Shaher al-Rai, other prominent Palestinians, issued administrative detention renewals; son launches strike to reunite with father

A number of Palestinian prisoners have been subject to orders for administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial. Over 700 Palestinian prisoners – out of 7,000 total Palestinians in Israeli jails – are held without charge or trial on the basis of “secret evidence” in this type of detention. These detention orders are indefinitely renewable, and Palestinians can be held for years at a time in administrative detention.

On 23 January, Palestinian community activist and leader Shaher al-Rai, 47, had his administrative detention order renewed by the Israeli military for the fifth time. He was seized alongside fellow prominent Palestinian leftist Jamal Barham on 3 June 2015 in raids on their home by occupation military forces. Al-Rai was interrogated about “membership in an illegal organization,” the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, but he refused to confess; he was shortly thereafter ordered to administrative detention. He has been arrested seven times, including three stints in administrative detention, and imprisoned for over 12 years in total. Al-Rai is currently held in the Negev desert prison.

Al-Rai is married to Palestinian activist Manal al-Rai and they have three children, Jarrah, 24, Wajla, 20, and Kanaan, 5. Manal al-Rai spoke about the impact of her husband’s administrative detention on their young son in this video from Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association:

Earlier, Al-Rai was imprisoned by Palestinian Authority security forces for multiple years after he and his cousin were implicated in a false affidavit given by a Palestinian prisoner under Israeli torture. The confession was proven false by incontrovertible evidence and the Palestinian who made the confession under torture released and later compensated by Israeli intelligence, in an unusual case. Nevertheless, al-Rai remained held in PA prison for years after the discrediting of the confession, and released only after a widespread campaign.

Meanwhile, Palestinian administrative detainee Bajis Nakhleh, 50, from the Jalazon refugee camp in Ramallah, has threatened to launch an open hunger strike after he was transferred to solitary confinement. His administrative detention without charge or trial was most recently renewed for the third time since his seizure by occupation forces on 5 March 2016. Nakhleh has spent over 20 years in Israeli prisons and was
one of the Marj al-Zohour deportees, when leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad were forcibly deported from Palestine in 1992.

Ahmed Mubarak, 48, became the fourth member of the Palestinian Legislative Council currently held without charge or trial under administrative detention on 23 January, when the Ofer Military Court issued an order for his imprisonment for six months. Mubarak’s home was forcibly raided by Israeli occupation military forces on 16 January. The PLC member has been imprisoned for over five years in repeated arrests and was most recently held without charge or trial under administrative detention in 2014.

Alongside Mubarak, his fellow members of the PLC held in administrative detention are Hassan Yousef, Mohammed Natsheh and Azzam Salhab. PLC members Marwan Barghouthi, Ahmad Sa’adat and Mohammed Abu Teir are also imprisoned in Israeli jails; PFLP General Secretary Sa’adat is serving a 30-year sentence, Barghouthi is serving multiple life sentences and Abu Teir is serving a 17-month sentence.

Palestinian writer Walid Hodali, also seized by occupation forces in a raid on his home in Tira, west of Ramallah, on 16 January, was also ordered to four months in administrative detention without charge or trial on 23 Januaary. Hodali, 57, is a former prisoner who spent over 15 years total in Israeli jails; his wife, Etaf Alayan, also spent over 14 years in Israeli prison and engaged in multiple hunger strikes. Today, Hodali is the director of the Jerusalem Literary Office and a member of the Palestinian Writers’ Union. He has released a number of novels, short stories and articles and has produced two films.

In addition, Palestinian prisoner Faisal Khalifa, 35, from Nour Shams refugee camp east of Tulkarem, was ordered to six more months in administrative detention on 25 January; he has been imprisoned without charge or trial since 10 February 2016. Khalifa previously spent eight years in Israeli prisons until his release in 2013 and was also arrested by Palestinian Authority security forces under security coordination. His brother, Faris Khalifa, is serving a 10-year sentence, while his other brother Fursan Khalifa was released to the Gaza Strip in the 2011 Wafa al-Ahrar prisoner exchange.

Palestinian administrative detainee Islam Saleh Dar Musa, 24, has launched a hunger strike on 25 January to protest his separation from his imprisoned father, Sheikh Saleh Dar Musa, 52. Islam Dar Musa has been imprisoned without charge or trial since 20 August 2016; he was originally ordered to four months in administrative detention, and the order was renewed in December. Saleh Dar Musa is serving 17 life sentences and has been imprisoned since 27 September 2003. Islam applied to transfer to Ramon prison to be with his father, but it was denied; he has not seen his father since he was imprisoned in 2013 and met his father in Hadarim prison before his release in 2015.