Since the initiation of their collective boycott on 1 January 2022 under the campaign ‘Our Decision is Freedom…No to Administrative Detention,’ all 490 Palestinian administrative detainees have completed three months (90 days) of their mass, collective, and comprehensive boycott against Israeli military courts. The boycott comes amid Israeli occupation authorities’ broad escalation of administrative detention targeting Palestinian human rights defenders, students, politicians, and former prisoners.
Over the past few years, Israeli occupation authorities have increasingly relied on administrative detention, a procedure in which detainees are held indefinitely without charge or trial based on “secret information,” as an arbitrary, coercive, and punitive measure against hundreds of Palestinian detainees. Between 2017-2021, Israeli occupation authorities issued 5,728 administrative detention orders against Palestinians across the occupied territories. In 2021, the number of administrative detention orders surged to 1,695 amid the Israeli occupation and apartheid regime’s expansion of mass arbitrary arrests and detention in response to the Palestinian Unity Uprising. Moreover, the uptick in arbitrary arrests and detention comes alongside the Israeli occupation’s systematic harassment and arbitrary criminalization of six leading Palestinian civil society organizations (CSOs) in October 2021.
Nevertheless, despite Palestinian administrative detainees’ initiation of their collective boycott of Israeli military courts in January 2022, Israeli occupation authorities continue to escalate their use of administrative detention. Between January and February 2022, Israeli occupation authorities issued 203 administrative detention orders, including 83 new orders and 120 renewals, marking an increase from the same period in 2021, which saw 175 administrative detention orders, among them 51 new orders and 124 renewals. Most recently, on 29 March 2022, Israeli occupation authorities announced their intentions to increase the use of administrative detention against Palestinians, with Israeli citizenship, in the 1948 occupied territories.
Throughout, the Israeli military judicial system plays an integral role in facilitating the expansion of administrative detention, and more broadly, in sustaining and feeding the establishment of a comprehensive Israeli apartheid apparatus over the occupied territories. For three months since the initiation of their boycott, all 490 Palestinian administrative detainees have boycotted Israeli military courts at all levels, including courts of first instance, appellate courts, and the Israeli civil ‘High Court,’ refusing to participate in court procedures and hearings and asking their legal counsel to do the same. Since then, Palestinian administrative detainees have had their administrative detention orders confirmed and renewed in absentia, without any respect for the detainees' rights.
Alongside their boycott, Palestinian administrative detainees have taken additional escalatory steps to protest their arbitrary administrative detention from inside prisons. On 1 March 2022, sick Palestinian administrative detainees refused to take their medicine for one week. Later, between 6-8 March 2022, Palestinian Administrative detainees held in Meggido, Ofer, and Naqab prisons returned one of their meals on all three consecutive days in continued protest. Similarly, on 10 March 2022, they refused to stand for the evening prison ‘count,’ sending a letter of protest. On 15 March 2022, the entire Palestinian prisoner movement, encompassing administrative detainees and the thousands of Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli prisons, returned three meals across all Israeli prisons to support the administrative detainees' military court boycott campaign.
Despite the very serious steps taken by Palestinian administrative detainees to highlight the farcical role played by Israeli military courts in mediating the Israeli military commander’s arbitrary and extensive issuance of administrative detention orders, Israeli occupation authorities and military judges continue to proceed with the issuance and confirmation of new and renewed orders. During confirmation hearings, Israeli military judges often state that they “acknowledge that the administrative detainee refuses to be presented in a military court; however, we cannot ignore the possible threat he imposes on the security of the region.”
Among these cases is Palestinian administrative detainee Amal Nakhleh, who suffers from a rare neuromuscular disorder and was first arrested as a child, 17 years old, and held under administrative detention on 21 January 2021. On 18 January 2022, an Israeli military court held a confirmation hearing for the third renewal of Amal’s administrative detention order, despite Amal’s participation in the collective boycott and refusal to appear before the court.
Similarly, five Palestinian university students continue to be held under arbitrary administrative detention and participate in the collective boycott; including Hamza Zalloum (sentenced to 6 months), Nader Oweidat (4 months), Sufian Miqdadi (4 months), Yahya Alawi (4 months), Naman Hamed (5 months), and Mohammad Khatib (3 months).
More recently, on 7 March 2022, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) violently arrested Palestinian-French Jerusalemite, human rights defender, and Addameer lawyer Salah Hammouri, extending his detention before issuing a three-month administrative detention order against him. Salah has been the subject of Israeli persecution since he was 15 years old, and has faced continuous judicial and administrative harassment by Israeli occupation authorities, including imprisonment and arbitrary arrests, travel bans, separation from his family, surveillance, and the illegal revocation of his permanent Jerusalem residency and forced deportation on 18 October 2021. Salah joins the boycott, refusing to participate in the military court procedings related to his administrative detention and requesting his legal counsel do the same.
Further, on 25 March 2022, IOF arrested the mayoral candidate for Al-Bireh, Islam al-Taweel, ahead of the second round of the Palestinian municipality elections on 26 March 2022. Two days later, on 27 March 2022, the Israeli military commander issued a four-month administrative detention order against Islam al-Taweel, reflecting the Israeli occupation and apartheid regime’s longstanding policy of arbitrarily arresting and detaining Palestinian political leaders.
Administrative Detention: Stark Violation of Palestinian Detainees' Rights
The Israeli occupation regime's systematic and arbitrary practice of administrative detention, in which it routinely holds hundreds of Palestinians under arbitrary, indefinite administrative detention, violates core International Humanitarian Law (IHL) principles and many other international standards. These include, inter alia, the forced transfer of administrative detainees, as the occupied population, to prisons in the Occupying Power; inhumane living conditions and ill-treatment and torture; detention of Palestinian women and children; and arbitrary detention as a form of persecution.
Over the years, United Nations experts and Special Rapporteurs have issued several statements, most recently on 21 October 2021, strongly condemning Israeli practices of administrative detention in violation of international law, calling on Israeli occupation authorities to "release or charge" detainees and end its "unlawful practice of administrative detention," emphasizing their arbitrary nature "which is strictly prohibited under international law, including international humanitarian law." Notably, the Human Rights Committee’s concluding observations on the fifth periodic report to the Committee on Civil and Political Rights stated that Israel “should immediately put an end to the widespread practice of arbitrary arrests and detention, including administrative detention, of Palestinians, in particular, children.” Further, the concluding observations highlighted the arbitrary nature of Amal Nakhleh and Salah Hammouri’s arrest within the broader context of maintaining control over the Palestinian people.