Israel’s High Court Rejects Justice
by Stephen Lendman
On May 8, hunger strikers Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahleh reached day 71.
On May 7, Israel’s High Court ruled let ’em die. It rejected an urgent appeal to save them. They’re uncharged political prisoners, not criminals.
Virtually all Palestinian prisoners are behind bars for political reasons. They resist to live free on their own land. International law permits it. Israel calls it terrorism.
Its High Court agrees. Justice hasn’t a chance. Arab rights don’t matter. Let ’em die.
The Court ruled hunger striking “cannot in itself form a factor in the decision regarding the validity of an administrative detention.”
“Administrative detention causes unease for any judge, but it is sometimes a necessity when the revealing of intelligence gathered against the petitioner would endanger the people who gave it or the ways of gathering it.”
Wrong, and justices know it! Prolonged uncharged arbitrary detention constitutes a serious breach of international law.
Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states:
1. “Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedures as are established by law.
2. Anyone who is arrested shall be informed, at the time of arrest, of the reasons for his arrest and shall be promptly informed of any charges against him.
4. Anyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings before a court, in order that that court may decide without delay on the lawfulness of his detention and order his release if the detention is not lawful.”
Although temporarily infringing the law is permitted “in time of public emergency which threatens the life of the nation,” Israel uses it consistently, abusively, and in violation of Fourth Geneva’s Article 78, stating:
“If the Occupying Power considers it necessary, for imperative reasons of security, to take measures concerning protected persons, it may, at the most, subject them to assigned residence or to internment.”
“Decisions regarding such assigned residence or internment shall be made according to a regular procedure to be prescribed by the Occupying Power in accordance with the provisions of the present Convention. This procedure shall include the right of appeal (decided on) with the least possible delay. (If it’s upheld), it shall be subject to periodical review….”
Administrative detention may never substitute for customary criminal proceedings. It’s only permitted as a temporary measure to prevent lawless acts.
Moreover, transferring protected persons to occupying power territory is illegal. For Israel, it’s policy.
On May 8, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I) condemned the court ruling, saying:
“The Supreme Court’s rejection of court petitions in name of the administrative detainees Diab and Halahlah, each of who are in the their 71st day of hunger strike in protest of their administrative detention, is the effective equivalent of handing down a death sentence.”
“By way of this decision, the judges are tightening their hold on administrative detainees, which, due to the absense of concrete evidence, the inability of the detainee to defend himself in court and the unlimited renewal of his/her detention term, constitutes a full negation of liberties and human freedom.”
“This is not a stand-alone case. We are talking here about 2 people out of a population of 320 administrative detainees who are currently serving time under identical constraints; their access to a fair trial is blantantly and continuously denied.”
“This ruling renders even more evident the enormous costs of the Occupation and Israeli control over Palestinians, which destroys any semblance of justice. The unacceptable standards that were once practiced by military courts alone are gradually becoming the same shameful norm by which the Supreme Court itself issues its own rulings.”
“We call upon Israeli leaders at the highest echelons to act swiftly to bring about a solution that will save the lives of the detainees on hunger strike and uphold their rights.”
Israel’s High Court tilts right. After Dorit Beinisch retired last February, Asher Grunis replaced her as president. His ideology is conservative. He defers to executive and legislative decisions. Right-wing politicians and bureaucrats love him.
Smoothing his way to become court president, Israel’s Knesset abolished the rule requiring justices to have at least three years left to serve before mandatory age 70 retirement.
Asher reaches it in 2015, five weeks short of eligibility. That was before the Knesset fast-tracked the so-called “Grunis bill’s” passage. Netanyahu wanted him appointed.
In January, Noam Sohlberg became Israel’s first settler High Court justice. Controversy surrounds him. His appointment ignored conflicts of interest. Living on stolen land should have disqualified him.
He’ll now rule on international law issues. His record is anti-liberal. At age 50, he’ll likely become court president. Seniority is the main qualification.
Israel’s High Court rarely rules favorably for Palestinians. Monday’s ruling highlights what they’re up against.
Jawad Boulos represents Balil and Thaer. After Israel conditionally released Khader Adnan and Hana Shalabi, he feared policy henceforth will be let ’em die. Indefinite administrative detentions facilitate it.
Right-wing courts go along. Justices bow to Shin Bet, other security forces, and the Israel Prison Service. One section of their ruling said:
“The supreme court justices aren’t telling the security forces what to do, only pointing out that they could use such-and-such a provision. What we do not see in that verdict is a judiciary that feels it is of equal power to the security forces.”
In other words, Israel’s highest judicial authority defers to lawless state policy. Palestinian prisoners society head Qaddura Fares accused the court of being politically motivated, saying:
“The court knows the gravity of (the) status and health (of Bilal and Thaer), but it has decided to reject their petition. This court is a tool of” Israel’s security services. Justice is sacrificed for them.
Palestinians are harmed most. Bilal, Thaer and other hunger strikers may die. Let ’em, the court ruled.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.