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Detention Facilities

The detention facilities operated by Israel in the West bank are Ofer Prison, run by the Prison Service, the military detention facilities at the Samaria and Etzion Territorial Brigade Headquarters, a GSS (General Security Service) interrogation facility near Ofer Prison, the Judea Military Court, and the Military Court of Appeals.

The Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits an occupying power from transfering and holding prisoners and detainees outside the occupied territory. Nevertheless, Israel routinely holds Palestinian detainees and prisoners who are West Bank residents in detention facilities in Israel. Detainees under GSS interrogation are held in detention facilities in Petah Tikva, in the Russian Compound (al-Muskubīya) in Jerusalem, at the Kishon (Jalame) detention facility in the north, in the Shikma prison in Ashkelon, and in the Beersheba prison. There are military courts adjacent to all these facilities (except  for Beersheba), which deal with extending the remand of prisoners held there.

In addition, detainees and prisoners who are residents of the West Bank are scattered in prisons throughout Israel, from Ketziot prison near the Egyptian border in the south to Tzalmon prison in Galilee. The Ketziot prison even has a military court dealing with administrative detention.  Transfer of detainees and prisoners from the West Bank into Israel leads to a decrease in, and sometimes even severance of, the connection between themselves, their families, and their lawyers living in the West Bank. In March 2010, the Supreme Court rejected a petition filed by human rights organizations in 2009 demanding that prisoners and detainees from the West Bank not be held, contrary to international law, outside the West Bank, since this was a violation of their rights. [1]

Detention laws applying to Palestinians from the West Bank

Detention laws applying to Palestinians from the West Bank appear in Chapter III of the Order Regarding Defense Regulations [2]. The order states that all soldiers are authorized to arrest persons suspected of violating the order without the need for a warrant of arrest. In such cases, the warrant against the detainee must be issued within 96 hours. Police officers are authorized to obtain a warrant of arrest for eight days against Palestinian residents of the West Bank. Extending the detention for longer than eight days requires a remand injunction from a military court. Therefore, according to military legislation, detainees are usually brought before a judge for the first time only on the eighth day of detention. The Order Regarding Defense Regulations does not determine a shorter period for detainees who are minors. In comparison, Israel can only hold adults for 24 hours before bringing them before a judge, and minors below the age of 14 can be held for no longer than 12 hours.

The military court may extend the remand for investigation and interrogation, to give a military commander time to consider issuing an administrative detention order, or if an indictment is filed, to hold the detainee until the end of the proceedings. According to the Security Defense Regulations, the maximum lengths of time for extending a remand are considerably longer than permitted under Israeli law: e.g., according to Israeli law, after being indicted, a person may be held in detention for nine months until a verdict is given; any further detention requires an injunction from a Supreme Court justice. According to the Order Regarding Defense Regulations, however, a person may be held for two years without special permission. Any longer period of detention requires a decision by a judge from the Military Court of Appeals.

Administrative detention, decided upon pursuant to the Administrative Detention Order [3], allows a person to be held for six months based on secret information and without being required to specify the nature of the charge. This six-month period may be extended without limit.

Procedures for Arrest of Palestinians from the West Bank

Palestinians brought in for questioning when there is incriminating information against them are usually arrested. The arrests are made without a judge's warrant, but apparently according to the Order Regarding Defense Regulations, and on instructions from the law enforcement authorities. The arrests mainly occur in night raids on the suspect's residence. In these raids, many armed soldiers, wearing black uniforms, their faces often disguised with makeup, burst into the family's home, wake up the entire household, conduct searches and drag the suspect from his bed. The handcuffed and blindfolded suspects are taken to the detention center or for interrogation. These arrests are made regardless of the severity of the offense or the danger ascribed to the suspect, and do not consider the suspect's personal circumstances. Minors suspected of throwing stones and adults suspected of planting explosive devices are dragged from their beds in the same way. Even when the suspected offense occurred long before the arrest, and even when law enforcement authorities have had the incriminating information for a long time, the same method of a nighttime arrest without a judge's warrant is still used. These types of arrests increase the damage caused to the suspect and his family. The frightened and confused suspect is brought in for questioning and his relatives and neighbors are intimidated.


[1] HCJ 2690/09 Yesh Din v. IDF Commander in West Bank, et al.

[2] Order Regarding Security Provisions (Consolidated Version) (Judea and Samaria No. 1651) 2009

[3] Order Regarding  Administrative Detention  (Emergency Order) [Consolidated Version] (Judea and Samaria) (No. 1591) 2007

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