Israel puts Palestinian prisoner advocate in administrative detention

Hasan Safadi placed under administrative detention for six months, after being accused of affiliation with an illegal organization and visiting an enemy state.

Illustrative photo of a prisoner (
Illustrative photo of a prisoner (

Israeli authorities placed a Palestinian prisoners’ rights activist under administrative detention for six months beginning last Friday, 40 days after he was first detained and taken in for interrogation.

Hasan Safadi, who works as media coordinator for Addameer, an NGO that supports Palestinian prisoners in both Israeli and Palestinian prisons, was set to be released from detention on June 10 by order of Jerusalem’s Magistrate’s Court, after paying NIS 2,500 in bail and obtaining third-party guarantees. Later the same day, however, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman signed an administrative detention order against Safadi, effectively overriding the court’s decision.

Administrative detention is a procedure that Israel uses to imprison detainees based on secret evidence, without charging them or allowing them to defend themselves at trial. Administrative detention orders may be renewed indefinitely.

Safadi was first arrested on May 1, 2016 as he was crossing Allenby Bridge from Jordan into the West Bank on his way home from an Arab Youth Conference in Tunisia. From there he was transferred to the Russian Compound interrogation center in Jerusalem.

During his trial, the military prosecution allegedly claimed that Safadi was affiliated with an illegal organization and has visited an enemy state (Lebanon) more than one time. It further claimed that he has conducted illegal activities without specifying exactly what those activities are, and argued that he is affiliated with other Palestinian detainees without identifying the names of said detainees.

According to Addameer, Safadi was subjected to sleep deprivation, long interrogation sessions, and was put in stress positions with his hands tied throughout the interrogations. He was also denied access to an attorney for a period of 10 days, as well as family visitations.

Mohammed Abu Sakha (photo: Courtesy of Addameer)
Mohammed Abu Sakha (photo: Courtesy of Addameer)

On Monday Israeli military authorities also renewed the administrative detention of Palestinian circus trainer and clown Mohammad Abu Sakha for an additional six months, from June 13 to December 12. Abu Sakha is known for working with special needs children in the West Bank, and runs the Palestinian Circus School. He was first arrested on December 14, 2015 while he was crossing Zaatara military checkpoint near Nablus on his way to work in the village of Birzeit, near Ramallah.

According to Abu Sakha’s lawyer, he was barely investigated by the police for general charges, all of which he denied. When asked for comment, the IDF Spokesperson said that “Mohammed Abu Sakha has been under administrative detention since December 14, 2015 for his involvement in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which according to confidential military intelligence that reached the Israeli court, makes him a severe security threat.”

During a hearing in an Israeli military court, Abu Sakha responded to claims the against him: “I am a circus performer. I am a clown. I have traveled around Europe and met with all kinds of people, Palestinians, Israelis, Americans. I have no intention of engaging in violent acts.” A hearing validating his current administrative order is scheduled for June 15, during which a military judge may approve, limit, or cancel the order.

According to Addameer, as of May 2016 there were 715 Palestinians in administrative detention, including three members of the Council.

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