A Hebron man demonstrates in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on a hunger strike in protest at being held in administrative detention.
(photo credit: MUSSA QAWASMA / REUTERS)
The state was willing to remove the hospital restraints from a hunger- striking terrorist for a court hearing, but not for when he received emergency care, lawyer Tamir Blank told The Jerusalem Post on Monday following a High Court of Justice hearing.
Balil Kayed was in the 68th day of his hunger strike against his administrative detention as he came before the High Court to request his freedom, but also to have his hospital bed restraints removed.
Kayed was arrested in 2002 and sentenced to 14-and-a-half years in prison for crimes related to his affiliation with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
Immediately upon his release on June 15, he was placed in administrative detention, a procedure carried out with several other Palestinian terrorists who served their prison terms.
Administrative detention involves judicial proceedings without trial, with only the case judge seeing all of the classified evidence.
Most of the world criticizes such proceedings as failing to give the detainees a fair chance to defend themselves. Israel and the small number of other countries who use it say it is the only way sometimes to prevent future terrorist acts without revealing intelligence sources in open court.
The state revealed at Monday’s High Court hearing that leading up to the hearing it had removed all but one of Kayed’s leg restraints.
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Blank said this was an obvious and cynical tactical move by the state to achieve two purposes.
First, it would seem to show the High Court that the state was being flexible while still having Kayed shackled to his bed.
Second, it would make it harder for the High Court to address the global policy issue of the Israel Prisons Service bringing hunger-striking detainees to the hospital in restraints as a matter of course.
In fact, the High Court justices said that they could not rule on that issue since Kayed himself was no longer fully restrained.
In contrast, Blank said that the state had refused to remove any of Kayed’s restraints when he went into emergency care temporarily on Friday.
Blank said this showed the state was not willing to be flexible for Kayed’s health, but only when the High Court was hovering over it.
The state did not explain why it had released Kayed from most of his restraints.
In addition, Blank said that Kayed should still be released from his single remaining leg restraint, since he is under heavy guard and cannot escape, and also demanded he have access to an independent medical care provider.
The hearing on the fundamental request of whether to release him from administrative detention was unusually held essentially entirely behind closed doors. Normally, only a short aspect of the security issues are behind closed doors, with all other issues open to the public.
On Saturday, Robert Piper, the UN’s resident coordinator and humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories slammed administrative detention, saying, “I am deeply concerned about the deteriorating health of Palestinian detainee Bilal Kayed, after 67 days of a hunger strike protesting his detention without charge or trial.”
“This is an egregious case, in which Mr. Kayed was placed on administrative detention on the day of his scheduled release after completing a 14.5 year prison sentence,” Piper said.
The Foreign Ministry did not respond to the UN criticism.
Earlier in August, Beersheba District Court Judge Ahron Mishnayot denied his initial request for release. Mishnayot was previously chief justice of the IDF’s West Bank Courts 2007-2013 and is familiar with administrative detention issues from that prior role.
A number of hunger striking detainees have been released by Israel in recent years once their health dropped to a point of their lives being in danger. At that point, usually the state has offered a relaxation of detention conditions and a deadline date by which the hunger- striker would be released.
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