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UN bodies call for release of sick Palestinian teen held by ‘israel’ under administrative detention

A number of the United Nations agencies have called upon the Israeli regime to immediately release a Palestinian teenager with a rare neuromuscular disorder, who has been held without charge for a year in what authorities refer to as administrative detention.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said in a joint statement on Thursday that neither Amal Nakhleh, who was detained in January 2021 and turned 18 this week, nor his lawyers and family have been informed of the reasons for his arrest and detention.

“Amal suffers from a severe autoimmune disease that requires continuous medical treatment and monitoring,” the UN agencies said, calling for his “immediate and unconditional release from detention in line with international human rights law.”

“According to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, every child deprived of his or her liberty shall have the right to prompt access to legal and other appropriate assistance, as well as the right to challenge the legality of the deprivation of his or her liberty before a court or other competent, independent, and impartial authority, and to a prompt decision on any such action,” the statement underscored.

“Amal’s case is one of the more prolonged cases where a Palestinian child has been detained without charge or trial. It is, however, not an isolated case. Currently, at least another three Palestinians are in administrative detention who were under the age of 18 when first detained,” the UN bodies pointed out.

“We echo the calls of the UN secretary-general (António Guterres), who in his annual reports regarding the impact of armed conflict on children, urges Israel to end the administrative detention of children. This practice deprives children of their liberty and must immediately end,” the statement said.

On Tuesday, the European Union Delegation to the Palestinians (DPAL) called on Israeli officials to cease the imprisonment without charge or trial of the chronically-ill Palestinian teenager.

Israeli forces first arrested Nakhleh in the occupied West Bank back in November 2020.

His family said Amal was out with friends at the time after he had undergone surgery to remove a cancerous mass. The teen suffers from myasthenia gravis – a rare neuromuscular disease.

Nakhleh was accused of throwing stones at Israeli soldiers, and was held for 40 days. He was then set free by an Israeli judge.

In January last year, the ill Palestinian teen was re-arrested and placed in administrative detention, which has now been renewed again.

Neither Amal nor his family are aware of the charges against him and have been informed by the Israeli authorities that it is a “confidential administrative case.”

Amal’s severe autoimmune disease requires continuous medical treatment and monitoring. Due to his health conditions, he cannot be vaccinated against COVID-19 and must take immune-suppressants, meaning that his life is at high risk if he contracts the coronavirus.

There are reportedly more than 7,000 Palestinians held at Israeli jails. Hundreds of the inmates have been apparently incarcerated under the practice of the so-called administrative detention.

Palestinians and human rights groups say “administrative detention” violates the right to due process since evidence is withheld from prisoners while they are held for lengthy periods without being charged, tried, or convicted.

The detention takes place on orders from a military commander and on the basis of what the Israeli regime describes as ‘secret’ evidence. 

Rights groups describe Israel’s use of administrative detention as a “bankrupt tactic” and have long called on the regime to bring the practice to an end.

Earlier this month, the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) said Israeli officials issued 1,595 administrative detention orders against Palestinians in the occupied territories in 2021, with 200 Palestinians detained under the inhumane policy in May when the regime launched the 11-day war on the besieged Gaza Strip.

The PPS said 60 Palestinian detainees, who were mostly held in administrative detention, have resorted to hunger strike to regain their freedom, including Hisham Abu Hawwash. Abu Hawwash, who had been on hunger strike for 141 days, agreed earlier this month to end his fast after reaching a deal with Israel to be released next month.

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