Israeli authorities extend Palestinian teen’s detention without charge

Feb 17, 2022
Mohammad Mansour has been detained by Israeli authorities without charge since April 9, 2021. (Photo: Courtesy of the Mansour family)

Ramallah, February 17, 2022—Israeli authorities renewed the administrative detention of a Palestinian teenager for an additional four-month period on Sunday adding to more than 300 days of imprisonment without charge or trial. 

An Israeli military court judge approved a four-month administrative detention order on February 13 that was issued by Israeli military officials against 18-year-old Mohammad Ghassan Ahmad Mansour, according to information gathered by Defense for Children International - Palestine. This latest order is set to expire on June 6, 2022, and is the third consecutive administrative detention order issued by Israeli authorities against Mansour. He is currently detained in Israel’s Megiddo prison located in northern Israel north of the occupied West Bank.

“Israeli authorities must file charges against Palestinian children or release them,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, accountability program director at DCIP. “Administrative detention must never be used to detain children and amounts to a clear violation of fundamental due process rights. Israeli authorities must immediately end the arbitrary detention of Palestinian administrative detainees.”

Israeli forces detained Mansour, then 17, during a night raid on his home in Jenin in the northern occupied West Bank on April 9, 2021. He was detained for 15 days at Israel’s Huwwara detention center in the northern occupied West Bank in conditions that Mohammad and other children have described as inhumane, based on documentation collected by DCIP. 

Palestinian teenagers Ahmad and Abdulkareem, both 17, describe their harrowing experiences being interrogated and ill-treated by Israeli forces in the Huwwara Interrogation and Detention Center near the city of Nablus in the occupied West Bank.

An Israeli judge at Israel’s Ofer military court approved a six-month administrative detention order against Mansour on April 25, 2021. A second administrative detention order was approved on October 7, 2021, for an additional four-month period. That second order expired on February 7, 2022, according to documentation gathered by DCIP. 

Mohammad Mansour has been detained by Israeli authorities without charge since April 9, 2021. (Photo: Courtesy of the Mansour family)

Administrative detention is a form of imprisonment without charge or trial regularly used by Israeli authorities to detain Palestinians, including children. Palestinian children held under administrative detention orders are not presented with charges, and their detention is based on secret evidence that is neither disclosed to the child nor their attorney, preventing them from preparing a legal challenge to the detention and its alleged basis, according to documentation collected by DCIP. 

Administrative detention orders are issued by the Israeli military commander of the area, or a military officer delegated by the military commander, and can last up to six months, but there is no limit to the number of times an administrative detention order can be renewed. The orders are approved by military court judges giving the illusion of independent legal oversight, yet Israeli military courts fail to meet international standards for independence and impartiality because military court judges are active duty or reserve officers in the Israeli military.

Israeli authorities currently hold at least two other Palestinian teenagers pursuant to administrative detention orders, which amounts to arbitrary detention, according to documentation collected by DCIP. 

Israeli forces detained Amal Nakhleh, then 17, on January 21, 2021. An Israeli military court judge approved a six-month administrative detention order against Nakhleh on January 25, 2021, which was reduced to four months on appeal. Since then, Israeli military court judges approved three additional four-month administrative detention orders on May 20, 2021, September 19, 2021, and, most recently, January 13, 2022, according to information gathered by DCIP. 

Nakhleh suffers from myasthenia gravis, a rare chronic autoimmune, neuromuscular disease that causes muscle weakness, including in the muscles used for breathing and swallowing. His condition requires ongoing medical treatment and that he take medication regularly and without interruption. 

Nakhleh tested positive for COVID-19 on January 25, 2022, and was transferred to Al-Ramle prison clinic for three days before returning to Ofer prison near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, according to information gathered by DCIP. Because of Amal’s chronic autoimmune disease, he cannot be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Israeli authorities have detained Amal Nakhleh under administrative detention orders for over a year. He suffers from myasthenia gravis, a rare autoimmune disorder. (Photo courtesy of the Nakhleh family)

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UN WGAD), a body of independent experts that investigates cases of arbitrary detention and imprisonment, issued an opinion last November analyzing Nakhleh’s administrative detention following a complaint filed earlier in the year by DCIP on Amal’s behalf. 

The UN WGAD found that Nakhleh’s detention was arbitrary and concluded that he was detained on a discriminatory basis, including “national, ethnic, and social origin,” and his gender, noting that the Israeli military shows a “clear pattern of targeting young males for detention.” The UN WGAD also reaffirmed its position that Israeli military courts imposing administrative detention do not meet international legal requirements for independence and impartiality.

Israeli forces detained 17-year-old Wadea E. on September 14, 2021 while he was working at a car wash in the city of Al-Taybeh in central Israel. The Israeli military commander issued a four-month administrative detention order against him on September 26, 2021. At an appeal hearing on November 17, 2021, a military court judge reduced the administrative detention order by one month. On December 1, 2021, an Israeli military court judge approved a three-month administrative detention order against Wadea, which is set to expire on February 28, 2022. Wadea is currently detained at Megiddo prison in northern Israel.

Israeli authorities have detained Wadea E., 17, without charge or trial since September 14, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Wadea E.’s family)

Until recently, Israeli authorities held a fourth teen pursuant to an administrative detention order. 17-year-old Sami H. from Bethlehem was detained by Israeli forces on September 20, 2021, according to documentation collected by DCIP. An Israeli military court judge approved a four-month detention order on September 26, 2021, which expired on January 19, 2022. Israeli authorities filed charges against Sami on January 20, 2022, and he is currently being held in pre-trial detention, according to DCIP’s documentation. 

In situations of international armed conflict, administrative detention is permitted in strictly limited circumstances in only the most exceptional cases for “imperative reasons of security” when there is no other alternative. The practice should never be used as an alternative to filing charges or as a general deterrent for future activity.

Between 2012-2014, Israeli authorities briefly suspended the practice of detaining Palestinian children under administrative detention orders. However, since October 2015, DCIP has documented a total of 41 Palestinian children held by Israeli authorities pursuant to administrative detention orders.

International juvenile justice standards, which Israel has obliged itself to implement by ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, demand that children should only be deprived of their liberty as a measure of last resort and must not be unlawfully or arbitrarily detained. 

Israel has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world that systematically prosecutes between 500 and 700 children in military courts each year that lack fundamental fair trial rights.

An estimated 500 Palestinian prisoners are currently detained pursuant to administrative detention orders, according to Addameer. 

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