|Hana Shalabi’s 43-day hunger strike for justice ended by a deal with Israel that is far off from what justice should be. Shalabi had to accept being banished to the open-air prison that is Gaza for three years, away from home and family in the West Bank. Rights groups dubbed the deal as a breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention.Article 49(1) of the convention prohibits the transferring or deportation of people from occupied territory to the territory of the occupying power or to that of any other county, occupied or not. The detention also breaks another article of the Geneva Convention, which stipulates the rights of prisoners to family, something Shalabi had been deprived from. Shalabi’s family in the northern part of West Bank will not be able to visit her due to mobility issues between West Bank and Gaza.
But violations and breeches of treaties, human rights and international laws aren’t a new thing to Israel. And of course, all this still remains unquestioned by its biggest ally, US, which claims to be the world’s beacon of democracy.
A look at ‘Administrative Detention’
Administrative Detentions have been practiced on Palestinians by Israel since the beginning of the occupation in 1967, and before that, during the British Mandate. It basically gives the Israeli army the right to detain anyone perceived as a “threat” indefinitely. Even worse, they can detain people on the basis of secret evidence, without a charge or trial.
Doesn’t this sound familiar? Isn’t this exactly what the emergency law that has been enforced in Egypt for 30 years and still continues to be practically in effect even after claims that it has been lifted? But Egypt’s excuse was a dictatorship that abused such laws to oppress the people. One wouldn’t expect such laws to be in supposedly democratic countries, but it exists in the US under the National Defense Authorization Actand Israel. The two very same countries that are always speaking of how the region is in dire need for ‘democracy.’
The ‘privilege’ of administrative detention given to the state has made international law place extremely rigid restrictions on using it to prevent abuses.
According to Israeli Information Center for Human Rights, B’tselem , under international law administrative detention “can be used only in the most exceptional cases, as the last means available for preventing danger that cannot be thwarted by less harmful means.” This wasn’t the case with Khader Adnana, neither was it the case with Shalabi, who had also been held for two years before under said law.
Unlike what the law stipulates, it is obviously not only used in exceptional cases only. Figures prove Israel excessively uses administrative detentions, which should be abolished anywhere to begin with.
In February 2012 alone, there were at least 309 Palestinians from the West Bank and East Jerusalem held under administrative detention in Israeli jails. Among these prisoners were 24 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, according to Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Addameer . Over the 63-year catastrophe of Israeli occupation, thousands of Palestinians were held under to administrative detention orders. Between 2005 and 2007 the average monthly administrative detainees was at 765.
Israel’s decision to banish Shalabi, as a mean of “compromising” with her to end her 43-day hunger strike, seems more of a “vindictive punishment” as Richard Falk described it in his article published on March 31 in the Foreign Policy Journal. Hunger strikes are an obvious mean of non-violent resistance, yet the world doesn’t seem to take notice of the infringement of human rights that administrative detentions pose.