JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel is detaining 800 Palestinians without charge or trial, the highest number since 2008, an Israeli human rights group said Sunday.
The HaMoked group said that 798 Palestinians are currently under administrative detention, that is, a status in which they are not told the charges or the evidence against them.
The group said the number of Palestinians in administrative detention has increased significantly this year, as Israel has carried out several operations in the West Bank in response to a wave of attacks against Israelis.
Israel maintains that it uses such detention only in exceptional cases to prevent terrorist attacks or to prevent dangerous terrorists from going free, and in order to avoid disclosing its intelligence sources.
Palestinians and human rights groups denounce that it is an abusive system that denies the right to due process, and that in some cases the prisoners have spent months or even years without knowing the charges or the evidence against them.
Some Palestinians go on hunger strike in protest, and this aggravates tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.
“Administrative detention should be an exceptional measure but it is widely applied by Israel,” said Jessica Montell, executive director of HaMoked.
“This must stop. If Israel cannot bring them to trial, it must release those in administrative detention,” she added.