Israel Resumes Holding Palestinian Minors in Administrative Detention

As of October 2015, Israel resumed holding Palestinian minors in administrative detention – a measure not implemented since December 2011. According to figures obtained by B’Tselem from the Israel Prison Service (IPS), the number of Palestinian minors held in administrative detention rose steadily, from 4 in October to 13 by the end of April 2016. At the end of June, 8 minors were still being held in administrative detention by the IPS, presumably all of them Palestinians. B’Tselem is still awaiting figures from the IPS for the month of May.

A Palestinian mother together with her minor son being held by Israel in administrative detention (Photo: B'Tselem)

A Palestinian mother together with her minor son being held by Israel in administrative detention (Photo: B’Tselem)

Administrative detention is imprisonment without indictment or trial, authorized by an administrative order rather than by judicial ruling. According to international law, administrative detention can only be used in the most extreme cases, as a last resort to avert danger that cannot be prevented by less drastic means (“a ticking bomb”). Israel’s use of administrative detention blatantly violates the restrictions of international law. Although administrative detainees are brought before judicial review for authorization of the detention warrant, in the vast majority of cases most of the material the prosecution submits to the judge is classified. As a result, neither the detainees nor their counsel are granted access to the material, so they don’t even know what evidence, if any, there is against them and therefore cannot mount a proper defense. Furthermore, administrative detainees are not even informed what allegations have been brought against them, nor do they know when to expect release. While each individual administrative detention order has an upper limit of six months, detentions can be extended indefinitely by issuing unlimited additional six month periods.

The authorities also take advantage of the classified nature of the procedure to lock up individuals suspected of wrongdoing as an alternative to going through a trial in which they would be forced to disclose evidence they do not wish to reveal. They do so even though administrative detention is only recognized by international law as a preventative measure, meant to forestall a future danger. The growing number of detainees, and specifically the renewed and increasing use of administrative detention against minors, constitute even harsher abuse of this measure by Israel than that witnessed recent years.