Over the past two weeks, Israeli authorities extended the remand of university professor and intellectual Ahmad Qatamish, Palestinian circus performer Muhammad Abu Sakha, as well as Palestinian activist and journalist Hassan Safadi.
Amnesty International released a statement Friday denouncing the three-month administrative detention order issued against 67-year-old Qatamish, a "prisoner of conscience,” on June 13, after being held without charge or trial in Ofer prison since May 14.
The statement described Qatamish as an "outspoken critic of both Israeli and Palestinian authorities and the Oslo accords,” who has "called for a fundamental change in the political landscape and strategy of Palestinians, an end to the divisions between Hamas and the Palestinian authorities in the West Bank, and has highlighted the Palestinian population’s discontent with their leadership.”
"Most recently, he has spoken out strongly in support of the mass Palestinian prisoner hunger strike,” the group said, adding that "Amnesty International believes that he has been detained solely due to his non-violent political activities and writing and to deter activism by other Palestinians.”
Qatamish has spent more than eight years under separate stints of administrative detention, and was most recently released in December 2013.
His wife told Amnesty International that as a result of his mistreatment and medical neglect in Israeli prisons, he sustained damages to his inner ear affecting his balance and has had recurring episodes of fainting and blackouts, Ma’an news agency reported.
Amnesty International called on Israeli authorities "to ensure Ahmad Qatamish has prompt access to adequate healthcare and medical treatment, pending his release.”
While Israeli authorities claim the withholding of evidence during administrative detention, which allows detention for three- to six-month renewable intervals, is essential for state security concerns, rights groups have instead 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.
Rights groups say that Israel's administrative detention policy has also been used as an attempt to disrupt Palestinian political and social processes, notably targeting Palestinian politicians, activists, and journalists.
According to rights groups, 6,200 Palestinians were detained by Israel as of May, 490 of whom were held in administrative detention.