A Palestinian who was supposed to be released on Monday after more than 14 years in an Israeli jail was instead kept in jail for another six months without charges.
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Bilal Kayed, 35, of the West Bank town of Asira al-Shamaliya, was arrested in 2002 at the height of the second intifada. He was convicted of a series of attacks and attempted attacks and sentenced to 14 and a half years in jail.
Kayed belongs to the military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and is considered a leader among PFLP prisoners in Israel. Since last September, he has been held in isolation at Rimon Prison.
On Monday his family came to the Tarqumiya checkpoint to welcome him home from jail, only to discover that he had been slapped with six months of administrative detention, or imprisonment without charges. The detention order was signed by the head of the army’s Central Command.
Attorney Sahar Francis of the Addameer Palestinian prisoner-support NGO told Haaretz this case “once again proves that Israel’s use of administrative detention is arbitrary and violates international law.”
She said that since Kayed has been in prison for the last 14 years and in isolation for the past several months, “It’s hard to see what basis the army could have for deeming him a danger to the public, which is the usual justification for administrative detention.”
Kayed said he plans to launch a hunger strike if his imprisonment without charges isn’t canceled. Other PFLP prisoners have said they will join him.
In the West Bank, hundreds of PFLP supporters marched in Nablus on Tuesday to protest his continued incarceration.
Clown’s detention extended
Kayed’s detention order was issued the same day that the army extended the administrative detention of a Palestinian circus clown by another six months. Mohammed Abu Sakha, 24, has been in jail without charges since December, and his case has drawn considerable international attention.
The Shin Bet security service said Abu Sakha is active in the PFLP and constitutes a danger to the public. His lawyers plan to challenge his continued imprisonment in court, starting at a military court hearing on June 19.
Palestinian organizations say there has been a sharp rise in Israel’s use of administrative detention over the last year. Some 750 Palestinians are currently in jail without charges – the largest number since 2008 – and the Palestinian Prisoners Society says around 650 of them have been arrested since October 2015.
The IDF spokesperson said, “During his incarceration, Kayed was involved in terrorist activity of the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) that poses a danger to the state and its citizens.” The spokesperson added, “Given Kayed’s perceived danger at this time, the army commander decided to order his administrative detention for a period of half a year.”