Administrative detention is detention without charge or trial. It depends on a secret file and confidential evidence that the detainee or his lawyer cannot access. According to Israeli military orders, the administrative detention order can be renewed unlimited times, an administrative detention warrant is issued for a maximum period of six months, renewable. Israel’s administrative detention of Palestinian detainees in its prisons is in violation of international law. Some detainees have served periods of more than 15 years, whether connected or separate, under such detention in contravention of all international laws.
Administrative detention, a decision to be held without trial by Israeli intelligence, in coordination with the military commander in the occupied West Bank, for a period of one month to six months, is confirmed on the basis of confidential security information against the detainee without any charge being brought against him. It is a punishment and a political measure that reflects the official government policy of the occupying Power by using administrative detention as collective punishment against the Palestinians.
Israel had used harsh administrative detention policies for decades in flagrant violation of the rights of Palestinian detainees, and it was violating international law by jailing Palestinian detainees inside Israel, in violation of international law, which required their detention in the occupied territories, thereby limiting the ability of residents to visit them, due to Israel’s requirements for visitors to obtain security approvals and entry permits for Israel. A number of Palestinian prisoners had repeatedly gone on hunger strike in protest against their detention without trial in order to draw the attention of the international community to the injustice and abuse of their rights and to press for their release from the prison.
International conventions and treaties
There is international consensus that international humanitarian law, namely the four Geneva Treaties of 1949 and the Hague Convention of 1907, applies to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, specifically the Fourth Geneva Convention. Articles 42 and 78 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, 1949, the powers to use administrative detention against the protected population require that there be compelling security reasons that threaten the existence of the nation and that the duration be limited to a short period of time. The right of the persons concerned to appeal and to review the decision periodically is guaranteed.
The occupying Power claims to derive its powers by using administrative detention from international humanitarian law, specifically article 78 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. However, they violate the conditions and standards imposed by international humanitarian and human rights law in a systematic and orderly manner. Several international commissions, such as the Human Rights Committee, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the United Nations Committee against Torture, have sharply criticized the occupying Power for using administrative detention in such a manner without effective judicial review and on the basis of confidential material, without limiting the period of detention, which often exceeds the duration of a year.
As a result, some of the detainees went on a hunger strike to achieve a release date and had to put their lives at risk to ensure this. In 2018, detainees boycotted military courts and procedures for eight months in protest against the negative role of the judiciary and its full complicity with the intelligence service, but unfortunately this step did not yield any success in ending the policy of detention.
These collective or individual struggles of prisoners have not received the necessary popular and official support to bring about change. However, this experience points to the need to put forward national legal, political and popular strategies to address the system of substitution colonialism in all its forms and systems.
In summary, administrative detention as exercised by the occupying Power is arbitrary, under procedures that do not guarantee fair trial, and amounts to psychological torture in cases of prolonged detention. This is a war crime and a crime against humanity, which the occupying Power must be held accountable for committing before the International Criminal Court.
Palestinian children arrest and ill-treatment by Israel
Under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Israel is a State party, arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child must be used only as a last resort and for the shortest appropriate time. However, the Israeli army sues hundreds of Palestinian children in military courts for minors each year, often after they are caught in night raids, subjected to systematic ill-treatment, including blindfolding, threats, and cruel interrogations without their lawyers or families, solitary confinement and, in some cases and physical violence. Approximately 250 Palestinian children are currently in Israeli prisons and detention centers, according to local human rights organizations in Palestine. The crimes for which children are accused usually consist of throwing stones at the occupying army. While Palestinian children aged 16 to 17 are treated by Israeli military courts as adults, Israeli children living in Israel or in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank are treated as children even though they are 18 years old.
Detainees hunger strike in response to administrative detention
According to the Palestinian Prisoners Club, Israel is isolating prisoners on hunger strike, at a time when hundreds of administrative detainees have waved in steps that may amount to a mass hunger strike. Dozens of Palestinian activists have organized a stand of solidarity with prisoners on hunger strike; protesting against administrative detention in Israeli prisons, during which they announced a global campaign to demand an end to this type of detention.