Monday, November 18, 2019

Palestinian prisoners transferred to administrative detention by Israel on day of scheduled release


By K. Künzl - October 16, 2019
TAGS:
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [prisoner release]

According to a report by the human rights group B’Tselem released on Thursday, Palestinian prisoners are being transferred to administrative detention on the last day of their formal sentence.


Israeli occupation forces maintain two imprisonment procedures for Palestinians living in the West Bank; criminal and administrative. 


In the former, the accused is tried in a military court, although evidence is “usually scant” and limited to a “confession” extracted by means of coercive interrogation.  Most often these cases end in a plea deal agreed upon by the prosecution and defence, approved by the military judge.


During the administrative procedure, the OC Central Command will sign off on an arrest warrant and the accused is detained without a charge.  Here the evidence is withheld from the legal counsel and there is no trial to refute it.


The main difference between these two legal procedures is the release date. For “the criminal track” prisoners are given a finite amount of time to serve as decided during the court hearing.  


However, administrative detention orders can be extended for indefinite periods of time for up to six months, even on the day of scheduled release, as long as the military commander identifies “reasonable grounds to presume that the security of the area or public security requires the detention” according to Al-Haq


By the end of August 2019, a reported 2,851 Palestinian residents of the West Bank were serving sentences in Israeli prisons and 413 were being held in administrative detention, including a minor and one woman.


Administrative detention places prisoners in a constant state of uncertainty and stress. 


“The prisoners were notified of their transfer to administrative detention just prior to their release, when they were already preparing to reunite with their families,” B’Tselem stated.

During the early morning hours of  30 January 2019, Israeli soldiers burst into the house of Ja’far 'Iz a-Din, a 48-year-old construction worker from Araba, southwest of Jenin.  The soldiers arrested the father who was a former prisoner freed in the Shalit deal of 2011.  


A-Din was then sentenced to five months in prison for charges of “performing services for an unlawful association” reported BT’selem.


On A-Din’s scheduled release date of 16 June 2019, he was informed “an administrative detention order had been issued against him for a period of three months,” the BT’selem reported.


“It was a sad day for us all. The kids were in shock. They were so sad when they heard about their father's administrative detention. They’d been waiting for him for five months and were so excited he was about to be released,” A-Din’s wife, Asmaa Iz a-Din said in a testimony she gave to B’Tselem.


Although the prosecution refused to disclose the grounds for detention to him or a-Din’s lawyer, as with every administrative detention, a-Din was ultimately able to receive a shorter sentence and released on 8 August 2019.


“Yusef, 8, drew him a picture that he was planning to wave when we welcomed him at Jalameh Checkpoint and shout, 'My father is free!’” Asmaa Iz a-Din continued.

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