The last week has seen, as of Nov. 28, the release of 69 civilians held hostage in Gaza in exchange for 180 Palestinian prisoners as part of a short-term cease-fire agreement between Israeli authorities and Palestinian armed groups.
While many have rightly hailed the release of civilians held hostage by Hamas after the killings of hundreds of Israelis and other civilians on Oct. 7 — hostage-taking is a war crime — less attention has been focused on why exactly Israel has so many Palestinians in detention and available to trade. And less still on how they got there.
As of Nov. 1, Israeli authorities held nearly 7,000 Palestinians from the occupied territory in detention for alleged security offenses, according to the Israeli human rights organization HaMoked. Far more Palestinians have been arrested since the Oct. 7 attacks in Israel than have been released in the last week. Among those being held are dozens of women and scores of children.
The majority have never been convicted of a crime, including more than 2,000 of them being held in administrative detention, in which the Israeli military detains a person without charge or trial. Such detention can be renewed indefinitely based on secret information, which the detainee is not allowed to see. Administrative detainees are held on the presumption that they might commit an offense at some point in the future. Israeli authorities have held children, human rights defenders and Palestinian political activists, among others, in administrative detention, often for prolonged periods. [Continue reading…]