Amnesty slams IDF for administrative detention of circus clown

IDF Court said his arrest stopped a terror attack.

A MAN DRESSED as a clown plays with a girl on Friday, Id al-Fitr, near the Dome of the Rock on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount (photo credit: REUTERS)
A MAN DRESSED as a clown plays with a girl on Friday, Id al-Fitr, near the Dome of the Rock on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Amnesty International on Monday condemned the IDF for administratively detaining a circus clown who performs for disabled children, saying the legal proceeding behind the detention was itself a “circus act.”
Muhammad Abu Saha was first detained by the IDF in December 2015 and on Monday his detention was extended for another six months by a military court in Ofer.
The IDF’s administrative detention sidesteps the right to a criminal trial and allows the presentation of secret evidence in court. However, detention can only occur if approved by a court at least once every six months.
Most of the international community is critical of Israel’s administrative detention policy. But in this particular case, due to Abu Saha’s job as a clown and the children he helps, clowns from the US, England, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Brazil and a list of other countries have loudly protested the detention even more than usual.
An Amnesty spokesman said that all they had been told was that Abu Saha was accused of being a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, but with no details about him being dangerous or concrete evidence to back up the claim.
The spokesman added that Abu Saha was convicted of low-grade stone throwing when he was 17 in 2009, but that the IDF presented no new evidence against him. The IDF has not responded to press inquiries about the case.
The military court also said that the security threat posed by Abu Saha was “decisive... and high-level” and that his activities were “not political.”
Amnesty’s Hilal Alush called the detention a “political crusade to silence” Palestinian voices opposing the occupation.
During the current wave of violence, the number of administratively detained Palestinians has jumped from around the 200- 300 range to around 700, which some credit with helping reduce the level of violence.
The IDF Spokesman’s Office said Abu Saha was detained based on intelligence information indicating that his activities with the PFLP presented a grave and immediate danger.
It added that his detention was approved by the courts “as a last resort when the danger he presented could not be neutralized any other way.”
In addition, The Jerusalem Post learned that on January 5, 2016, a military court ruled – on the basis of secret evidence presented by the IDF – that Abu Saha is “currently active in the PFLP” and that his perpetrating a terror attack “was only prevented by his arrest and the arrest of others.”