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Palestinian prisoner announces boycott of Israeli military courts

Dec. 3, 2016 10:51 A.M. (Updated: Dec. 15, 2016 7:17 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- A Palestinian held in Israeli prison announced that he would boycott the Israeli military courts after being sentenced to six months of administrative detention -- an Israeli policy of internment without charge or trial based on undisclosed evidence -- according to a statement released Friday by the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS).

PPS said that Muhammad Ahmad al-Najjar, 32, a husband and father of two from the al-Fawwar refugee camp in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, declared the boycott after being sentenced to a six-month sentence in Israeli prison without charge or trial.

Israeli forces detained al-Najjar on Nov. 17 after assaulting and beating him in the face and stomach, according to PPS.

Al-Najjar is a former prisoner and has been detained eight times, spending at least six years in Israeli prisons, PPS said, while also heading a local youth group aimed at supporting Palestinian prisoners.

A long line of Palestinian prisoners before al-Najjar have also boycotted the Israeli military courts in order to challenge the legitimacy of a legal system that many consider to be a violent apparatus of the nearly half-century occupation of the Palestinian territory, routinely shaped by mass detention campaigns and the holding of Palestinian prisoners without charge.

Back in 2012, Ahmad Saadat, the imprisoned general-secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), was one notable Palestinian who refused to acknowledge any legitimacy in the Israeli military court system, as he stated throughout his trial that he did not recognize the court as a legitimate authority in Palestine, and refused to answer the judge's questions.

The Palestinian prisoner solidarity network Samidoun quoted Saadat as saying during his trial that “I will not recognize the legitimacy of this court which is attempting to perpetuate the occupation of our Palestinian land, and is itself one of the fronts of Zionist terrorism against our Palestinian people, and a tool of repression against Palestinian prisoners.”

Meanwhile, Israel’s Ofer military court also sentenced Palestinian prisoner Muhammad Mahmoud Ayyad Awwad, 26, to four months of administrative detention on Friday after he was initially detained by Israeli forces on Nov. 19.

Awwad is also a former prisoner who spent at least six years in Israeli prison, which the prisoner has attributed to the development of his diabetes.

Although Israeli authorities claim the withholding of evidence during administrative detention, which allows detention for three- to six-month renewable intervals based on undisclosed evidence, is essential for state security concerns, rights groups have instead claimed the policy allows Israeli authorities to hold Palestinians for an indefinite period of time without showing any evidence that could justify their detentions.

Rights groups have claimed that Israel's administrative detention policy has been used as an attempt to disrupt Palestinian political and social processes, notably targeting Palestinian politicians, activists, and journalists.

According to prisoners rights group Addameer, 7,000 Palestinians were held in Israeli prisons as of October, 720 of whom were held in administrative detention.

The organization estimates that 40 percent of Palestinian men have been detained by Israel at some point in their lives.

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