Three Israeli Arabs Sent to Six Months in Jail Without Trial

Jack Khoury
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Jack Khoury

Three young men, residents of the Wadi Ara area in northern Israel, have been under administrative detention for the past 10 days.

The three were arrested in their homes on July 23, ten days after three residents of the Wadi Ara town of Umm al-Fahm killed two policemen near the Al-Aqsa Mosque and were themselves shot dead in the attack. The three residents were held for questioning for four days, at which point Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman signed an administrative order detaining them for six months. The three are not residents of Umm al-Fahm and are not known to have been directly or indirectly involved in the July 23 attack.

It was only in the past few days that their families were even aware that the three were under administrative detention. Attorney Omar Khamaisi of the Al-Mezan legal center, who is representing two of the detainees, told Haaretz that this was an unusual detention. “At least from what we’ve heard from them to date, there is no meat in this case and the security forces haven’t confronted them with any concrete suspicions. On the other hand, we as defense attorneys haven’t been exposed to any details or investigative material that will allow us to defend our clients because everything is classified.”

According to Khamaisi, there will be a hearing in Haifa District Court next Monday on a request to confirm the detention order. “We plan to attack the order with the few details we have and ask the court to cancel it or at least to reduce the term of the detention,” he said.

The families of the three say they were not activists or members in any political organization or party, or any religious organization, although they live religious lives.

Administrative detention orders against Israeli Arab citizens are rare, which is why the arrest of the three following the attack in Jerusalem has raised concerns in the Arab community that this could be a precedent that will be applied against Arab political activists.

Last year a 20-year-old computer technician, Mohammed Khaled Ibrahim, from the village of Kabul in northern Israel, was arrested and held in administrative detention for nearly seven months. He was freed only after a court ordered his release if he wasn’t going to be charged.

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