Israel Releases Arab Held 11 Months Without Charge After Failing to Indict Him

Court had set Thursday as deadline to justify holidng Muhammad Ibrahim, an Israeli citizen

Mohammed Khaled Ibrahim
Mohammed Khaled Ibrahim

Israel released an Israeli Arab administrative detainee on Thursday after state prosecutors decided not to press charges against him.

Mohammed Khaled Ibrahim, an Israeli citizen, had spent 11 months in jail without ever being charged. Haaretz first reported Ibrahim’s story four months ago.

Ibrahim, a computer technician and resident of the Western Galilee village of Kabul, was investigated last summer for a month. Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman signed an order on June 6 to place him under administrative detention and to put him behind bars for 6 months. Lieberman also signed two three-month extensions. Ibrahim was set free on Thursday because the Haifa District court ruled last month that he should be released if the state didn’t indict him by April 20, which it failed to do.

“Freedom has no price,” said Ibrahim while leaving the Megiddo Prison, outside which his family and dozens of neighbors, acquaintances and supporters, among them Sheik Ra’ad Salah, the head of the outlawed Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement. Ibrahim said that he knew he had not committed any crime and that his arrest was simply an attempt at intimidating him.

As an Israeli citizen, Ibrahim’s administrative detention is a very exceptional move. Israeli Arab citizens have not been put in administrative detention for decades, although some East Jerusalem residents have.

“I am known as a religious man and as someone who supports maintaining a presence at the Al-Aqsa Mosque,” he said, referring to the Jerusalem holy site. “The whole investigation focused on this issue, and I made it clear that I didn’t commit any crime and I am at peace with my worldview.” Ibrahim stressed that he supports the hunger striking Palestinian prisoners, and said he thought it important that the issue remain at the top of the public agenda.

Ibrahim’s family waged a campaign for months among Israeli Arabs with the help of a locally established popular committee to secure his release. Attorney Omar Khamaisi of the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, which helped the Ibrahim family during his detention, said that Ibrahim’s release after 11 months without trial or indictment proves once again that the arrest was arbitrary, and that there was no real justified reason for the arrest. He stressed that the claim that Ibrahim constitutes a threat to state security is unfounded.

“The time has come to stop this policy of administrative arrests,” he said. “If the authorities want to engage in enforcement, then things need to be handled transparently, and the arrestee and his lawyers should be able to fight the claims in court.” He added prisoners should not be held “based on classified material that no one knows how reliable it is.”