Israeli Arab Held Without Trial for Two Months Appeals Detention to Top Court

The Nazareth resident's legal team points to a history of mental illness in a bid to overturn the administrative detention, which was issued after he threatened to carry out a terrorist attack

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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A demonstration in Nazareth in May.
A demonstration in Nazareth in May, during the military confrontation between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.Credit: Rami Shllush
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

An Arab resident of Nazareth appealed Israel's top court against his detention without trial on Monday, with his lawyers citing a history of mental illness as the reason behind his threat to commit a terrorist attack.

The 27-year-old man, whose identity is subject to a gag order, has been held in administrative detention since May. 

On Sunday, the state agreed to allow the man to undergo a psychiatric examination, after his legal team's appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court ointed to a history of hospitalization at psychiatric institutions.

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However, the examination is scheduled for Tuesday, the day of the hearing, and will take up to a week to be issued, so the state has asked the court to postpone the hearing until the report is received. The justices have not yet ruled on the request.

According to Supreme Court files, the detention order was issued by the Nazareth District Court, and he was arrested on May 17, during the period of civil unrest in the country coinciding with the military confrontation between Israel and Hamas. 

The man was questioned by the Shin Bet security service and on May 31, Defense Minister Benny Gantz signed off on a four-month administrative detention order, which was approved on June 21 by Nazareth District Court Judge Avraham Avraham.

In its appeal to the Supreme Court on behalf of the prisoner, the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel stated that he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and was under the treatment of a psychiatrist. In May 2018, he was hospitalized at the Be’er Ya’akov Mental Health Center, and in October 2020 at the Sha’ar Menashe Mental Health Center at the request of the psychiatrist who was treating him, his lawyers said.

Records from October 2020 from the psychiatrist and the staff at Sha’ar Menashe stated that he was suffering from schizophrenia and was unstable and in the past had a paranoid psychosis. Documentation of his condition was presented to the Nazareth District Court, but Judge Avraham approved the administrative detention based on threats that the man made under interrogation to carry out a terrorist attack, in addition to posts made on Facebook.

Defense Minister Benny GantzCredit: Ohad Zwigenberg

The psychiatrist’s opinion would appear to acknowledge that the basic steps necessary to justify such far-fetched claims regarding the prisoner and his intentions were not carried out, his lawyer Sawsan Zaher of Adalah told Haaretz. Detaining the suspect without a psychiatrist's evaluation is proof of improper conduct, his lawyer claimed.

In addition to the Nazareth man, 14 others are currently in detention without trial in Israel. Two are Arab Israelis and the others are residents of East Jerusalem who are not Israeli citizens.

At the end of June, Defense Minister Gantz signed an administrative detention order against 28-year-old Lod resident Eid Abdel Latif Hasuna, whose period of detention was reduced and now ends on September 10 instead of October 20. Hasuna is suspected of shooting at a group of Jewish students from a premilitary academy in the Ramat Eshkol neighborhood of Lod. He allegedly shot at them near the academy in revenge for the death of Musa Hasuna, an Arab Lod resident, a few days earlier. A medic was lightly wounded in the shooting, which was filmed on a cellphone.

Last month, the Haifa District Court approved an administrative detention order against former security prisoner Dafar Jabareen of Umm al-Fahm. He was arrested in connection with riots at the entrance to the northern Israeli town. The order was issued on June 8 and remains in effect through October 7.

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