Three Israeli Arabs from the Wadi Ara region on northern Israel went missing on July 23. None of their families knew where they went or what happened. In recent days, it’s been discovered they were scooped up by the Israeli military for “questioning,” and summarily dumped into jail for six months.
The “why” behind all of this remains uncertain. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman is confirmed to have signed orders to hold them all, though none were activists or members of any known political factions.
Their lawyers, to the extent they have any, say they don’t believe there is a case here, noting that the security forces haven’t even offered suspicions that the three did anything, but have withheld all materials related to their detention from the lawyers as “classified.”
It’s a puzzling situation for a few reasons. Not only was there no trial, there’s not even an allegation of wrongdoing, or suspicion of wrongdoing. It’s extremely rare for the Israeli military to order summary detentions of Arab citizens even when there is a case against them, despite six month detentions without charges being ubiquitous within the occupied territories.
There is considerable concern that this new handful of detentions is setting a precedent for increased use of the military detention law, which was meant to clamp down on dissident Palestinians, is going to be increasingly applied to ethnic minorities within Israel. It’s particularly concerning for members of Israel’s Arab opposition parties, who are constantly being condemned by Lieberman as disloyal, and probably would be convenient to disappear into a military prison during key election periods.
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