Is administrative detention needed to fight terror?

Commentary: The Adnan case won't be the last time prisoners are held for a set period without charge or trial.

February 21, 2012 18:02
1 minute read.
Palestinian rioters [file]

protesters outside Ofer prison_390. (photo credit: Reuters)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analysis from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief


The issue of administrative detention for terrorism suspects has resurfaced in the headlines recently, following the two-month hunger strike launched by Islamic Jihad member Khader Adnan against his own detention.

Although Adnan is ending his strike after the state pledged not to renew his imprisonment, his case will not be the last involving administrative detention, in which prisoners are held for a set period without charge or trial.

Human rights activists condemn the measure as a gross violation of human rights, but defense officials argue that it is a life-saving tool that defends civilians from terrorist organizations – a tool that the civil criminal justice system is unable to provide.

According to B’Tselem – The Israel Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, the past 12 months saw an increase in the number of Palestinian administrative detainees, from 219 in January 2011 to 309 in January 2012.

“There are two reasons why administrative detention is used,” Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland, a former national security adviser, told The Jerusalem Post. “The first is that you know someone is planning an attack, but you can’t prove it through a legal process. If you relied on the legal process, the suspect would go free, but the risk [to the general public] would be very high,” he added.

The second reason, and the one most commonly cited for administrative detention, is that the intelligence acquired on terrorism suspects has come from highly sensitive sources.

“The information is so classified that it can’t be exposed, even in closed-door court sessions,” Eiland explained.

In ordinary civil legal proceedings, police must present their evidence to a court, which then decides whether to keep the suspect in custody.

Eiland, who also served as the head of the IDF’s Operations Branch, said only the most senior defense levels are authorized to seek administrative detention. “This is someone who knows the real dangers of exposing the intelligence,” he said.

Administrative detentions have a six-month cap, during which security forces work to investigate the wider terrorist cell in which suspects operate.

In most cases, after two rounds of administrative custody, the case goes before the Supreme Court.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

August 31, 2014
Rioting resumes throughout east Jerusalem Saturday night