Court rules against Palestinian hunger strikers (JERUSALEM POST) By JOANNA PARASZCZUK 05/07/12)
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The High Court of Justice rejected on Monday petitions by two hunger-
striking Palestinian security prisoners to overturn a military court
ruling to extend their administrative detention.
Petitioners Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahleh, both of whom are suspected
of extensive involvement in terror groups, have been on hunger strike
for 71 days in protest against the military court of appeals decision
to extend their detention, and against the length of time they have
been held without charge.
In a unanimous ruling, Justices Elyakim Rubinstein, Yoram Danziger
and Noam Sohlberg said they found no reason to intervene in the
military court ruling to extend both prisoners´ administrative
Rubinstein said hunger strikes should not be the single factor in any
military court ruling regarding whether to impose or extend
However, Rubinstein criticized the security authorities for holding
the detainees without interrogating them on certain issues relating
to their arrest.
Rubinstein added that the administrative detentions ought to be
shorter in order to allow for more frequent judicial review.
Halahleh has been in administrative detention since June 28, 2010.
The military court extended that detention for a further three months
on February 27.
Diab has been in administrative detention since August 16, 2011,
which the military court extended by six months on February 7. He is
currently hospitalized in the Assaf Harofeh hospital, where he is
conscious but refusing to take fluids, the court noted.
Attorneys Jawad Boulos and Jamil Khatib, for the prisoners, argued in
the High Court petition that administrative detention is a draconian
They also contended that the state refuses to allow detainees´
lawyers access to classified intelligence material about their
clients, which they said prevents attorneys from formulating a proper
defense in military court administrative detention hearings.
In the ruling, Rubinstein said that revealing classified intelligence
material about an administrative detainee could harm those who
collected it, or their methods of doing so.
It was right, therefore, that the courts should be the body
designated to examine that material, Rubinstein said.
However, the justice added with caution that perhaps there was room
to examine the idea of having a ´trusted´ lawyer with a security
clearance to double-check the classified material.
Such a lawyer could be a retired judge or senior public servant,
In the ruling, Rubinstein noted that classified information and
military court rulings regarding both prisoners showed that they had
been active in terror group Islamic Jihad.
Regarding Halahleh, the court noted that he has served previous
prison terms for security offenses. The security services presented
classified material to the military court that said a substantial
part of his alleged activity in Islamic Jihad had been transferring
funds, including from overseas, to finance the terror group´s
Military court judges had written in their rulings to extend
Halahleh´s detention that his activities in Islamic Jihad were
serious and posed a real security threat, Rubinstein noted.
An April 23 military court ruling regarding Halahleh said that his
hunger strike did not affect any assessment of his dangerousness, and
that "it could be estimated with a high degree of certainty that, if
released, he would endanger regional security."
For that reason the court held that there was "no reason to intervene
in the current extension" of Halahleh´s administrative detention.
In the petition, Halahleh´s attorney, Jamil Khatib, argued that the
authorities had not taken into consideration to the amount of time
his client had been in detention and have not conducted any
additional investigations into his case.
In the ruling, the justices noted that Halahleh had had been in
administrative detention for nearly two years.
"Even regardless of the hunger strike, this justifies a senior-level
discussion on the matter about whether to request another extension
[to the detention] or whether there are better alternatives,"
If the authorities deemed that extending Halahleh´s administrative
detention was warranted, Rubinstein said, they must undertake a "more
serious" interrogation into his case.
The state alleges that the second prisoner, Diab, is an active member
of Islamic Jihad, and had acted as a senior leader in the terror
group, with ties to Gaza and overseas - particularly regarding the
organization´s funding, the justices said.
Diab had previously been imprisoned from 2003-2010 for security
offenses, the state noted.
Classified information presented to the court also indicated that
Diab had access to weaponry and showed "a willingness for military
In its ruling to extend Diab´s detention, the military court said his
activities had been "a dangerous part of a radical terror group". The
court found that Diab´s hunger strike did not justify releasing him
from administrative detention.
However, Rubinstein criticized the fact that the security services
had not yet interrogated Diab about his alleged access to weaponry.
"We believe, regardless of the hunger strike, that in the face of the
intelligence gathered after Diab´s arrest, he should be interrogated
on this issue, as far as his medical situation allows," Rubinstein
The justices added that, in their opinion, since the primary
suspicion against Diab was terror financing, as a rule administrative
detention should be for periods shorter than six months, to allow
more frequent judicial review of the case.
With regard to the petitioners´ medical situation, Rubinstein also
said that, even though it did not formally apply in this case, it was
worth reviewing the Conditional Release Law, which states that it is
possible to release a prisoner on conditional bail if his stay in
prison poses a significant risk to his life.
In response to the court´s decision, the petitioners´ lawyer, Boulos
said that on the margins of their ruling, the High Court justices
had "dealt for the first time with the issue of the provisions of
administrative detention, particularly with respect to classified
material and prisoners´ medical conditions."
Physicians for Human Rights, who treated the two petitioners, slammed
the ruling, calling it "the effective equivalent of handing down a
The human rights group said there are 320 Palestinians held in
"The judges are tightening their hold on administrative detainees,
which, due to the absence of concrete evidence, the inability of the
detainee to defend himself in court and the unlimited renewal of
his/her detention term, constitutes a full negation of liberties and
human freedom," a spokesman for the group said.
Later on Thursday, Islamic Jihad threatened that Israel would "bear
the full consequences" of the court ruling, dubbing it "a decision to
execute the two prisoners, after the enemy´s frantic efforts to break
their resolve and end their heroic battle," according to the Gaza-
based Felesteen news site. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 05/07/12)
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