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Saturday, Feb 24, 2024

Release of Palestinian Prisoners Highlights Controversial Israeli Justice System in the Occupied West Bank

Release of Palestinian Prisoners Highlights Controversial Israeli Justice System in the Occupied West Bank

Israel's decision to release Palestinian prisoners highlights issues within its West Bank justice system. Fatima Shahin was imprisoned for seven months without formal charges and was among 39 Palestinians exchanged for Israeli hostages as part of a ceasefire with Hamas. To date, 180 Palestinians have been freed, many of whom, like Shahin, were detained without being charged or tried.
Israel operates two legal systems in the West Bank one military for Palestinians and one civilian for Jewish settlers. Human rights groups such as B'Tselem criticize this as a means for Israel to maintain control over Palestinians.

Shahin claims she was accused of a stabbing attack and shot during her arrest, resulting in paralysis. Although Israeli authorities contend the released prisoners were convicted of serious crimes, most were not formally charged.

The Israeli Ministry of Justice listed 300 Palestinians eligible for release, many under administrative detention a practice permitting indefinite detention without charge, frequently criticized internationally and deemed "cruel" and "inhumane" by UN experts.

Israel's use of administrative detention has been increasing, reaching a high since the Second Intifada in 2003. This includes detaining minors, with current laws allowing children as young as 12 to be imprisoned.

Released prisoner Malak Salman, convicted of attempted murder as a minor, served almost eight years before her release. Celebrations for returning detainees are suppressed, with Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir equating them to support for terrorism.

Moreover, Israel has expanded its crackdown on Palestinians under the Counter Terrorism Law, with increased arrests for social media posts reflecting solidarity with Gaza or referencing the Quran.

Children detained by Israel face military courts, with their treatment falling short of international juvenile justice standards. Reports suggest that a significant number of detained Palestinian children experience abuse and harsh interrogation practices.

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