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UN calls on Israel to release Palestinian prisoners held under administrative detention or bring charges against them if any exists

Palestinians hold pictures of relatives held in Israeli jails during a rally marking Palestinian Prisoners’ Day in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus. (File photo by Reuters)

The spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has once again called on Israel to release Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails under the so-called policy of administrative detention or bring charges against them if any exist.

Stephane Dujarric made the demand at a press conference on Saturday, stressing that the UN is closely monitoring the situation of the prisoners held under the "administrative detention," including prominent French-Palestinian human rights defender Salah Hammouri.

"We are closely following the situation of Mr. Hammouri and other Palestinian administrative detainees held by Israel. We’re aware that there are about 30 detainees, including him, who’ve recently ended their hunger strike, which had been going on since September," Dujarric said.

He urged Israel  "to end the practice of [keeping] administration detainees, by either releasing people or charging them when there are grounds to do so."

The "administrative detention" allows the occupying regime to incarcerate Palestinians indefinitely without pressing formal charges, or putting them on trial.

Hammouri, 37, was arrested in March 2017. An Israeli military court sentenced him to administrative detention for defending Palestinian rights and accused him of endangering "security in the region."

An Israeli court last month renewed the administrative detention of Hammouri for an additional three months, one day before his expected release. 

Thirty Palestinian political prisoners started their hunger strike against their indefinite, unfair and unexplained imprisonment at the hands of the Tel Aviv regime on September 25, saying in a statement that their collective detention amounted to 200 years.

“Hundreds of years, during which the occupation prevented us from embracing our families or seeing our children as they were born or growing up. We never celebrated their birthdays, we did not accompany them on their first school day,” read part of the statement. 

The 30 administrative detainees, however, suspended their hunger strike on October 13 to give a chance to the prisoners’ representatives to address their issue with the Israeli authorities.

Israeli authorities issued 5,728 administrative detention orders against Palestinians across the Palestinian territories between 2017-2021, according to  Addameer, a Palestinian prisoners' rights group.  

There are reportedly more than 7,000 Palestinians held in Israeli jails. Hundreds of the inmates have been incarcerated under the practice of "administrative detention." Some prisoners have been held without a charge for up to 11 years.

Palestinians and human rights groups say the detention policy violates the right to due process since the evidence is withheld from prisoners while they are held for lengthy periods without being charged, tried, or convicted.

The detention takes place on orders from a military commander and on the basis of what the Israeli regime describes as secret evidence.

Human rights organizations have condemned the so-called administrative detention as a “cruel, unjust practice" which helps maintain "Israel’s system of apartheid" against Palestinians.

Palestinian detainees have continuously resorted to open-ended hunger strikes in an attempt to express outrage at the detentions. Israeli jail authorities keep Palestinian prisoners under deplorable conditions without proper hygienic standards. Palestinian inmates have also been subject to systematic torture, harassment, and repression.

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