B'Tselem objects to the use of administrative detention against both Israelis and Palestinians, the human rights organization's spokesperson Sarit Michaeli said Sunday in an interview with The Jerusalem Post. Administrative detention is the practice by which terror suspects are jailed without trial for up to six months, during which security forces work to investigate the wider terrorist cell in which suspects operate.
Reacting to the government's recent move to approve administrative detention for suspected Jewish terrorists -- in the same way that it does for Palestinian terrorists -- Michaeli described the measure as "the worst tool in the toolbox" which she views as unacceptable, regardless of one's nationality.
The government decision was made following the suspected Jewish terror attack in Duma
, in the West Bank, which killed a Palestinian toddler and his father, and wounded other family members.
Michaeli expressed skepticism that the tougher stance the government is now taking against settler violence will have any real long-term impact: "These recent government actions look more like an attempt to divert attention and appease public outrage following this terrible attack in Duma than a real effort to enforce the law on settlers who attack Palestinians."
"There is a very long-term and clear unspoken policy to not enforce the law in these situations, by the Israeli authorities, to turn a blind eye, to not conduct proper police investigations into these matters, and therefore it's very hard to see how a couple of arrests will change that," she opined
Michaeli noted that administrative detention is not expressly prohibited under international law and can be used in very extreme cases where arrest is the only measure to remove a very serious danger, without revealing intelligence sources. However, she accused the Israeli authorities of exceeding this allowance, pointing to the 370 Palestinians currently held under administrative detention. "When you investigate these cases, you realize the Israeli authorities often choose administrative detention when they could actually use a criminal process,' she charged, adding that the measure is sometimes used when there is not enough evidence to convict a suspect in a military court.
Michaeli stressed that the human rights group views administrative detention of both Israelis and Palestinians as a violation of due process, and said it would instead like to see the Israeli authorities use proper police work in order to collect evidence, prosecute and convict suspects where appropriate. "People should be receiving a fair trial," she added, saying that in the current circumstances she doesn't see any justification for using this measure.