Detention Policy in the West Bank - Discrimination Between Israelis and Palestinians
The authority to detain enables law enforcement officials to restrict one’s freedom of movement for a limited period of time based on the suspicion that an offense has been committed, or to prevent the execution of an offense. In the West Bank, the authority to detain Israeli citizens is regulated through the “Detention Act,” whereas the authority to detain Palestinian residents is regulated through the “Order Regarding Security Directives.” While both pieces of legislation deal with the authority to detain people in the same area, they stipulate different arrangements: a police officer detaining an Israeli citizen is required to provide an explanation for the detention, identify themselves, and fill out a report on the circumstances of the detention if it lasts over 20 minutes. Whereas a soldier or police officer detaining a Palestinian resident in the same exact area, is not required to explain anything unless the duration of the detention exceeds three hours.
On December 26, 2021, we appealed to the head of the IDF Central Command and the Military Advocate General. In our appeal, Attorney Roni Pelli argued that the gaps in the respective policies that apply to Israelis and Palestinians, constitute a discriminatory and disproportionate violation of Palestinian residents’ constitutional rights to liberty and due process. Such different provisions toward people living in the same area, solely due to their ethno-national affiliation, are unacceptable. Attorney Pelli clarified that these discrepancies do not serve a security purpose, as the sole purpose of both the obligation to identify oneself and the obligation to report, is to enable oversight of law enforcement authorities and prevent arbitrary detention. We thus sought to compare the regulations pertaining to detention, irrespective of the detainees’ identities.