Ramallah, May 20, 2022—Israeli authorities issued administrative detention orders against two Palestinian boys in the northern occupied West Bank last month.
Anas Abdurrahman Mohammad Abu al-Rob, 17, was detained from his home by Israeli forces in the village of Qabatiya, south of Jenin in the northern occupied West Bank, around 3 a.m. on March 17. An Israeli military judge at Salem military court extended his detention several times and on April 3 the Israeli military prosecutor requested Anas’ detention be extended another 72 hours. In that period, a four-month administrative detention order was issued against him, according to information collected by Defense for Children International - Palestine.
Aseel Nasser Fathi Dwaikat, also 17, was detained from his home by Israeli forces around 2:30 a.m. on April 15 in the village of Beita, southeast of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank, according to information collected by DCIP. An Israeli military judge at Salem military court extended his administrative detention for 72 hours before issuing a six-month administrative detention order against him on April 19.
“Israeli authorities must release Anas and Aseel immediately,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, accountability program director at DCIP. “Israeli authorities systematically deny Palestinian detainees basic due process and fair trial rights in the Israeli military court system. Israel’s practice of using administrative detention to arbitrarily deprive Palestinians of their liberty is unconscionable and must end.”
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.
This week, Israeli authorities released 18-year-old Amal Nakhleh after 481 days in administrative detention. Nakhleh’s imprisonment without charge or trial was found to be an arbitrary detention by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention according to an opinion released in November 2021 in response to a complaint filed by DCIP on Nakhleh’s behalf.
Israeli forces detained 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. The most recent administrative detention order expired on May 17, 2022, when Nakhleh was released.
BREAKING: Amal Nakhleh is free after being held by Israeli authorities in administrative detention w/o charge for 481 days. Amal was 17 when he was first detained on January 21, 2021. He suffers from autoimmune disease myasthenia gravis and contracted COVID-19 while in detention. pic.twitter.com/bvO9s0LNKC— Defense for Children (@DCIPalestine) May 17, 2022
Israeli authorities continue to imprison 18-year-old Mohammad Ghassan Ahmad Mansour without charge or trial since April 2021 when he was detained as a 17 year old. An Israeli military court judge approved a four-month administrative detention order on February 13, 2022, extending the detention of Mansour until at least June 6, 2022, according to information gathered by DCIP. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention recently found Israeli forces were arbitrarily detaining Mansour and called for his immediate release.
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.
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 43 Palestinian children held by Israeli authorities pursuant to administrative detention orders.
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.
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.