Palestinian prisoner Ghassan Zawahreh announced his boycott of the Israeli occupation courts after he was ordered to another six months in administrative detention, imprisoned without charge or trial. Zawahreh is a former long-term hunger striker and a prominent leftist activist in Dheisheh refugee camp; he was seized from his home in the pre-dawn hours of 10 December 2018, only months after he was released in July 2018 after over a year in administrative detention and a seven-month prison sentence.
He declared on 14 July that he would not appear before the occupation court to confirm his administrative detention order. Instead, he sent a letter to the court through his lawyer, declaring:
“Administrative detention is a heinous crime for the ages. What is even more criminal is the occupation’s attempts to mislead through mock courts and charades where the executioner and the ruler, dressed up in military suits, represent the Occupation and its crimes.
I will not be a part of this charade until administrative detention is ended once and and for all. I reject this court and refuse to be represented by anyone in it”.
He has spent over 14 years in total in Israeli prisons; his brother Moataz Zawahreh was murdered by Israeli occupation forces as he participated in a popular protest in Bethlehem in 2015. Moataz had actually returned home to Palestine from where he was studying in France to support Ghassan, who was engaged in a long-term hunger strike against his imprisonment without charge or trial.
Administrative detention orders are issued for up to six months at a time on the basis of secret evidence and are indefinitely renewable. There are currently approximately 500 Palestinians – out of over 5,200 total Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails – held in administrative detention, and Palestinians have been jailed for years at a time without charge or trial under these repeated orders.
The Israeli occupation also turns to administrative detention to keep Palestinians jailed even after sentences imposed upon them by the military courts expire. For example, on Sunday, 16 June, Jafar Ezzedine, 47, from Jenin, was suddenly transferred to administrative detention under a three-month order, immediately following his planned release from Megiddo prison after serving a five-month sentence. While his family, including his wife and eight children, was waiting for his return home, he was instead once again thrown behind bars – with no charge and no trial.
Ezzedine has spent a total of five years in Israeli prison in the past, including several periods of administrative detention. He has engaged in multiple long-term hunger strikes while detained without charge or trial, including a 55-day strike in 2012 and a 93-day strike in 2013.
Ezzedine is not alone; Palestinian prisoner Malik Mohammed Abu Eisha, 34, from al-Khalil, was also ordered to four months in administrative detention after the end of his one-year sentence. Detained since May 2018, Abu Eisha was supposed to be released at the end of May 2019. Instead, his wife and three children were left waiting for him as he remains imprisoned without charge or trial. Two of his brothers are detained as well; his brother Abdel-Qader is serving an 11 year sentence that will end in 2019, while his brother Abdel-Hadi has been detained without charge or trial in administrative detention since May 2019.
In addition, Fidaa Mohammed Damas, 25, from Beit Ummar, currently the only Palestinian woman prisoner held without charge or trial under administrative detention, was once again ordered to two more months of arbitrary imprisonment on 12 June, only two days before her detention was to expire. Her detention was renewed for the fourth time in a row by the Israeli military court; she has now been imprisoned for over a year, since 29 May 2018. She was originally sentenced to 90 days in Israeli prison; on the day of her release, the university student in business administration was ordered to remain jailed without charge or trial under administrative detention for six months. Her detention was renewed in February and again on 12 June.
Damas was previously seized by Israeli occupation forces on 28 January 2015 and sentenced to six months in prison; she was released in July 2015. She is currently held in Damon prison with the other women prisoners preparing for an open hunger strike on 1 July.