.

Over the past few years the Israeli illegal policy, which has been repeatedly criticized by international human rights organizations, came under fire after several Palestinian prisoners went on a hunger strike to demand an end to their administrative detention with release or charges.

Several of those prisoners had to be hospitalized as they continued their strikes for months before Israel agreed to release them.

But then instead of ending the policy, the Israeli government approved a law that allows authorities to force-feed prisoners who go on hunger strikes to avoid “public embarrassment”. Israel’s Medical Association had slammed that law as “torture” and filed a lawsuit against it in the country’s top court, which later ruled in favor of the government.

The news comes amid renewed unrest in the West Bank and Gaza, in which Israel is increasingly arresting Palestinians without charges as they participate in protests and clashes over the December U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

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