Haaretz Editorial || Draconian arrests of Palestinians
There is no measure of justice or reason in jailing a man for years because he visited an adjacent neighborhood or even assumed political activity.
Fourteen Palestinians freed in the Gilad Shalit deal were arrested by the IDF and Shin Bet security service. Amira Hass reported on Sunday in Haaretz that five of them might serve from 16 to 28 years in prison due to secret or negligible offenses they are accused of committing after their release. This revolving door system is not only inhuman in itself, it also undermines the agreements Israel signed and will make future deals much harder to achieve.
The arrest of the 14 Palestinians was possible due to the confidential 2009 changes in the military law, decree 1651, which were introduced as the negotiations were being held. These changes allow the IDF and Shin Bet to re-arrest any person released before the end of his original term, following offenses that do not involve terrorist actions, such as traffic violations, participating in illegal demonstrations or illegal entry to Israel − and that based on confidential evidence.
This can lead to imprisonment for decades. The military committee that considers the violation of release conditions is staffed by IDF officers.
Samer Issawi was re-arrested because it was claimed he left Jerusalem after his release and drove to the adjacent A-Ram neighborhood, thus violating his release conditions. Ibrahim Abu Hajla, according to the IDF, returned to his civilian political activity with the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, an organization that is part of the PLO, which signed the Oslo Accords with Israel. The evidence concerning the other arrested Palestinians remains secret.
Issawi has been on a hunger strike for a total of more than 200 days now, and this strike as well as the hunger strike of another Shalit deal released prisoner, and these repeat arrests are justly arousing public rage among the Palestinians.
Even if the repeat arrests of the 14 are legal, according to military decrees, they are draconian, and reek of cruelty and abuse. There is no measure of justice or reason in jailing a man for years because he visited an adjacent neighborhood or even assumed political activity. If none of the 14 Palestinians committed any terrorist activities Israel should free them immediately.