Israeli court extends detention of veteran Palestinian prisoner held without charge

12:00 Sep 4 2016 israel's Ofer Military Prison & Court

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- An Israeli military court at the Ofer detention center west of Ramallah in the central occupied West Bank on Sunday decided to extend the administrative detention of 63-year-old Palestinian prisoner Omar Barghouthi, most recently held without trial or charge since November after more than two decades of periodic detentions by Israel.

A statement from the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) quoted one of its lawyers Ahmad Safiyya as saying that Sunday’s court order was the fourth time Barghouthi's remand has been extended since he was detained on Nov. 19, 2015.

In a previous hearing, the court recommended extending Barghouthi’s detention for three more months, but the sentence was reduced to two months.

Barghouthi's lawyers have tried all possible legal procedures to secure his release, according to PPS, including an appeal to Israel’s Supreme Court, but Israeli courts approved his administrative detention for four consecutive times.

Israeli military prosecution claimed during all hearings that they have “classified information” which proves Barghouthi “is a threat to the security of the state of Israel.”

Barghouthi is from the village of Kubar north of Ramallah. He has six children and ten grandchildren, and has spent about 26 years of his life in Israeli custody between prison sentences and administrative detentions.
He is reportedly a senior leader in the Hamas movement. Members of Hamas, which is designated as a terrorist organization by Israel, are routinely targeted during the near-nightly detention raids conducted by Israeli forces across the occupied West Bank.

Barghouthi was previously re-detained in June 2014 during a large-scale detention campaign in the occupied West Bank after three teenage Israeli settlers were kidnapped and murdered.

A previous arrest in 2010 saw Barghouthi’s administrative detention renewed at least six times without Israeli authorities charging him or explaining the allegations brought against him.

Ma’an reported in 2012 that Barghouthi's son Assam was also imprisoned in Ofer's military jail, serving an 11-year sentence.

Omar Barghouthi’s brother Nael was also the longest serving prisoner in Israeli jails before his release in Nov. 2011 as part of a swap deal to free Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners.

Israel’s policy of administrative detention -- internment without charge or trial based on undisclosed evidence -- has been widely condemned by the international community.

Although Israeli authorities claim the withholding of evidence during administrative detention is essential for state security concerns, rights groups have claimed that the policy allows Israeli authorities to hold Palestinians for an indefinite period of time without showing any evidence that could justify their detentions.

Since Israel considers the majority of Palestinian political factions illegal, designating them as “terrorist organizations,” Palestinians are highly vulnerable to arbitrary detentions by Israeli forces, as most Palestinian families are affiliated with one of several Palestinian parties.

Rights groups have also charged Israel with using its policy of administrative detention, which is almost exclusively used against Palestinians, as a way of eroding Palestinian democracy and family life, while enabling Israeli authorities to detain Palestinian activists and journalists for extended periods of time without evidence of any wrongdoing.

As of July, Palestinian prisoners' rights group Addameer reported that 7,000 Palestinians were held in Israeli prisons including seven members of the Palestinian legislative council, 750 of whom were being held in administrative detention.
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