Israel sentences Palestinian writer Ahmad Qatamish to administrative detention

Israel sentenced Palestinian writer and political scientist Ahmad Qatamish to three months in administrative detention on Wednesday, prisoners rights group Addameer reported, three days after he was detained from his home in the central occupied West Bank.

Qatamish, 66, was detained in the city of al-Bireh in the central occupied West Bank on Sunday night, when Israeli soldiers raided and thoroughly searched his house, damaging some of his possessions.

According to Addameer, a hearing will be held in the Ofer military court within eight days to confirm the administrative detention sentence — Israel’s widely condemned policy of internment without trial or charge.

Addameer “strongly” condemned Qatamish’s detention, and said it was a sign that he was “still being targeted for his writings and activism.”

The organization went on to call administrative detention a “grave violation of international laws and human rights standards,” notably the right to a fair trial.

Qatamish had already spent years in Israeli prisons, most recently a two-and-a-half-year stint under administrative detention from which he was released four years ago.

He had previously spent several spells in Israeli prisons and also spent 17 years in hiding from 1976 to 1992 to avoid rearrest.

In the 1990s, Qatamish was held by Israel without charge for six years, writing about his experiences of torture and ill treatment in his prison memoir “I Shall not Wear Your Tarboush (fez).”

Following an international campaign for his release, he was freed in 1998, and has since been banned from traveling outside Palestinian territory.

His arrest in April 2011 and subsequent administrative detention sentence sparked outrage, after Addameer reported that Israeli authorities had hastily slapped together the administrative detention order by forging his name on someone else’s order.

The order stated that the writer was suspected of being a Hamas member, a claim Addameer called “absurd” as Israeli police had accused Qatamish the previous week of membership to the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the group with which he has historically been associated.

Administrative detention orders, based on undisclosed evidence, are indefinitely renewable for up to six-month periods. Qatamish’s order was renewed at least six times during his last detention.

Rights groups have long accused Israel of using administrative detention and widespread incarceration as a tool to erode family and political life in the Palestinian territory.