Israel’s illegal administrative detention of non-violent Palestinian activist

by Yaniv Reich on November 24, 2009

Many Israelis and Americans believe that Palestinian resistance to occupation is synonymous with terrorism. But putting aside the prejudice inherent in marking an entire, heterogeneous population of millions as inherently violent, this belief also happens to be categorically and demonstrably wrong. There has always been—and there continues to be—non-violent Palestinian resistance on a daily basis. Unfortunately, our typical news sources do a mostly catastrophic and inexcusable job of sharing this information with the American and Israeli public.

Next time you hear some self-proclaimed Middle East expert babbling on about the need for non-violent Palestinian leaders, you should remember Mohammad Othman, human rights activist and BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) advocate, who currently resides in Israeli prison under “administrative detention” despite having never been charged with anything. Following a speaking engagement in Norway, he was arrested by Israel and held for 61 days through military order. He has undergone continuous and extensive interrogations since his arrest. Yesterday, the Military Court of Appeals ruled that insufficient evidence had been collected in two months to hold him any longer and that he must be released immediately… or given “administrative detention”.

Less than 24 hours later, and Mohammad Othman was given a three-month administrative detention order.

What is administrative detention? According to B’tselem (cited in Mondoweiss):

Administrative detention is detention without charge or trial, authorized by administrative order rather than by judicial decree. It is allowed under international law, but, because of the serious injury to due process rights inherent in this measure and the obvious danger of abuse, international law has placed rigid restrictions on its application. Administrative detention is intended to prevent the danger posed to state security by a particular individual. Israel, however, has never defined the criteria for what constitutes “state security.”

How does Israel justify the continued detention of Othman on the grounds of “state security”? Is it because of his leadership of the protest movement against the apartheid wall? Is it because of his vocal support for the BDS movement?

If you would like these questions to be raised by, say, the US Consulate in Jerusalem, click here and scan to the bottom of the page.

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