Following HeMoked's revelation: the military announces it will cease the illegal practice of holding Palestinian detainees at the "Mul Nevo" military base which is not an incarceration facility המוקד להגנת הפרט
15.04.2012
Following HeMoked's revelation: the military announces it will cease the illegal practice of holding Palestinian detainees at the "Mul Nevo" military base which is not an incarceration facility
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The military legislation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), and both Israeli and international law, prescribe a lengthy list of rules for the proper treatment of detainees. The law holds that the registration of a detainee at the place of custody is imperative for the realization of the detainee's rights and stipulates that he must be held at a known official detention facility. Furthermore, adequate conditions must be maintained at the facility, in keeping with the minimum standards necessary to assure the dignity and well being of the inmates. Violation of these principles damages the basic rights of the detainee.

In 2011, HaMoked revealed that Israel was holding Palestinian detainees illegally, in an unrecognized detention facility and in inadequate conditions. This phenomenon came to light by chance, when HaMoked attempted to locate the whereabouts of OPT residents who had been arrested at the Allenby Bridge border crossing and then "vanished" for many hours, during which their arrest and whereabouts were unrecorded. Only following HaMoked's inquiries, it was ultimately revealed that the detainees were kept at the Mul Nevo military base, near Jericho.

The military has been "concealing" the detainees at Mul Nevo for long, making it almost impossible to trace them. The military does not record the detainees in the incarceration database, and so their families, lawyers and others cannot know whether they have been arrested and where are they kept.

Furthermore, affidavits given by detainees who were held at Mul Nevo suggest that the military acts as a law unto itself, in complete disregard of the minimum standards of incarceration set in both international law and Israeli law, and in the military's own legislation.

HaMoked has learnt that detainees at Mul Nevo are kept blindfolded and handcuffed, for hours on end, seated on a chair or on the ground, exposed to the elements; they are left without food and drink for many hours, which are supplied irregularly; they are deprived of basic sanitary conditions and of the opportunity to relieve themselves in dignified circumstances; they get no bed to sleep in, even at nighttime; and they are denied the liberty to pray as they choose. The military holds the detainees in inhuman conditions for long hours, sometimes for over 24 hours, thus harming their rights, dignity and well being.

Learning of this illegal and harmful practice, HaMoked contacted the managing director of the Allenby Terminal, to inquire how it could be that a person "vanishes" for a day or two, and only "reappears" when he is reaches an Israel Prison Service detention facility. As no substantive response arrived, HaMoked applied also to the border police commander and to the internal comptroller of the Israel Security Agency (ISA). Other than admitting that the illegal practice was indeed being used, the responses were, again, vacuous. Before filing a petition to the Court, HaMoked wrote to the Military Advocate General as well. In its communications, HaMoked repeatedly clarified that by this illegal practice, the military has been severely infringing upon the detainees' rights and human dignity.

In April, 2012, more than six months after HaMoked's first communication on the subject, the military's response arrived. In a letter by the military legal advisor for the West Bank, the military acknowledged that it was – illegally – "holding the detainees temporarily at the 'Mul Nevo' base, which is not an official detention facility." However, the military stressed that – in complete contradiction to the detainees' statements – it had taken care to provide the detainees' basic needs. As to specific claims raised by HaMoked concerning the extended custody at Mul Nevo and the inability to trace the detainees, the military claimed these "only resulted from incidental failures in reporting or unexpected and prolonged delays [...] and are not indicative of the overall situation." In conclusion, the military accepted HaMoked's demand, and stipulated that "since the 'Mul Nevo' base has not been declared a detention facility, detainees will no longer be kept at that base."

HaMoked wishes to recall that under both international law and Israeli law, in and of themselves, arrest or imprisonment do not have the power to deprive an inmate of his basic rights. The prison walls restrict his freedom of movement and all that it entails, but they cannot revoke his other basic rights – even if he is Palestinian.
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