BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Ahead of a hearing to renew the administrative detention of Palestinian journalist and activist Hassan Safadi, human rights group Amnesty International condemned on Monday the latest example of Israel’s “long-standing attacks on Palestinian human rights defenders.”
Israeli forces detained Safadi -- who works as a media coordinator for prisoners rights group Addameer -- as he crossed the Allenby Bridge between the occupied West Bank and Jordan in May, keeping him under Israeli military interrogation for forty days.
Israeli authorities sentenced the 25-year-old Palestinian to six months of administrative detention -- internment without trial or charges -- in June
, on the same day that his parents paid a 2,500-shekel ($650) bail for his release.
Safadi’s administrative detention was extended by another six months on Dec. 7, Amnesty reported, with a court hearing scheduled for Dec. 23 to confirm the extension.
According to Amnesty, Safadi was also sentenced in October to three months in prison for visiting an “enemy country” -- Lebanon -- where he had attended a conference on justice, accountability, and prisoners’ rights.
While Lebanon legally forbids entry to individuals who have traveled to Israel, it is not officially illegal to enter Israel with a passport stamped by Lebanon.
In its statement, Amnesty called on Israeli authorities to “release Hassan Ghassan Ghalid Safadi, and all other administrative detainees, unless they are to be charged with recognizable criminal offences and tried fairly and promptly,” and to “end their long-standing attacks on Palestinian human rights defenders and halt the harassment and intimidation of human rights defenders in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.”
Amnesty also urged for an investigation into Safadi’s allegations that he was subjected to sleep deprivation and “stress positions” during his interrogation -- amounting to torture -- as well as denied access to a lawyer for the first 10 days of his detention.
Israel’s widely-condemned policy of administrative detention allows internment without charge or trial in maximum six-month long renewable intervals based on undisclosed evidence that even a detainee’s lawyer is barred from viewing.
Rights groups have claimed that Israel's detention policy has been used as an attempt to disrupt Palestinian political processes, notably targeting Palestinian politicians, activists, and journalists.
Israeli authorities have carried out a concerted crackdown on Palestinian journalists and human rights activists since a wave of violence erupted in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory in October 2015, with several dozen Palestinian journalists being detained by Israeli forces during that time period.
According to Addameer, 720 Palestinians were held in administrative detention as of October, including three Palestinian parliament members.