Administrative Detention and Israeli regulations

In principle, administrative detention is considered an extreme and last resort. International norms and principles place administrative detention in the hands of governments to accommodate the most unusual of cases to carry out national interests. However, this is not how it is used within the Israeli context. Israel has resorted too often to administrative detention to circumvent international law and the rights of the Palestinian detainees, up to the point that this form of detention has become a standard of Israeli occupation policies since 1967.  Israel enforces harsh and limitless punishments on Palestinian detainees, and relies on “secret files” that neither the detainees nor defense lawyers are allowed access to, thus confiscating the detainee’ right to a fair trial. Since 2000, Israel has issued 25 thousand administrative detention orders, often renewing such orders several times.  The occupation simply uses the measure as a means of collective punishment against tens of thousands of Palestinian people, men and women, young and old.


Israel has repeatedly alleged that its occupation forces use administrative detention against residents of the West Bank when other practices fail to meet its security requirements. However, this, in no way, represents the truth of the Israeli use of the practice. Israel, in reality, casually violates international law by abusing any latitude it has given the occupation’s military. This manifests itself in the following ways:

  1. Broad usage: As opposed to the nature of administrative detention set by international laws, principles, and norms, Israel uses the measure out of malice and convenience. The measure was meant to mediate the possible danger from perspective detainees; however, Israel uses it routinely and has frequently held thousands of Palestinians over the years, and hundreds at any point in time.
  2. The usage of administrative detention as a substitute to criminal conviction: In many cases, authorities use administrative detention as a convenient substitute to criminal due process, especially when they lack sufficient evidence to produce a conviction or the ability to make evidence public. The way Israel uses administrative detentions is blatantly illegal and blurs the line between a preemptive procedure that accounts for future possibilities and another that aims to punish. The legal justification for administrative detention used internationally is the imminence of immediate threat posed by a subject that cannot be prevented using any other methods. Thus, previous transgression or “crimes” must not factor in the application of administrative detention, except as they may indicate future tendencies, nothing more.
  3. Unfair trials and lack of due process: Palestinian detainees are not granted access to the evidence that informs the decision to detain them, nor are they granted the chance to truly defend themselves. On the contrary, the use of classified documents in trials as a method of bypassing the law is the norm and not the exception. This practice is sanctioned under the Israeli judicial system that has failed to limit its use by the Israeli army. In many ways, this overlooking of the practice is based on the complete trust that the Israeli judicial system has in its intelligence community and its belief in the community’s intentions that are universally opposed to the best interests of the detainees. Thus, it is clear that this process represents a hindrance to free and fair trials of Palestinian detainees.
  4. The extension of detention periods: Israeli law allows for the detention of administrative detainees for up to six month per order and also allows for another six month extension whenever needed without limiting the number of possible extensions. This has reflected itself in the practices of the Israeli military, which often extends detention of Palestinians repeatedly before release. For example, in July 2009, 79% of Palestinians placed under administrative detention were detained for over six months, meaning that they were subject to multiple such orders. At the extreme, 2% of these detainees served up to four successive years under administrative detention.
  5. Detention within Israel: Israel often detains Palestinian administrative detainees within the borders of the state of Israel (i.e. pre-1967 boarders). This is in clear violation of international law that forbids the transfer of detainees who are residents of occupied territories outside the occupied territory. As a result of the blockade and closure of the West Bank and Gaza, this practice has greatly hindered the ability of family members and loved ones to visit detainees inside Israel.