Activists demonstrating against administrative detention encounter racist discrimination by Tel Aviv police

A protest in front of the Shin Bet's headquarters in Tel Aviv, calling for an end to administrative detention (ActiveStills)

Israelis Against Apartheid 

Mondoweiss  /  April 18, 2022

“What happened was an excellent illustration of the reason why we held this demonstration. If you are a Palestinian, you have no security anywhere, not even in your home. It is Apartheid!”

Editor’s Note: The following press release was issued by Israelis Against Apartheid. Mondoweiss occasionally publishes press releases and statements from organizations in an effort to draw attention to overlooked issues.

A student was detained at yesterday’s demonstration in front of the General Security Services headquarters in Tel Aviv. The location of these headquarters had never been officially published, but it is in fact quite well known – in close vicinity to the campus of Tel Aviv University.  The gathered activists protested against the widespread use of Administrative Detention without trial against West Bank Palestinians. Dozens of Israelis who participated in the demonstration have declared that if detained they would boycott court proceedings, in solidarity with the Palestinian administrative detainees who have been boycotting Israeli courts since January this year.

Although dozens of Jewish Israelis participated in the protest, and five of them blocked the road – an act which usually leads to being arrested – the only participant to be detained was Rami Salman, a Palestinian student who passed by the scene. An Israeli citizen like all other demonstrators, he was singled out by the police – grabbed,  severely beaten and taken off to detention when trying to return to his apartment nearby.

On the following morning, he was brought to court. The police asked for him to be remanded in custody, accusing him of assaulting police and even of threatening to murder them. But a video made by a fellow activist proved the police wrong, and the judge ordered Salman released, setting a bail of a thousand Shekels (about 330 Dollars) and ordering him to take part in no political demonstrations in the coming two weeks. 

One of the organizers noted that, “What happened was an excellent illustration of the reason why we held this demonstration. If you are a Palestinian, you have no security anywhere, not even in your home. It is Apartheid!”

Last Friday, Gil Hamershlag, an Israeli activist, was detained at the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem, while protesting the ongoing evictions of its inhabitants in favor of Israeli settlers. As a signatory of the declaration of solidarity with the administrative detainees, he has refused to cooperate with the police and the courts – resulting in his being denied bail and remaining in custody since Friday. He will be brought for the third time before a judge this Tuesday, where he will again refuse to cooperate with the court or take part in judicial proceedings.

There are currently about 500 administrative detainees held by the Israeli authorities without being charged with any specific act. In 2021 there was a significant increase in administrative detentions.  Among the detainees there is a significant number of journalists, students, and political activists – giving the clear impression that they were targeted due to political acts rather than to any involvement in armed activity. Due to the large number of arbitrary detentions, the detainees decided to boycott the Israeli courts and refuse to take part in any judicial proceedings.

The statement by the Israeli activists reads: “We, the undersigned, citizens and residents of Israel, hereby declare that in solidarity with the Palestinian administrative prisoners’ strike, we will refuse to cooperate with the Israeli courts in any event in which the authorities will arrest or charge us for resisting the occupation and Apartheid. The strike of administrative prisoners who refuse to cooperate with the Israeli military courts is intended to bring to light the simple fact that the courts serve as a rubber stamp for illegal arrests and are absent even from the appearance of a fair trial. Administrative arrests are another tool of the occupation, a tool that the military courts – also part of the occupation mechanism – use regularly. In solidarity with the striking prisoners, and as long as their strike continues, we will refuse to appear, accept conditions or cooperate with the Israeli courts in any way. We call on the citizens of Israel to join us in calling for an immediate cessation of the wholesale use of administrative detentions”.

The demonstration was organized as part of Israeli Apartheid Week, and on the occasion of Palestinian Prisoner’s Day. Demonstrators called for an end to the wholesale detention of Palestinians and for the immediate release of Amal Nakhleh, a severely ill boy who has been in administrative detention for more than a year already.

Israelis Against Apartheid – we, Jewish Israelis, oppose the actions of the Israeli government and hereby declare our commitment to act against them