Palestinian prisoners have commenced a boycott of Israeli courts

The 17 year-old Palestinian prisoner Amal Nakhleh from Jalazun refugee camp, near Ramallah (Abbas Momani - AFP)

Asa Winstanley

Middle East Monitor  /  January 30, 2022

The latest episode of European Union hypocrisy over Palestine came to light this week with the case of Amal Nakhleh.

Nakhleh is a Palestinian teen who was still a child – 17 years of age – when he was first arrested in January of last year.

Like hundreds of other Palestinians, Nakleh has been cast into Israeli dungeons without charge or trial. This is a practice which Israel whitewashes as “administrative detention.” In fact, it is the most arbitrary form of indefinite military internment possible, with no due process and no recourse.

The EU (as well as the government of Ireland) has – unusually – called for Nakleh’s release. But they have only done so because Nakleh has an autoimmune disease which prevents him from being vaccinated against Covid-19 – which he has now contracted in Israeli prison, seriously threatening his health.

In other words, the EU has only called for his release because they are able to portray him as the exception to the rule. But in fact, all Palestinian prisoners held by Israel are by definition political prisoners.

The administrative detainees are just the most egregious examples. They are held on the basis of supposed “secret evidence” which the Shin Bet – Israel’s secret police force – claims to have in its possession. They have no charges, no trials and their detention orders can be indefinitely renewed.

Even when – after much struggle, usually including grueling hunger strikes – “administrative detainees” manage to get released from Israeli dungeons, Israeli army thugs have a frequent habit of re-arresting the prisoners soon after – if not immediately after.

Israel, supposedly “the only democracy in the Middle East” is in fact the only country in the world that routinely subjects children to military tribunals. And it does so on a purely racist basis – only to Palestinian children, and never to Jewish children.

The truth is that Israel is an apartheid military dictatorship and not a democracy.

For all these reasons, the Palestinian administrative detainees at the start of this month commenced a boycott of Israel’s military courts system.

It’s a new tactic, and it will be interesting to see how successful it will be. According to Addameer, the Palestinian human rights group which focuses on the prisoners, “The comprehensive boycott includes Israeli military courts at all levels, including courts of first instance, appellate courts, and the Israeli civil High Court. Accordingly, Palestinian administrative detainees refuse to participate in court procedures and hearings; their legal counsel will no longer attend or participate in the court procedures on their behalf.”

Of course, Amal Nakhleh should be immediately released. But so too should all the other Palestinian prisoners arbitrarily detained and imprisoned by Israel.

Israel is a racist apartheid state, not a democracy. Even Palestinians who are charged and received trials are subjected to the military courts system alone – which, again, is for Palestinians only and not for Jews.

The military courts are kangaroo courts with a 99.7 per cent conviction rate. This is not justice.

Free them all!

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist living in London who writes about Palestine and the Middle East