Bilal Kayed was supposed to be released from Israeli prison after serving a nearly 15-year sentence. Instead, he was placed under indefinite detention without charges or trial.
Photos and text by Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org
Palestinian prisoner Bilal Kayed was meant to be released from Israeli prison on Monday after serving 14.5 years. Instead Israeli military authorities decided to put him in administrative detention for a period of six months, which means he will be held indefinitely without charge or trial.
On Tuesday dozens of Palestinians took part in a solidarity protest in the West Bank city of Nablus. Kayed’s detention came as a shock to his family and relatives. “His lawyer called us to say that he will not be released today,” said his brother Mahmoud Kayed, adding that only a few hours later did they discover that he was put in administrative detention.
During the protest the demonstrators chanted against the decision, while raising photos of Kayed along with Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) flags, the leftist Palestinian party to which he belongs.
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.
The family confirmed that their son is planning on starting a hunger strike to protest his administrative detention. According to a statement released by the PFLP on Monday, its members in prison will begin an initial two-day hunger strike in solidarity with Kayed. “The hunger strike is just the beginning in a series of escalating steps to be implemented by all comrades in Zionist prisons and detention centers,” said the statement.
Kayed, 34, has been imprisoned by since December 2001 on charges of membership in the PFLP, as well as participation in activities against the State of Israel. He was 19 years old at the time of his arrest. Kayed is now among 750 Palestinians held in administrative detention without charge or trial.
Last Friday Israeli authorities placed a Palestinian prisoners’ rights activist under administrative detention for six months, 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.
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.