The Israeli hand that signs administrative detention orders added this week Khalida Jarrar, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, to the shameful list of such detainees. Jarrar is an activist of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and a member of the Palestinian team that monitors relations with the International Criminal Court in The Hague. She joins some 450 administrative detainees held in prison with no legal process.
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These prisoners are not permitted to give evidence or get any details of the charges against them. Usually, they do not know when their detention will end.
International conventions do not prohibit administrative detentions, but restrict their use to extremely irregular cases, due to the harsh infringement of civil and prisoners’ rights involved. Israel interprets this restriction too liberally and sometimes makes excessive use of the detentions, without letting the public know whether there is any justification for them.
Three years ago, following the administrative detainees’ prolonged hunger strike, Israel agreed to restrict the use of administrative detentions and their number dropped significantly. But after the abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank last June, and as part of the summer’s military offensive in Gaza, the number of detainees – especially of Hamas activists – soared again.
There is no better evidence of the contempt for human rights than in the security services’ excessive use of their authority. If it transpires that public pressure can lead to a dramatic decline in the number of detainees, why was it necessary to arrest and detain those people in the first place? And if they were arrested, why were they released (following public pressure) and not put on trial in keeping with due legal process?
This question must also be asked in Jarrar’s case. Jarrar was issued a restriction order in August that allowed her to stay only in the Jericho area. One may ponder the extent of such an order’s effectiveness, when Jarrar can carry out her public activity via the media. She is permitted to meet activists who come to her home and express her positions on the Internet. It would not be groundless to state that the restraining order was meant to deter her from her public activity and punish her for it, rather than to prevent terror attacks.
But Jarrar apparently dared to violate the foolish order and for that she is being punished now with administrative detention. This is how Israel seeks to deter every Palestinian public activist – not to mention one involved with advancing the processes in the International Criminal Court – from realizing his or her rights.
If Jarrar broke the law, Israel must put her on trial and prove she committed a crime. If, on the other hand, the reason for her detention is revenge, she must be released immediately.