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Palestinian MP sentenced to administrative detention

Oct. 26, 2010 9:50 A.M. (Updated: Oct. 27, 2010 9:48 P.M.)
HEBRON (Ma'an) -- An Israeli military court on Monday sentenced a Hamas-affiliated member of the Palestinian Legislative council to six months of administrative detention.

Hatem Qafaish, elected to the Palestinian parliament in 2006 with Hamas' Change and Reform bloc, was detained after Israeli forces ransacked his home last Monday. The PLC member was detained on 6 November 2007 and placed under administrative detention until his release in 2009.

Administrative detention -- detainment without trial or charge -- is regularly handed down to Palestinians seized in the West Bank and is often prolonged without hearing or appeal.

According to Israel rights group B'tselem, Israel's use of administrative detention "blatantly violates" internationally-recognized restrictions on its use.

"It is carried out under the thick cover of privilege, which denies detainees the possibility of mounting a proper defense. Over the years, Israel has administratively detained thousands of Palestinian for prolonged periods of time, without prosecuting them, without informing them of the charges against them, and without allowing them or their attorneys to study the evidence," the rights group says.

Meanwhile, a top Shin Bet official on Monday asked the Knesset to extend a temporary order that allows the security service to detain Palestinian prisoners for four days without a hearing, Israeli media reported.

"The security situation in Israel has not changed over the past three years and there is therefore a need to extend the temporary order," the Shin Bet's head of investigations told the Knesset's legislative committee, Haaretz wrote.

According to the Ad-Dameer Prisoners’ Support and Human Rights organization, Qafaish had been detained by Israel five times prior to his latest detention. He was elected to the PLC in January 2006 after campaigning from his prison cell.

Qafaish was also among the more than 400 activists Israel deported to Marj Al-Zuhur in southern Lebanon in December 1992. After returning to the West Bank in 1993, he chronicled his experience in exile in a series of articles in the Al-Quds newspaper. He intended to eventually to publish a memoir, but the manuscript was confiscated by Israeli prison guards.

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