Friends of Al-Aqsa has launched a campaign for the immediate release of 500 Palestinian prisoners held under “administrative detention” in different Israeli jails.
Supporters and campaigners on Thursday night gathered outside the Israeli embassy in London to call on Israel to comply with international law and end its practice of administrative detention.
Administrative detention is the arrest of Palestinians without charge or trial for an indefinite period, on the grounds that they might commit an offence in the future. This is illegal under international law as it constitutes collective punishment, violating Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Israel has used administrative detention to imprison thousands of Palestinians from the Occupied Territories since 1967, detaining them under military law for open-ended terms based on secret evidence. With no charges and no way to defend against them, lawyers can only petition the courts for their clients’ release.
Friends of Al-Aqsa said: “The number of Palestinians in administrative detention has never fallen below 100. Like all Palestinian prisoners, administrative detainees face appalling prison conditions. They are regularly subjected to arbitrary beatings, solitary confinement, limited family visits and medical negligence.”
A few days ago, Hisham Abu Hawash, a 40-year-old father of five and a construction worker in the West Bank, ended his 141 day hunger strike after his lawyer, Jawad Boulos, said that he will be released on February 26 without any charges. Hawash was imprisoned by Israeli authorities without any charges for more than four years.
Israel accuses him of belonging to Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which they consider a terrorist group. Hawash denies this.
FOA further said: “Right now, there are 500 more Palestinians being held without charge or trial in Israeli prisons. Many of these are human rights activists and university students, and some have been held without charge or trial for years.”
The group’s latest campaign calls for the immediate release of 500 administrative detainees, including four minors suffering unfair treatment and appalling conditions in Israeli prisons.
The UNHRC had earlier said: “Israel also regularly incarcerates its Palestinian administrative detainees in Israeli prisons, a violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which says protected people under occupation should be detained in the occupied territory.”
Israel says courts are required to review every detention order and in these proceedings detainees are represented by counsel, they may appeal the judge’s decision, and the hearings follow procedural and evidentiary rules.