Palestinian Detainees to Boycott Israeli Courts Over Arrests Without Trial

The decision to boycott the Israeli legal system is made in protest of the broad use of administrative detention, or arrests without trial, by the defense establishment

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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A protester holds a poster showing current and recently released Palestinian hunger strikers, November.
A protester holds a poster showing current and recently released Palestinian hunger strikers, November.Credit: AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

Representatives of Palestinian prisoners in administrative detention announced on Monday that they had decided to boycott the Israeli legal system, and their lawyers will no longer appear in sessions on their matters in military courts and the Supreme Court.

Representatives of the detainees explained that the decision was made in protest of the broad use of administrative detention by the defense establishment in Israel. According to the representatives’ statement, if Israel continues to use this tool, which they say violates international law, the administrative detainees could very well declare a general hunger strike next week.

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The announcement of the decision was made at a press conference held in the Palestinian prisoner administration in Ramallah. Representatives of the administration and the lawyers for the detainees said the decision to boycott the courts would go into effect on January 1, 2022, and the prisoners’ leadership in all the prisons supported the decision. According to the statement, lawyers from all the Palestinian organizations would be asked not to appear starting January 1 in court for the purpose of hearings on administrative detention orders or on their approval. Lacking a lawyer, the court cannot discuss the order – but it cannot cancel it.

The director of the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, attorney Sahar Francis, told Haaretz that “the authorities of the occupation are not honoring the limitations that international law has set on imposing administrative detentions and they are being done arbitrarily, something that is a war crime according to the occupation laws.”

According to Francis, the decision to boycott the legal system in Israel was made after many efforts were made to battle the administrative detention policy, including hunger strikes led by a few prisoners in recent months.

The director general of the Palestinian prisoner administration, Abd al-Qadir al-Khatib, said at the press conference that the courts in Israel were acting as a rubber stamp for the defense establishment in Israel, and were accepting every request from the army and Shin Bet. 

The Palestinian prisoners club said the military courts approve every request for an administrative order that the army and Shin Bet submit, and appeals of administrative orders that reach the Supreme Court were denied one after another – even though this practice violates international law. According to data from HaMoked Center for the Defense of the Individual, the prisons in Israel are holding 4,392 Palestinian prisoners as of this month – 493 of whom are administrative detainees, imprisoned without trial and without being exposed to the evidence against them.

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