Israel Jails Palestinians Who ‘Fit the Terrorist Profile’

Many Held Without Charges on Secret Evidence

Always trying to increase security in the occupied West Bank, Israel is increasingly relying on its “administrative detention” orders, the practice of detaining Palestinians on the basis of secret evidence and without recourse to any court. That’s unsurprising, and would be par for the course, except for the increasing reliance on social media “profiling.”

Israel has very specific ideas of what seems like it would be a terrorist thing to say on social media, and unsurprisingly that often runs directly parallel to being an ordinary Palestinian civilian. It’s also enough to get people disappeared into prison for one or more detention order.

So when someone on Facebook mentions a person who died, even of natural causes, as having been “martyred,” a common parlance in Arabic, many times they’re brought in for interrogation, not told why, of course, and only occasionally are even obvious cases of innocent confusion resolved without at least one four month detention order.

Israel argues that this is wholly appropriate, because of the extraordinary security situation, and perfectly legal under Israeli law, since free speech isn’t a thing in the military courts that handle Palestinians living under occupation, and many detainees never see the inside of a court at any rate.

It doesn’t take much, either. Mentioning someone having died is suspicious. Complaining about treatment by Israeli forces is “incitement,” and complaining about anything in general is often seen as a sign the person is potentially suicidal, and therefore a potential suicide attacker.

Indeed, Haaretz has a recording on a briefing in which one Israeli officer defended the detention of innocent people as such, saying that they might arrest a Palestinian kid so soon “he doesn’t know he’s a terrorist yet.” Palestinians, however, rarely have reason to doubt that Israel has made that judgement against them long ago.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of