Israel routinely holds Palestinians under arrest without going through due process, Amnesty International claimed in a recently published report. The report, titled "Starved of justice: Palestinians detained without trial by Israel," states that Palestinian prisoners are subjected to torture and mistreatment, denied visitation by family members and are held indefinitely. Many times these actions are taken as a response to hunger strikes or other forms of protest held by prisoners.
"For decades, Amnesty International has urged Israel to end the practice of administrative detention and to release detainees or charge them with a criminal offence and try them according to international standards," Ann Harrison, Amnesty International’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, said on the organization's website.
On the opposite side of the political spectrum are NGOs claiming that the Amnesty report is one-sided, and ignores the extreme circumstances that lead to these detentions. “Amnesty’s report is based on the ideological backgrounds of two researchers who comprise its Middle East department, Deborah Hyams and Saleh Hijazi — individuals with clear activist backgrounds,” says Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor. “This is a violation of Amnesty's claimed core value of ‘Impartiality.’”
“Hyams has volunteered as a ‘human shield’ in Beit Jala (near Bethlehem) to deter Israeli military responses to gunfire and mortars targeting Jewish civilians in Jerusalem,” adds Steinberg. “In 2008 she signed a letter claiming Israel is 'a state founded on terrorism, massacres and the dispossession of another people from their land. And Hijazi, a Palestinian born in Jerusalem and raised in Ramallah, worked as a Public Relations official for the Office of the Ministry of Planning in Ramallah, and in 2007 was listed as contact for the NGO ‘Another Voice’ — under the group's signature "Resist! Boycott! We Are Intifada!'”
Steinberg illuminates further connections between Amnesty International and other left-wing NGOs. “This report, which relies heavily on political NGOs such as B’tselem, erases the context of Israeli action, and applies double standards to target Israel. The fact is that administrative detention is a common procedure used by democratic countries around the world, including the U.S. and the U.K. Israel's use of this practice complies with international law — all Palestinian administrative detainees are brought before a judge within a short period of time, and all the evidence is reviewed by the court.”
Amnesty International, which works to end administrative detention worldwide, called on Israel to work according to international laws. "Despite many media reports suggesting that the Israeli authorities had agreed to release administrative detainees at the end of their current orders," Harrison continues, "our information is that it is business as usual when it comes to detention without charge or trial."
“The authorities in Israel have a duty to protect everyone in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories from threats to their lives and physical integrity," acknowledges Harrison. "But they must do so in a manner that respects human rights."