Court Rejects Petition by Palestinian Hunger Strikers Against Detention

Justices voice unease over Israel's administrative detention policy and the fact that materials often withheld from the detainees' lawyers.

The High Court of Justice on Monday denied the petition of two hunger-striking Palestinians against their administrative detention, which it conceded must be used sparingly.

"Administrative detention is an aberration in the judicial field, and thus, no one can deny, must be used as little as possible," the court said.

Palestinian protest Ramallah

The justices voiced unease over Israel's administrative detention policy and the fact that some material, often cited as the cause for detention, is withheld from the detainees' lawyers.

Hundreds of Palestinians in Israeli jails have begun hunger strikes in recent months to protest imprisonments they claim are illegal.

Two inmates who have been on hunger strike for more than two months, Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahla, asked the High Court to free them from their months-long administrative detention.

The petitioners' attorneys said the two men had been detained without a proper investigation. The attorneys, Juad Bulus and Jamil Khatib, said they were not allowed to see classified material that the state had cited as grounds for imprisonment.

Poor health

The attorneys also spoke of the prisoners' poor health, saying they posed no threat to Israel's security.

Justices Elyakim Rubinstein, Noam Sohlberg and Yoram Danzinger denied the petition. While "administrative detention causes unease in any judge, on occasion it is an absolute necessity," they said in a statement.

They added, however, that the state should consider allowing a jurist with security clearance to study information on the inmates' imprisonment.

Such a move "could bring the court's proceedings closer to [preserving] the detainees' rights without harming security," they said.

Last week, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch reportedly suggested that Israel should reduce its use of administrative detention against Palestinian suspects.