Israeli security forces & threten detainees with live fire


Palestinian administrative detainees reported this week to an attorney for LAW- The Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment, that the commander of Megiddo jail in Israel received instructions from top military commanders to open fire on the Palestinian administrative detainees if they continue to protest against their continued - illegal detention. The instructions include:

1. Targeting the leaders of the administrative detainees during protests with live fire, rubber bullets and tear gas. 2. Extending the administrative detentions of the prison leaders. 2. Opening fire on any detainee who moves or does not sit properly during a prison count. (All detainees are unarmed). 3. Declaring all protests by the detainees, including non-violent protest such as silent vigils and sit-ins, as "insurrection". Accordingly, the Israeli army may respond with violence to all such protests. 4. Total isolation of the administrative detainees from the rest of the prison.

These new orders including the use of live fire against unarmed detainees, are in blatant violation of international law and violate all acceptable standards of prison regulations and rules for administrative detainees. Since administrative detainees are not charged or tried with any offense, they must be accorded all civilian rights (including unrestricted mobility in the prison) and not be subject to the same treatment and discipline as prisoners. Furthermore, administrative detention is only to be used as preventive (and not punitive) measure for the occupying power when it's "security" outside the prison, is severely threatened. Administrative detention is never meant to be used as a disciplinary measure for administrative detainees inside the prison, nor is it meant to be used for long-term. LAW believes that the root cause for the tension in Megiddo prison is the continued extensions of the administrative detainees' detention orders; nearly half of the administrative detainees are sitting in administrative detention for more than a year. Any violent response by the Israeli army to the detainees' protests, will only escalate the tensions inside and outside the prison.

The Palestinian administrative detainees have appealed to the Israeli security forces to discuss ways to halt their continued illegal detention and to reduce the tension, but until today, the security forces have refused to talk with them. Instead the security forces issued 26 extension orders causing further frustration and anger among the detainees. Nearly half of the 300 Palestinian administrative detainees have been held in administrative detention for more than a year and a 1/4 for two years and more.

In an related matter, the Israeli security forces arrested and put into administrative detention for six months an Israeli Arab citizen, Kamal Samara from Lud/Lydda for six months. Mr. Samarah joins 15 administrative detainees now being held in Ashakalon prison.

The entire international human rights community, including Amnesty International has called for the immediate release or trial of all the administrative detainees. Since none of the administrative detainees have been charged or tried for any offense nor been accused of having "blood on their hands", LAW has proposed that the Israelis release the Palestinian administrative detainees as a confidence- building measure to restore the peace process. Under Annex VII of the Oslo II agreement signed in September 1995, the Israelis committed to release all detainees not charged or tried with violent offenses. This has yet to be carried out.

LAW-The Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment is a non-governmental organization, dedicated to preserving human rights through legal advocacy. LAW is also an affiliate member of the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights.