Ref: 115/2020, 02 November 2020
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights follows with grave concern the deteriorating health condition of Maher al-Akhras, as he enters the 99th consecutive day of his open hunger strike in protest to his administrative detention by the Israeli occupation authorities without charge or trial.
PCHR holds the Israeli occupation fully responsible for al-Akhras’ life and stresses that his continued detention is effectively a death sentence, with the collaboration of the Supreme Court of Israel which has, to date, refused four petitions for his release.
PCHR reiterates that al-Akhras was forced to practice his right to go on hunger strike in rejection to the injustice practiced against him, and because he was stripped of all means to access justice within the Israeli authorities, except his own flesh to receive his right to a free and fair trial. Hence, PCHR expresses its concern for the suspicious international silence over al-Akhras’ continued detention, particularly by the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Al-Akhras was arrested on 27 July 2020, and immediately decided to go on an open hunger strike in objection to his administrative detention. He was transferred to Kaplan Medical Center in Israel on 23 September 2020, due to his critically deteriorating health as he began to lose consciousness and develop serious complications. The Israeli occupation offered him demeaning compromises, but he refused them all maintaining his position, “Either freedom or martyrdom.” In the past few days, al-Akhras’ condition got more complicated as he suffers seizures, and severe aches across his body, blurry vision and a severe headache.
On 27 October 2020, the Supreme Court of Israel refused al-Akhras’ lawyer’s latest petition for his release and transfer for treatment at a Palestinian hospital in the West Bank. The Court had previously refused petitions for al-Akhras’ release, the first of which was on 23 September 2020, the second was on 01 October 2020, and they were both denied for trivial reasons. On 12 October 2020, the Court refused the petition, adding conditions for the non-renewal of al-Akhras’ administrative detention. This was a crucially serious precedent, which set the automatic renewal of administrative decisions as the norm, as the Court decision stated that: “We suggested that the current administrative detention order be effective from 27 July 2020 – 26 November 2020 without renewal, provided that the petitioner immediately ends his hunger strike, unless new information on the expected danger of the petitioner is presented, or if changes occur in a manner that intensifies the threat of releasing the petitioner.”
Administrative detention is practiced by the Israeli occupation authorities under Article (273) of Military Order No. 1651. According to the Military Order, which is based on the 1945 British Mandate-era Emergency Regulations, occupation authorities may arrest whoever they want without charge or trial. The detention is based on information provided by an Israeli intelligence officer in the area, and it is not disclosed in the court, nor is it given to the detainee or their lawyer under pretext that is it confidential. The Israeli Military Judge is the only person who can view this information. Consequently, the defendant is effectively denied their right to defense, since there is no charge to refute, and the lawyer cannot provide counter arguments.
PCHR notes here that it has sent an urgent appeal to Mr. Michael Lynk, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967; and Prof. Nils Melzer, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; and Mr. José Guevara Bermúdez, Vice-Chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, to demand their immediate and urgent intervention for al-Akhras’ release.
PCHR expresses its grave concern over the continued administrative detention of al-Akhras and the suspicious international silence and holds Israel fully responsible for his life and safety. PCHR reiterates that the Israeli occupation’s policy and systematic disregard for international law shall only reap shame, whether with its continued adoption of the administrative detention policy or for al-Akhras’ particular case, especially under wide international condemnation for his continued detention by the majority of United Nations and international organizations.
PCHR condemns the Israeli authorities’ continued detention of al-Akhras despite his frail health and recalls its call upon the international community and the free people of the world and all UN human rights bodies and mechanisms to work for the immediate release of Palestinian detainee, Maher al-Akhras.
Lastly, PCHR calls upon the international community to pressure Israel to end the use of administrative detention and abolish it from its legislations and to release all administrative detainees in Israeli prisons.