The growing battle to end administrative detention: Boycott launched for 2022; Hisham Abu Hawash on hunger strike for 126 days


As Hisham Abu Hawash enters his 127th day of hunger strike, the collective struggle of Palestinian prisoners to end administrative detention — imprisonment without charge or trial — is escalating. The Administrative Detainees’ Committee announced that, as of 1 January 2022, the administrative detainees will collectively boycott the Israeli occupation military courts.

Currently, approximately 500 out of the 4,550 Palestinian political prisoners are jailed without charge or trial under administrative detention. Administrative detention orders were first introduced to Palestine by the British colonial mandate and were later adopted by the Zionist project to target Palestinians. These orders are issued for up to six months at a time and are indefinitely renewable; consequently, Palestinians are jailed for years at a time without charge, trial or even knowing when or if they will be released.

Over the past 10 years, many Palestinian prisoners have launched individual and collective hunger strikes in protest against administrative detention, with many detainees recognizing that such a struggle is one of the only ways to ensure their release. Hisham Abu Hawash is currently on hunger strike for 127 days against his own imprisonment without charge or trial, which was extended for another four months during his strike.

The Palestinian prisoners’ movement announced its full support for the administrative detainees’ declaration of boycott, calling on human rights and legal institutions to take up their responsibilities to support this confrontation of administrative detention, seeking its end as a policy. The prisoners’ movement stated that the detainees have the support of all Palestinian organizations and that the struggle could escalate to a mass open hunger strike should the occupation refuse the just demands of the detainees.

The announcement of the collective boycott campaign was announced at a press conference on 20 December organized by the Prisoners’ Affairs Commission, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society and Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association.

It follows on the boycott of the military courts announced by Bashir al-Khairy, Palestinian lawyer and longtime leftist leader, who asked his lawyer Mahmoud Hassan not to represent im before the Ofer Military Court. Al-Khairy, 79 years old, has been detained since 29 October 2021 and the Israeli occupation authorities issued an administrative detention order against him for 6 months, until 28 April 2022. The administrative detention order was issued against him after he was previously ordered released by a military court due to his elder age and the dated allegations against him, which included public events and dated back to 2000, 2014 and 2017.

Al-Khairy spent 15 years in Israeli occupation prisons; seized by occupation forces in 1968, he was released in 1984. In a statement, Al-Khairy emphasized, “As a lawyer and a man of law, I view the procedure of transferring me to administrative detention — regardless of its duration — as contradicting the most basic human right to defend oneself and to know the charges laid against him, in contravention of international law…Before these fascist, oppressive courts, so as to preserve my national dignity and convictions, I will boycott and refuse to appear before the military court, and I reject any ruling issued by it.”

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network expresses its strongest solidarity with the action of the administrative detainees to boycott the illegitimate Israeli military courts and bring this unjust and illegal system to an end. We urge supporters of Palestine to organize actions, events and solidarity campaigns to support these boycott actions, including during the Week of Action to Free Ahmad Sa’adat and all Palestinian Prisoners from 15-22 January 2022. Administrative detention — like the entire Israeli prison system — is a colonial weapon intended to target Palestinian resistance and isolate the leaders of the Palestinian people’s struggle. End administrative detention; free all Palestinian prisoners! 

Read the statement of the administrative detainees below (translated from Arabic):

Continuing the determined national efforts to put an end to the unjust practice of administrative detention against the Palestinian people by the occupation forces, and within the framework of intensive consultations conducted by the prisoners’ movement across its full spectrum to organize a large movement, through a program of national struggle in which administrative detainees have participated in all areas, prisons and detention centers,

Continuing the previous steps taken by the administrative detainees to confront this arbitrary policy and unjust detention, and whereas the Israeli military courts are an important part of the occupation’s systemic efforts to suppress all the active forces of our people, to besiege, loot and confiscate every Palestinian right, including the Palestinian right to freedom, these courts are a barbaric racist tool that consumed hundreds of years of the lives of their children. Our people are under the hammer of administrative detention, through farcical sham courts, the results of which have been pre-established by the military commander of the region. This policy is being carried out against children, women, elders, sick and ill people, and the general population.

The cadres and activists of the Palestinian people are imprisoned under flimsy justifications with the goal of breaking the will and consciousness of our people.

Accordingly, we, the Administrative Detainees’ Committee, representing all administrative detainees in the occupation prisons, and in coordination with all of the organizational bodies of the national and Islamic factions, announce the following:

First: Launching our project for a comprehensive boycott of the occupation military courts for administrative detention, starting from the date of 1 January 2022 at all levels (initial, appeal, high court) under the slogan: “We have decided on freedom — no to administrative detention.”

This campaign will launch with coordination with the Prisoners’ Affairs Commission, the Prisoners’ Society and other relevant institutions, a binding and general step, and we call on all legal institutions and lawyers to support us in our step through boycotting these courts in relation to administrative detention, with reference to the legal front of this framework.

Second: We call upon our free and proud Palestinian people in all areas of their presence, their forces and national and Islamic factions, student, labor and professional unions, and various movements to fully prepare to support our project as a national project that aims to repel the attack of the occupier and lift its oppressive hand of administrative arrest, which now targets any popular movement, expression or position opposing the occupation.

Third: What our people can do through their united struggle, formulating a comprehensive program of support, is what can guarantee victory for any battle, including what can be done through the media and social media, and pursuing all legal and media routes, in addition to highlighting this project in all national and popular movements with your effective support.

Fourth: Our message to all free peoples and democratic forces of the world, to all nations of the world and international and human rights institutions: Support our just cause, stop the guillotine of administrative detention on our necks, and besiege the occupier and its officers and judges of death in its unjust military courts.

Fifth: The project of our comprehensive boycott of the courts begins in a strategic form, in which we will build upon all efforts that have been made over the years and over the coming months, preparing towards a collective open hunger strike in the event that the occupier does not respond to our just demands in accordance with the norms of international law.

Our decision is freedom — no to administrative detention!

Administrative Detainees’ Committee

20 December 2021