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Free Palestinian Hunger Striker Maher Akhras Now

Haaretz Editorial
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Maher Akhras is seen in a hospital bed in Kaplan Hospital, September 29, 2020.
Maher Akhras is seen in a hospital bed in Kaplan Hospital, September 29, 2020.Credit: Motti Millrod
Haaretz Editorial

For the second time, the High Court of Justice denied the request for release by administrative detainee Maher Akhras, who has been on a hunger strike for over two and a half months. Akhras, who is hospitalized in Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot in serious condition, was offered a deal on Wednesday: End his hunger strike and in return the government would commit itself not to renew the administrative detention order against him when it expires on November 26. But this offer was accompanied by a condition: The detention could be renewed if new evidence concerning Akhras is received about the “danger expected from his release.” Akhras rejected the proposal and demanded to be released without conditions.

When it comes to , the High Court has given in time after time to the security establishment, even though this has no place in a country governed by law. Instead of stating in a clear and decisive voice, once and for all, that detentions without trial are unacceptable in a democratic country; instead of ruling that if the state has suspicions about a person, or if it thinks he is dangerous, it must present an indictment against him and put him on trial – the High Court continues to approve administrative detention and ignore the danger it embodies.

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A trial is the only way to do justice, there is no other way. But the has evaded making a clear ruling on the matter time after time, and in doing so it is abusing its role, as happens with all the rest of its attempts to satisfy the defense establishment, whose decisions, in most cases, it automatically approves in a distressing way.

Akhras’ case is especially serious: His medical condition is deteriorating and his request to be released unconditionally is justified like no other. The state claims he is an activist in the Islamic Jihad organization – without presenting him with any evidence, as is acceptable in administrative detention cases. At one of the hearings behind closed doors on his case, the state presented a video that it says shows him taking pride in his membership in . that the transcription of the video shows that Akhras made no such statement.

But this of course is not the main issue: The important thing is that if the state has suspicions against Akhras, it must present the evidence it has and put him on trial. Otherwise, it must release him unconditionally, and immediately. Time is running out; his medical situation is worsening. If, God forbid, he dies, then the High Court will also bear responsibility for his death. It’s a shame it did not see that, either, in this case.

The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.