Israel imprisons over 1,000 Palestinians without charge or trial

Tamara Nassar

The Electronic Intifada  /  April 5, 2023

Israeli prison authorities are holding more Palestinians without charge or trial simultaneously than they have in 20 years.

Known as administrative detention, the practice is a direct continuation of British colonial rule.

Administrative detention orders are typically issued for six-month periods, but can be renewed indefinitely. Under such orders, detainees are held without charge or trial and they and their attorneys are unable to see evidence against them.

Israel currently imprisons over 1,000 Palestinians under such orders, including children and former prisoners, according to figures documented by HaMoked, an organization that campaigns against Israel’s abuses of Palestinians living under occupation.

The last time Israel was holding that many Palestinians without charge or trial was during the Second Intifada in 2003.

Israel is imprisoning four Jewish Israelis under administrative detention, the highest number since 1994.

One Palestinian currently held under such orders is Khader Adnan. In protest of the Israeli order, he has refused food for 60 days since he was arrested in February.

Adnan is a veteran hunger striker who has taken part in several long-term hunger strikes in protest of similar orders over the years. Those include 66 days in 201255 days in 2015 and 58 days in 2018.

The father of nine is experiencing severe health deterioration and has prepared his will in the event of his death.

From the occupied West Bank village of Arraba near Jenin, Adnan spent some eight years in Israeli detention, the majority of which he was held without charge or trial.

Israeli occupation forces target Adnan for being a known activist with affiliations to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad resistance group.

Torture of prisoners

Meanwhile, two Palestinian human rights organizations delivered last month an oral intervention to the Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council regarding Israel’s torturous, cruel and degrading treatment of Palestinian prisoners.

Israel’s use of torture against Palestinian detainees, and the attempt by Israeli state institutions to hide these crimes, were highlighted by Al-Haq and Addameer, leading Palestinian human rights groups.

The intervention also emphasized the psychological distress and helplessness that Palestinians who are held without charge or trial and without an end in sight must endure.

Medical staff in Israeli prisons provide a green light to Palestinian detainees for interrogation, ignoring the evidence of torture on their bodies, the groups emphasized.

The intervention highlighted the Israeli government’s “limitations on medical treatment” – which prisoners rights groups cited as the cause of the deaths of prisoners over the years.

A group of Palestinian human rights groups is calling for the release of a political activist and intellectual who was diagnosed with a bone marrow cancer last year.

Israel has imprisoned Walid Daqqa for 37 years. He is among the 23 Palestinians who have been held by Israel since before the Oslo Accords were signed in the 1990s.

Doctors have insinuated that Israeli prison authorities’ deliberate medical neglect is worsening Daqqa’s health.

When Daqqa experienced a stroke recently, Israeli prison authorities denied him an emergency hospital transfer. He was only hospitalized 11 days after he experienced the stroke. The groups are calling for Daqqa’s immediate release.

Four-minute showers

Israeli ultra-far-right police minister Itamar Ben-Gvir has taken brutal measures against Palestinian prisoners since taking office.

Ben-Gvir demanded that Israeli prison authorities limit the time that certain Palestinian prisoners are allowed to use the shower.

Palestinian political prisoners – so-called security prisoners – will only be allowed to take showers for four minutes at a time in at least two wings of an Israeli prison in the south.

As part of Israeli prison authorities’ punitive measures against Palestinian detainees, they are serving them stale and frozen bread, conducting frequent raids and searches of cells and increasing the use of solitary confinement.

Israeli lawmakers advanced a bill in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, last month that would allow the execution of Palestinians who kill Israelis.

The bill would not apply to Israelis who kill Palestinians, however, underscoring the openly racist and apartheid nature of Israel’s rule over the Palestinian people.

If passed into law, the government-backed bill would permit courts to put Palestinians who killed Israelis to death if they did so out of so-called nationalistic motivations.

Tamara Nassar is an assistant editor at The Electronic Intifada