Judge Revokes Administrative Detention Order for Budrus Man

A military judge yesterday revoked an administrative detention order against a resident of Budrus on the grounds that it was issued due to the detainee's activity against the separation fence.

This is the third time a military judge has revoked an order issued against a resident of Budrus, near Ramallah, for acting against the fence being built in the village.

"The main pretext for issuing the administrative detention order is the detainee's activity in his village against the separation fence," ruled Judge Adrian Agassi earlier this week. "I do not find that such activity justifies holding a person in administrative custody."

Numerous Israelis and Palestinians have held a series of demonstrations against plans for the fence to run through Budrus, passing through an important olive plantation that could damage it. Due to the protests, the fence's route was moved west of the plantation, but still cuts off the village from a large part of its cultivated lands in the south.

Ahmad Awad, a 43-year-old high school teacher and father of six, was arrested on October 21 in the village and an administrative detention order - i.e. imprisonment without trial - was issued against him, upon the Shin Bet's request. The order, based on classified intelligence banned from the defendant, was extended by four months, although the Shin Bet requested only three months' detention.

Awad's attorney, Tamar Peleg, asked the judge Sunday to view the material, and he agreed. Peleg presented the court with a statement of another anti-fence activist, testifying that Awad had always objected to the use of force and advocated restraint during demonstrations. "Awad's arrest is like an attempt to kill the hope of the approach he believed in," she wrote.

The judge also wrote, "I have already ruled in previous cases that it is unacceptable that the military commander use his authority to order administrative detention merely for this sort of activity... it is clear from the intelligence material that the order was issued because of this activity."