Palestinian journalist to remain in admin detention, Israeli army decides

Omar Nazzal has spent seven consecutive months in detention with no charges, a formal indictment or a scheduled court hearing.

A photo of Omar Nazzal from a demonstration calling for his release. (Flash90)
A photo of Omar Nazzal from a demonstration calling for his release. (Flash90)

The Israeli army extended the administrative detention of Palestinian journalist Omar Nazzal for the third straight time on Monday for a period of three months. Nazzal was first arrested in April and has spent a total of seven consecutive months in detention with no charges, a formal indictment or a scheduled court hearing.

Nazzal was first detained in April at Allenby Bridge while trying to leave the West Bank en route to an international conference.

The Israeli army and Shin Bet Security Service claim that he is affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which Israel views as a terrorist organization. Nazzal denies the charge and demands either to be sentenced or released. According to his lawyer, Nazzal was jailed by Israel for criticizing the Palestinian Authority over its handling of an assassination at its embassy in Bulgaria.

Administrative detention is an extreme measure meant to be adopted rarely and with moderation. Administrative detainees are held indefinitely without charge or trial — without any way to defend themselves.

Journalists’ associations worldwide have condemned Nazzal’s detention and called for his imminent release. In response to the army’s decision, Phillipe Leruth, the president of the International Federation of Journalists, said that “Israel’s policy of administrative detention is a violation of human rights, of the right to a fair trial, and the presumption of innocence. We are very disturbed by the fact that Israeli authorities continue with this policy and extends it without limits.”

Palestinians living in Israel and Israeli activists protest outside Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, June 5, 2014. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)
Palestinians living in Israel and Israeli activists protest outside Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, June 5, 2014. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Meanwhile two Palestinian men being held by Israel under administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial, have reached a life-threatening stage in their hunger strikes.

Ahmad Abu Farah, 29, and Anas Shadid, 20, have been on hunger strike for 61 and 58 days, respectively, in protest of being held without charge or trial. They are both hospitalized at Asaf Harofeh Medical Center in central Israel, and are both in serious condition, according to Atty. Ahlam Hadad.

On Monday, the Israeli High Court of Justice ordered the pair’s administrative detention orders frozen as long as their medical condition remains serious, but the two say they are continuing their hunger strikes until the detention orders are canceled entirely.

Administrative detention is intended for only the most extreme and rare of circumstances because it violates the most basic right to defend oneself against accusations leveled by the state. Nevertheless, Israel is currently imprisoning roughly 700 Palestinians in administrative detention.

This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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