Mohammad Othman, the BDS campaigner who was detained by Israel upon returning from a speaking tour in Norway, was given three months administrative detention yesterday in an Israeli military court. Othman had been held 63 days without charge before the court agreed to the prosecution”s request for administrative dentention. Othman has been under nearly constant interrogation during this time.
Administrative detention is a common tool Israel uses to suppress Palestinian dissent. It is an open ended sentence that is commonly extended with little transparency or justification. From B”Tselem:
Administrative detention is detention without charge or trial, authorized by administrative order rather than by judicial decree. It is allowed under international law, but, because of the serious injury to due process rights inherent in this measure and the obvious danger of abuse, international law has placed rigid restrictions on its application. Administrative detention is intended to prevent the danger posed to state security by a particular individual. Israel, however, has never defined the criteria for what constitutes “state security.”
This last point is the important one. How does Othman threathen state security? Mya Guarnieri provides one possible answer an a recent article for Ma”an News titled “Is Israel threatened by the BDS movement?” Guarnieri quotes Middle East analyst Arthur Nelsen:
“The Othman case indicates a fear of the BDS movement among Israel”s political and security elite, particularly when it has the ear of foreign governments.”
Nelsen adds, “Locking up nonviolent opponents suggests a stunning lack of confidence among Israel”s leaders in their ability to argue their case, still less win it. It bears all the hallmarks of an authoritarian campaign to silence nonviolent critics of the occupation.”