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Israel releases Palestinian circus performer from administrative detention

Sept. 3, 2017 12:24 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 5, 2017 5:09 P.M.)
Muhammad Abu Sakha (File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces on Wednesday night released Palestinian circus performer Muhammad Abu Sakha to his home in the Jenin district of the northern West Bank, after serving 20 months in administrative detention, according to Israeli and international media.

Abu Sakha, 24, was working as a circus performer and teacher at the Palestinian Circus School in Birzeit -- where he specialized in working with children with learning difficulties -- when he was detained on Dec. 14, 2015.

His case sparked international outcry against Israel’s use of administrative detention, which is almost exclusively used by the Israeli state against Palestinians, and allows for detention without charge or trial.

While Israeli authorities are only permitted to sentence someone to administrative detention for a maximum of six months, the order can be renewed an indefinite amount of times without having to show evidence of wrongdoing.

While Abu Sakha was never officially charged, Israeli media linked his detention to his alleged involvement with the left-wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) movement, which Israel considers a terrorist organization.

Human rights group Amnesty International previously said that it feared that Israeli authorities “are using administrative detention as a method of punishing Muhammad Faisal Abu Sakha without prosecuting him, which would amount to arbitrary detention.”

Rights groups have long accused Israeli authorities of using administrative detention to imprison Palestinian activists, journalists, students, and politicians without any proof of wrongdoing in order to disrupt social and political life in the occupied Palestinian territory.

“Israel’s use of administrative detention itself may amount to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, given the detainee’s inability to know why they are being detained or when they will be released,” Amnesty International said.

According to prisoners rights group Addameer, there were 6,128 Palestinians in Israeli prisons as of July, including 450 held in administrative detention.

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