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Israel: Supreme Court Suspends Detention of Islamic Jihad Activist

(Aug. 25, 2015) On August 19, 2015, Israel’s Supreme Court suspended the continued detention of a person determined to be “an activist of the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization.” The Military Commander of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) had imposed a detention order on the person after he had completed a prison term from 2006 to 2009 for recruiting a suicide bomber. (HCJ 5580/15 Alan v. General Security Service (Aug. 19, 2015), ¶ A, THE JUDICIAL AUTHORITY (in Hebrew).) The Court had previously recognized that the petitioner’s detention was justifiable based on reliable intelligence that indicated he had collaborated with others who had engaged in extensive terrorist activity intended to harm security in the West Bank. (Id. ¶¶ A-B.)

In his recent petition for suspension of the order, the petitioner alleged that based on his poor medical condition after two months of being on a hunger strike, he no longer constituted a danger to security. Considering, he argued, that “administrative detention” (i.e., non-judicial detention) is a preventive rather than a punitive measure, in his condition detention was no longer merited. (Id. ¶ C.)

At the time the Court handed down its decision, evidence was presented that the petitioner was experiencing a cognitive decline and was being treated in the intensive care unit at an Israeli hospital. According to these medical reports, it is unclear whether the cognitive deterioration is reversible or not. (Id. ¶ E.)

Reiterating its prior decisions that hunger strikes are irrelevant in determining the validity of an administrative detention, the Court nevertheless decided that, based on the petitioner’s medical condition, he no longer posed any danger that could justify his further detention. The Court suspended the detention order and held that the petitioner should continue to receive medical treatment and that his relatives could visit him. The Court clarified that although the order was suspended, it would become void upon a determination that the petitioner’s medical situation was irreversible. (Id. ¶ F.)