BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- A Palestinian citizen of Israel held in administrative detention -- internment without charge or trial -- had his six-month detention order extended for an additional three months last week by ultra-right Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Israeli media reported on Tuesday.
Administrative detention is almost exclusively used against Palestinians from the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Muhammad Khalid Ibrahim, 20, is one of only two Israeli citizens held under the policy, according to Israel Prison Service (IPS) data cited in Israeli media.
Israeli news outlet Ynet reported that Ibrahim was ordered to six months of administrative detention on June 6, which was renewed by Lieberman last week. Ibrahim is reportedly a computer technician from the village of Kabul in the Galilee region of northern Israel.
The widely condemned Israeli policy allows for a detainee to be sentenced for up to six-month renewable intervals based on undisclosed evidence.
According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, 720 Palestinians were held in administrative detention as of October, while the group also reported that 70 Palestinians from the “1948 territories” (Palestinian citizens of Israel) were being held in Israeli custody as political prisoners after being formally charged.
IPS data states that there are 534 administrative detainees currently being held in Israel.
Ynet reported that Member of Knesset (MK) and member of the Joint List political bloc -- representing parties led by Palestinian citizens of Israel in the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) -- said that Ibrahim was detained after reportedly making “frequent visits” to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem and for “conducting a religious way of life.”
However, since Israeli authorities are not required to disclose any evidence concerning cases of administrative detainees for alleged security reasons, the reasons behind the detention of Palestinians under the policy is usually unclear.
Meanwhile, Attorney Mustafa Suheil told Israeli newspaper Haaretz that the order was “puzzling,” considering the young age of the man, adding that the measure was “unusually harsh” for an Israeli citizen.
According to Haaretz, Ibrahim's family, alongside local activists, have established a popular committee to launch protests to demand his immediate release. The committee has also reportedly filed an appeal through a district court in Haifa.
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.