An Israeli citizen is being held in administrative detention

An IDF legal advisor lies to a Knesset oversight committee, says no administrative detention orders were issued against anyone in Israel. It turns out not only did Defense Minister Ya’alon sign one such order, he forbade the detained Israeli citizen from seeing a lawyer.

By Noam Rotem (translated from Hebrew by Yossi Gurvitz)

Israel’s Ayalon Prison, (Illustrative photo by Activestills.org)
Israel’s Ayalon Prison, (Illustrative photo by Activestills.org)

Two days ago, the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee held an urgent hearing about the administrative restraining orders issued by the head of the Central Command (the IDF command responsible for the West Bank, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv coastal plain). During the lively debate, committee chairman MK David Rotem asked, “Was an administrative detention order issued against anyone in the State of Israel?”, to which the Central Command’s legal counsel replied, “No, no, no, no, no!” You can find a video of the hearing on the Knesset’s website. Unfortunately, it seems the IDF did not tell the Knesset the whole truth.

Screencapture from the Knesset video. From right to left: chief of staff of the Judea and Samaria Region, legal counsel to Central Command, representative of the Justice Ministry.
Screencapture from the Knesset video. From right to left: chief of staff of the Judea and Samaria Region, legal counsel to Central Command, representative of the Justice Ministry.

A reasonable person hearing those words would understand them to mean that Israel does not issue administrative detention orders against its own citizens. Such orders allow the government to incarcerate any person without due process, without the need to present evidence, and without the citizen being able to defend himself against these accusations – which often remain secret themselves. Why, then, would the bodies entrusted with denying a person’s liberty testify before the legislature that no such orders were issued against Israeli citizens, at the same time as an Israeli civilian has been held in Meggido Prison under an administrative detention order for three months?

Khaled Jamal Daoud is a young Israeli citizen who is the son of an Israeli mother and a Palestinian father, holds a blue Israeli ID card and who for the past few years has lived in Qalqiliya. In November 2013, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon signed an administrative order for his detention. Ya’alon also ordered that he be prevented from meeting an attorney. Nevertheless, one legal organization is claiming that its attorneys visited Daoud at least once. A Facebook page called “The news about Palestinian prisoners under occupation” published a laconic status update about the issue, which garnered two “likes.” Until yesterday, that was all that was published. An Israeli citizen was detained without trial three months ago, and nobody knew about it.

I’ll emphasize that aside from the general rubric of “security activity,” I don’t know why Daoud was detained; this is, however, immaterial. The very fact that an Israeli civilian is being held under administrative detention is important enough, worthy enough of a short report in the Israeli media. That did not happen until yesterday, when Walla reporter Amir Bukhbut published (Hebrew) a short report.

When the bodies empowered with these detentions — which are supposed to be under the oversight of four different bodies — sit in a Knesset committee and feed it misinformation about such a sensitive subject, we have a real problem on our hands. Administrative detention is the ultimate tool, to be used only when the state is willing to give up the rule of law for the sake of “security,” and must be under a strict oversight of all the legal institutes of the country. We cannot tolerate a situation in which citizens “disappear” and certain authorities hold back this information from other authorities and from the public. This is a red line that must not be crossed, even under a “state of emergency,” one we’ve been living in for 66 years. And it is yet another red line crossed on our way to losing the few remnants of the rule of law that are left.

Noam Rotem is an Israeli activist, high-tech executive and author of the blog o139.org, subtitled “Godwin doesn’t live here any more.” This piece was first published in Hebrew.

Related:
Administrative arrests: Months or years without due process
‘Prisoner X’ and the security elite’s unchecked power
Israel admits: Administrative detention unnecessary