Israel: Release Amal Nakhleh and stop arbitrarily detaining Palestinians


The Israeli authorities must immediately release Amal Nakhleh, who was arrested aged 17 and has since been held without charge or trial for 16 months, and end their use of administrative detention against Palestinians, Amnesty International said today ahead of an upcoming hearing on his case.

Amal Nakhleh has been detained since 21 January 2021 on the basis of secret evidence reviewed in military courts. His detention forms part of the Israeli authorities’ widespread and systematic use of arbitrary arrest, administrative detention and torture against Palestinians, including children.

These acts of repression, which are part of Israel’s policy of domination and control over the Palestinian population, are flagrant violations of the country’s obligations under international human rights law, and constitute the crime against humanity of apartheid.

“The experience of Amal Nakhleh and his family is emblematic of how Palestinians experience life under Israel’s apartheid. Israel uses administrative detention against Palestinians to maintain this cruel system, which privileges Jewish Israelis and denies Palestinians their basic rights,” said Saleh Higazi, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“Amal Nakhleh must be immediately released. The authorities must end their repression of Palestinians, and the international community must ensure that Israel is held accountable for the crime against humanity of apartheid.”

On 25 January 2021, an Israeli military court judge approved a six-month administrative detention order against Amal Nakhleh on the basis of information that was not shared with his lawyer or family. After his lawyer appealed, the sentence was reduced to four months. Since then, Israeli military court judges have approved three additional four-month administrative detention orders. The latest detention order, issued on 13 January 2022, is due to expire on 13 May 2022, but could be renewed for a fifth time, as there is no limit to how many times administrative detentions can be extended. Israel’s military courts consistently fail to meet international fair trial standards.

Amal Nakhleh’s father told Amnesty International: “We are on edge. There could be a detention renewal order at any minute, up until the last moment, like it happened last time. It feels like a game of nerves. They gave us a visiting date to see Amal in prison on 18 May. But that’s not where we want to see him. We want to see him at home.”

Amal Nakhleh is currently being held in Ofer Prison in the occupied West Bank. If his detention order is not renewed, he could return home by 17 May 2022.

Amnesty International is calling on the Israeli authorities to release Nakhleh and other Palestinians held in administrative detention as a first step towards ending the crime against humanity of apartheid.

Amal Nakhleh suffers from myasthenia gravis, a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disorder that causes muscle weakness, affecting breathing and swallowing. His condition requires continuous medical treatment, and his symptoms are aggravated by tiredness and stress.

His father added: “Amal is not well. He can barely swallow or speak. When I last saw him in February, he asked me: ‘Dad, do you think they’ll let me out?’ What could I tell him? What is our analysis of a system that is arbitrary, cruel and punishing?”

“The Israeli government must immediately release Amal Nakhleh so that he can return to his education and receive the medical care he needs. Keeping him detained in these appalling conditions amounts to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,” said Saleh Higazi.

Background

On 15 December 2021, the UN Human Rights Council’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued an opinion on Amal Nakhleh’s case, which determined that his detention was arbitrary on several grounds. The Israeli government did not cooperate with the UN group, despite repeated calls to do so.

Israel is currently holding at least 550 Palestinians in administrative detention, according to Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer. The detainees have protested against Israel’s use of military courts.   

On 7 March 2022, Salah Hammouri, a human rights defender and lawyer for Addameer, which has been labelled a “terrorist” organization by the Israeli minister of defence as part of an attack on the Palestinian civil society, was placed under administrative detention for three months.

In March 2022, the UN Human Rights Committee called on Israel to “immediately put an end to the widespread practice of arbitrary arrests and detention, including administrative detention, of Palestinians, in particular children.” It also stressed that Palestinian detainees, including those held in administrative detention, should be provided with all legal and procedural safeguards, including the right to be informed of the reason for their arrest and detention, granted access to legal counsel and brought promptly before a judge.

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