(JNi.media) Five administrative detainees in Ketziot Prison in the Negev desert, some 45 miles south-west of Beer Sheva, on Monday started a hunger strike, according to the Israeli Prison Service. Palestinian media reported that five are members of the Islamic Jihad, and that they have been on a hunger strike for 11 days already. However, the IPS insists they only began their strike on Sunday morning this week. The five detainees are protesting their imprisonment without a trial.
Administrative detention is the arrest and confinement of individuals by the state without trial, usually for security reasons. A large number of countries, both democratic and undemocratic, resort to administrative detention as a means of combating terrorism, fighting illegal immigration, or to stifle political opposition.
Many inside Israel suggest it is one of the democracies which utilize imprisonment without trial to all three ends. The legal basis for Israel’s use of Administrative Detention is the British Mandate 1945 Defense (Emergency) Regulations which were amended in 1979 to form the Israeli Law on Authority in States of Emergency. Administrative detention is most often used for the indefinite detention of Palestinian prisoners—the ratio is about 20-1 compared with Jewish detainees. It is also used in cases where the available evidence consists of information obtained by the security services (Shin Bet), and where a trial would reveal sensitive security information, such as the identities of informers or infiltrators.
Recently there has been a significant increase in the number of Jewish detainees, although in most of these cases the detention is in the form of house arrest, or prohibition to enter Judea and Samaria and to associate with other Jewish detainees.
Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court quashed the administrative detention order issued against Muhammad Alan, a Palestinian lawyer who maintained a hunger strike of some 65 days in protest at being held in prison without trial. The decision of a panel of three High Court justices determined that Alan’s serious medical condition, a consequence of his hunger strike, was cause to suspend his arrest warrant.
Alan, who also belongs to the Islamic Jihad, has since ended his hunger strike, but told the Hamas journal “Al-Risala” that, should he be re-arrested, he’d start a new hunger strike again, “until the end of the tragedy of the thousands of prisoners in the jails of the occupation.”
Before being detained, Alan spent three years in jail on the charge of recruiting a suicide bomber.