Hundreds of Palestinian Prisoners Held without Charge Boycott Israeli Courts

Administrative Detention allows Israel to hold Palestinian prisoners without charge. (Photo: ActiveStills.org, file)

Hundreds of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons without charge or trial have launched an open-ended boycott of Israel’s military courts.

In a joint statement announcing Thursday’s move, 450 people jailed under Israel’s controversial practice of administrative detention said their decision had been taken “collectively and unanimously”.

“The core of resisting administrative detention policy comes from boycotting this Israeli legal system,” the detainees, held in various locations, said in the statement.

“We put our faith and trust in our people, their power and institutions, and in the civil society which will not leave us alone in this fight.”

The prisoners also urged the Palestinian Authority to take the issue of administrative detention to the International Criminal Court (ICC) “as soon as possible”.

Administrative detention is a vague legal process that allows Israel to imprison Palestinians from the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip without charge or trial for an indefinite period. These arrests are based on undisclosed “secret evidence”.

In recent months, there has been a spike in the number of arrests made without charge, especially as protests across the occupied territories – including East Jerusalem – erupted over a US decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Sahar Francis, director of Addameer, a Ramallah-based prisoners’ rights group, said there were three stages to the prisoners’ move.

“The first is to boycott the reaffirmation hearings, which endorse detention based on an undisclosed national security threat,” Francis told Al Jazeera.

“Then, they will boycott the appeals court, which is a military court, but there for lawyers to appeal the reaffirmation decisions,” she said.

“And the final stage is to boycott the option to appeal to the constitutional court.”

Lawyers representing the detainees have also agreed not to attend court hearings.

Throughout the duration of the boycott, detainees will be risking losing access to family visitation rights and prison canteens, as well face the possibility of solitary confinement as a means of reprisal.

During their forced transfer to hearings, detainees are often beaten, verbally abused and dragged in chains.

Other risks include courts going ahead with hearings even without the presence of the prisoners and their lawyers, in violation of international standards.

(Aljazeera, PC, Social Media)

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