A group of 1600 Palestinian prisoners are expected to go on hunger strike today to mark Palestinian Prisoners’ day. They are protesting over the Israeli practice of administrative detention, by which a Palestinian prisoner can be held without charge, and other Israeli detention practices. Most of the 4600 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons have been charged and convicted of offences, but around 300 are held under administrative detention orders. According to the prisoners’ committee that is leading the strike, the hunger strikers will accept saline solution and some vitamins and glucose to sustain themselves. The committee includes members from Fatah, Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, the PFLP and the DFLP.
Mark Regev, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s spokesman, told the Independent that the practice of administrative detention was “unfortunately a necessary tool” in fighting terrorism, and stressed, “[the prisoners] are not vegetarians. Islamic Jihad has a military structure… and believes every citizen in my country is a legitimate target”.
The practice of administrative detention enables the state to hold terror suspects for four-month periods without charge. Evidence to justify the detention is presented to the military judges before approval. Britain, the US and Canada have comparable legal measures to detain terror suspects without charge, where sensitive intelligence sources are involved, and the practice is permitted under international law in some circumstances. The system in Israel has, nonetheless, been challenged by some Israeli jurists who argue that Israel possesses the legal means to bring those suspected to trial, while balancing security concerns.
In related news, Khader Adnan, a senior member of Palestinian Islamic Jihad who went on hunger strike for several weeks at the beginning of the year to protest his administrative detention, was due to be released today according to the agreement which ended his strike in February.