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Israel keeps Bilal Kayed in 'administrative detention'

Human Rights

Members of New York City Students for Justice in Palestine and other supporters of Palestinian political prisoner Bilal Kayed, an 'administrative detainee', protest on his 42nd day of hunger strike (25 July 2016). Joe Catron under a Creative Commons Licence

The prisoner is the latest victim of Israel's form of detention, which doesn't entail charge nor trial, Noreen Sadik writes.

After spending nearly 14 and a half years in an Israeli prison for his affiliation with the left-wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Bilal Kayed was due to be released on 13 June – but he wasn't.

Instead, on that day, Bilal was told that he would be held in administrative detention, which amounts to imprisonment without charge or trial.

Kayed’s detention was to last six months, with the possibility of renewal for an indefinite period of time.

Two days later, on 15 June, he began a hunger strike in protest of his continued imprisonment.

The military court ruled that, based on secret evidence gathered about his activities before his initial arrest and his intentions upon release he continued to pose a threat to Israel’s security.

Seventy-one days later, following a severe deterioration in Kayed’s health, his lawyer reached an agreement with the Israeli military prosecution, and Kayed ended his hunger strike. He told his supporters:

My thanks and appreciation for all of your sacrifices for the sake of Palestine and the Palestinian cause which is too often lost in the halls of politics and the shelves of postponement, and in particular the cause of the prisoners, which is abandoned and lost here and there. Today, this issue was brought to the table with your efforts and your support and your mobilization in the homeland and in the diaspora. The prisoners are yesterday’s strugglers and tomorrow’s leaders. We must support them and I remind you that there are still those prisoners who are fighting a vicious battle against this occupier that does not understand anything but the language of challenge.

His administrative detention will not be renewed and he will be released from prison on 12 December 2016.

Kayed’s case had been in the spotlight for months but as of July 2016 there were 7,000 Palestinian political prisoners, and 750 administrative detainees in Israeli prisons.

According to Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, since the Israeli occupation of Palestine in 1967, more than 800,000 Palestinians have been arrested. That is almost 20 per cent of the population of the occupied territories.

The use of administrative detention has increased since the second Intifada (uprising) which began in September 2000 and ended in February 2005. On the eve of the second Intifada, 12 Palestinians were held in administrative detention but during the years of the intifada that number has increased to more than 8,000.

Addameer states, the case of Bilal Kayed – detained on the day that he completed his sentence – sets a dangerous policy with legal precedent, and is an example of how administrative detention is arbitrary detention which may amount to psychological torture and degrading treatment.

An occupying power must adhere to international laws regarding administrative detention.

The Fourth Geneva Convention states that administrative detention is permitted only ‘if the security of the Detaining Power makes it absolutely necessary’, or for ‘imperative reasons of security’, but not as a means of punishment. Similarly, the Convention states that:

  • a person should not be transferred to another territory;
  • detainees must be held in adequate accommodation in regards to health and hygiene, and must not be held with prisoners who have committed crimes;
  • the detainee has the right to receive visitors, especially near relatives, on a regular basis and as often as possible, and in cases of urgency, such as death or serious illness of relatives, detainees should be permitted to visit their homes.

Israel does not abide by this law.

Israeli law permits the military commander to issue administration detention orders based on the presumption that the security of the area or public security is threatened. However, no definition of ‘security of the area’ or ‘public security’ is given.

In most cases, states a report by Addameer, the military judge makes a decision based on ‘a summary of the evidence, without reading the entire contents of the secret material, without discussing it with the intelligence delegate, and without examining the information’s authenticity.’

Additionally, decisions are based on secret evidence which the detainee and his lawyer cannot have access to.

Kayed was not given the opportunity to challenge his detention which is a violation of his rights.

‘The stark reality is that not a single Palestinian charged with so-called security-related and other criminal offenses who passes through the Israeli military court system receives a fair trial,’ states Addameer.

Kayed, like all Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, was transferred from the West Bank and interned in detention centres, interrogation centres or other prisons inside Israel.

He was moved from prison to prison, where he was subjected to raids on his cell, body searches, and placed in isolation. While in the hospital, despite his obvious physical limitations, he was shackled to his bed.

An offer of release was made to Kayed should he agree to be deported to Jordan for four years. He refused. Threats to hold him under administrative detention for another four years did not sway him.

Palestinians are not allowed to enter Israel without permits, therefore, many prisoners are denied family visits, or go years without seeing family members.

Kayed was banned from family visits, and while in isolation, his father passed away.

Robert Piper, UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Assistance and Development Aid in the Occupied Palestinian Territory said, ‘The number of administrative detainees is at an eight-year high. I reiterate the United Nations long-standing position that all administrative detainees – Palestinian or Israeli – should be charged or released without delay.’

Urging the international community to continue their work to ensure that human rights violations are no longer committed, Addameer says, ‘This is an open battle until the policy of administrative detention ends.’

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