Israel must end abusive practice of administrative detention and ensure humane treatment of hunger strikers

The ICJ today called upon the Israeli authorities to end the abusive practice of administrative detentions of Palestinians held in Israel.

Israel must also ensure that those who are on hunger strike have full access to appropriate medical assistance and are treated humanely, the ICJ said.

Over the last months, more than 1,500 Palestinian administrative detainees, pre-trial detainees and convicted prisoners have gone on hunger strike to challenge the conditions of their detention, including the use of solitary confinement, restrictions on family visits and other punitive measures taken against them.

The ICJ stresses that Palestinian detainees and prisoners have been regularly denied their right to have contact and correspond with and be visited by members of their families.

Their rights to have regular access to independent doctors and to their lawyers have also been systematically denied.

“Under international law, administrative detention is unlawful, except in narrow circumstances as an exceptional and temporary measure.  However, Israel has routinely resorted to unlawful prolonged administrative detention of individuals from the Occupied Palestinian Territory, sometimes as an alternative to criminal proceedings,” said Saïd Benarbia, Senior Legal Adviser for the Middle East and North Africa Programme. “Israeli authorities must comply with their obligations under international law and fully guarantee the rights of persons arrested or imprisoned without charge to the presumption of innocence, medical assistance, communication with family members and full and unrestricted access to a legal counsel.”

The ICJ is also gravely concerned that detainees on hunger strikes have been allegedly subjected to various forms of coercion that may amount to ill-treatment under international law, including shackling, solitary confinement, daily fines, and forced medical treatment.

Bilal Diab, Thaer Halahlah, Hassen El-Safadi, Omar Abu Shalal, Jafar Izz El-Din and Mahmoud Sarsaq, held in Israel under administrative detention orders, have been on extended hunger strike for more than two months and have seen their health conditions seriously deteriorate, the ICJ deplores.

“The Israeli Authorities must immediately end all forms of psychological and ill-treatment of hunger strikers, guarantee their rights to have full access to independent doctors and appropriate medical care, and ensure they are treated humanely in all circumstances,” Benarbia added. “Unless these detainees are charged with internationally recognizsable criminal offenses, they must be immediately and unconditionally released.”


Saïd Benarbia, Middle East & North Africa Senior Legal Adviser, T +41 22 979 3817

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