9 Palestinians issued administrative detention orders; astrophysicist freed

Yassin Abu Lafah, 24, a Palestinian prisoners’ rights advocate from Askar refugee camp near Nablus arrested on 12 January, was ordered to six months in Israeli administrative detention without charge or trial on 24 January.

He joined 8 more Palestinians whose orders to imprisonment without charge or trial were confirmed as renewed by the Ofer military court: Noor Dudeen, who was ordered to four months administrative detention (his initial order had been for six months); Mahmoud Sweiteh, ordered to four months administrative detention; Nidal Kamal Mar’i, ordered to two months administrative detention (his initial order had been for three months; it was noted that this would be his final detention before release); Nader Jaffal, ordered renewed for four months; Marwan Shawamreh, ordered to six months further imprisonment; Murad Shqeiqat, ordered to four months administrative detention; Abdul Rahman Hindiyeh, ordered to 2 months administrative detention (down from an original order of four); and Abdullah Musa El-Omleh, ordered to six more months imprisonment.

imadbDr. Imad Barghouthi, a Palestinian astrophysicist and professor at Al-Quds University who formerly worked at NASA in the United States, was released from administrative detention on 22 January. He had been arrested while travelling to an academic conference in the United Arab Emirates and ordered to three months administrative detention. Following the filing of an appeal and a campaign by scientists and physicists around the world, the order against him was lifted.

For Abu Lafah, this was his first administrative detention order after arrest; the other 8 were renewed orders. 98 administrative detention orders against Palestinians have now been issued by Israeli military courts in January. Administrative detention orders, which frequently target community leaders, are issued without charge or trial and on the basis of secret evidence – if any. They can range from one to six month periods and are indefinitely renewable; Palestinians can spend years in administrative detention, never charged or tried. 17 of these orders renewed existing administrative detention orders, while 5 were newly issued.

The systematic use of arbitrary imprisonment by Israeli forces to punish Palestinians violates international humanitarian law under the Fourth Geneva Convention. There are approximately 500 Palestinians held in administrative detention, imprisoned without charge or trial