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UN experts call on Israel to release 5 hunger strikers or bring them to trial and stop administrative detention 

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News briefing 

Translated and edited by: Committee for Justice 

Geneva: October 24, 2021 

UN experts have expressed their grave concerns about the lives of five Palestinians who are on hunger strike in Israeli prisons, calling on Israel to either release them or charge them, and to end its illegal unlawful practice of administrative detention. 

Administrative detention is arbitrary detention: 

“In violation of international law, Israel continues to use administrative detention to imprison more than 500 Palestinians – including six children – without charges, without trials, without convictions, all based on classified secret information that the detainees have no access to,” the experts said in a statement published by the Media Center of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. “They have no recourse to challenging these undisclosed allegations, and they do not know when, or if, they are going to be released.”  

The experts pointed out that the Israeli authorities have used administrative detention as a frequent means of political control since the beginning of its occupation of the Palestinian territories in 1967, which enables the Israeli army to detain Palestinian detainees for a long period (six months, renewable and indefinitely). While Judicial review is available, it is conducted before an Israeli military judge, where minimum international standards of rights, evidence and fairness of procedure do not apply. Successful appeals to administrative detention orders are extremely rare, a practice first used by the British Mandate administration in Palestine in the 1930s. 

“These practices would appear to be arbitrary detention, which is strictly prohibited under international law, including international humanitarian law”, added the experts. “And the arbitrary detention of children is particularly abhorrent, violating the minimum standards established by the Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

The five hunger strikers are in imminent danger:

In their statement, the experts explained that the five hunger strikers, all men in their twenties and thirties, had been refusing food for between 58 and 99 days in protest of their administrative detention for months or even years at a time. 

Experts stated that two of the prisoners, Kayed Al-Fasous and iqdad Al-Qawasameh, are facing imminent death. Al-Fasous, who was previously held in harsh conditions in solitary confinement, is now in Barzilai Hospital. Al-Qawasameh, was transferred to Kaplan Hospital after his health deteriorated, and he has been in intensive care there since October 19.   

The experts confirmed that although the Israeli High Court of Justice suspended the administrative detention orders issued against Al-Qawasameh and “Al-Fasous on October 7 and October 14, this suspension does not mean their release. They decided to continue their strike despite their poor health condition. 

The experts pointed out that two others, Alaa Al-Araj, and Hisham Ismail Abu Hawash were transferred, on October 19, to Israeli hospitals after their health deteriorated, and the fifth, Shadi Abu Aka, is currently in the Ramle prison clinic. 

UN calls to stop administrative detention: 

According to the experts, under the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, the occupying power ‘is not permitted to transfer prisoners from the occupied territory to detention centres in its territory. The United Nations has regularly observed that Israel is in violation of this legal duty, and has called upon it to comply with its obligation, but to no avail.’ 

“As we have done many times before, we once again call on Israel either to charge and try, or release, all of the administrative detainees. In international law, administrative detention is permitted only in exceptional circumstances, and only for short periods of time. Israel’s practices exceed all of the international legal boundaries,” the experts said. 

The experts also called on Israel to end its harsh detention conditions for Palestinian prisoners. In particular, he imposed solitary confinement on detainees who had already been weakened by months of hunger strikes, stressing that all this must stop immediately. 

The experts also called on Israel to end its harsh detention conditions for Palestinian prisoners. In particular, the imposed solitary confinement on detainees who had already been weakened by months of hunger strikes, stressing that all of this must stop immediately. 

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