Palestinian Administrative Detainees Declare Boycott of Israeli Military Courts
In 2021, the Israeli occupation and apartheid regime deployed extraordinary violence against the Palestinian people, a key feature of which has been the expansion of the mass arbitrary arrests and detention of Palestinian men, women, and children. Under this carceral framework, Israeli occupation authorities have particularly increased their reliance on administrative detention, a procedure in which detainees are held without charge or trial based on “secret information” for an indefinite time. By the end of 2021, the Israeli military commander in the West Bank region issued 1595 administrative detention orders, including the renewal of previous orders and issuing new ones.
The Israeli occupation has increasingly employed administrative detention as an arbitrary, coercive, and punitive measure of torture against hundreds of Palestinian detainees. Such expansion comes amid and in parallel with the Israeli occupation and apartheid regime’s systematic harassment campaign against Palestinian civil society, most recently with the criminalization of six leading Palestinian civil society organizations (CSOs) in October 2021. Throughout, the Israeli military judicial system plays an integral role in facilitating the expansion of administrative detention, and more broadly, in sustaining and feeding the establishment of a comprehensive Israeli apartheid apparatus over the occupied territories.
Israeli occupation authorities increasingly rely on administrative detention to muzzle Palestinian human rights defenders, student and political activists, and target children. Often, administrative detention is leveraged to punish Palestinians undertaking outstanding hunger strikes in protest of their administrative detention, including Hisham Abu Hawash, or to harass further and coerce released Palestinian political prisoners, as is the most recent case with lawyer Bashir Khairi. In 2021, six Palestinian children, three Palestinian women, and eight Palestinian Legislative Council members were held under administrative detention.
On 20 December 2021, Palestinian administrative detainees, 500 in total, announced their collective and comprehensive boycott of Israeli military courts, to begin 1 January 2022, under the campaign ‘Our Decision is Freedom… No to Administrative Detention.‘ This comes in light of the developments mentioned above, which represent a dangerous approach by the Israeli occupation to repress all facets of Palestinian life and struggle for liberty. The boycott includes Israeli military courts at all levels, including courts of first instance, appellate courts, and the Israeli civil High Court. Accordingly, Palestinian administrative detainees will refuse to participate in court procedures and hearings; their legal counsel will no longer attend or participate in the court procedures on their behalf.
The illegality of Israeli military courts goes beyond serious violations of the right to a fair trial—the basis of their establishment and jurisdiction itself is a grave breach of international standards and principles. The Israeli military judicial system is also inherently bound up with the use of ill-treatment and torture against Palestinians, especially during the interrogation process.
Seeking to better the fair trial standards in Israeli military courts is redundant; all efforts should be made to end the trial of Palestinian civilians in Israeli military courts and abolish the Israeli occupation itself. The international community must end its continuous silence and hold the Israeli occupation accountable for the various grave breaches of international human rights and humanitarian law. Such actions are imperative to maintain international peace and justice for the sake of the Palestinian people, including Palestinian political prisoners, the quest for liberty, justice, and dignity.
 The letter and call to action written by Palestinian administrative detainees in Israeli occupation prisons is attached above.