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Freedom for Amal Nahkleh!

  • Opinion

Panagiotis Gkagkatsis, PhD in Law

Amal Nahkleh is a 17-year-old Palestinian who is being unethically detained in an Israeli prison. Amal suffers from a severe autoimmune system disease that’s called ‘gravis’. 

Gravis is a neuromuscular illness that destroys the communication between the neurons and the muscles, resulting in weakness of the skeletal muscles and acute paralysis of the voluntary muscles (i.e. eyes, mouth, throat, limbs). This is a situation that does not seem to be preoccupying the Israeli occupation forces. 

This article is aiming to raise concern about the terrifying acts of settler occupation and of an imperialist state – the state of Israel – alongside making Amal’s story heard.

Amal was arrested on 2 November, 2020 when police forces raided the car he was in with his friends, resulting in arrests. Amal’s parents paid his bail so that he could be set free, however the military prosecutor suspended his release and extended his detention period in prison, due to ‘confidential information.’ 

This is information that has not been shared with Amal’s lawyers and family goes against basic elements of the rule of law. Israeli forces put Amal in ‘administrative detention. The prosecutor recalled evidence of Amal throwing stones at an Israeli tank when he was 14. You read it right, stones at a tank at the age of 14 seemed to be sufficient cause to hold and detain an ill person in prison. As I am writing this article, Amal’s detention was extended until mid-May.

Administrative detention was a common habit during the rule of the British Empire and is still in widespread use by the Israeli occupation forces. Israeli law states that this type of captivity cannot last for longer than six months, however it does not set a limit on the times that it can be renewed – a convenient legal loophole that serves the inhumane practises of the Israeli state towards Palestinians. 

More than 500 Palestinians are currently being held under administrative detention. Jessica Montell, the leader of an Israeli human rights group suggests that as of September 2021 six minors were being held under administrative detention.

Amal’s situation however differs due to his medical condition. His family, who is rarely allowed to see him, states that Amal had trouble breathing and moving during the military court proceedings. Amal cannot be vaccinated against COVID-19 and is at grave risk since prison settings are not ideal to treat autoimmune diseases such as gravis.  

His father Muamar added that ‘we are all very worried about his health’. The United Nations Relief Work Agency for Palestine (UNRWA) has called for the immediate release of Amal due to his health being at great risk. 

During the trial of Amal, the detainee told the judge that if he does not rule on his immediate release he is going to start a hunger strike, something that will deteriorate his already exhausted body. All of these alarming and disheartening facts are not enough for the Israeli state to order the teenager’s release back to his family, where he can receive adequate treatment and love.

This is just one example of the many cases of systematic and consistent mistreatment and torture of Palestinian people and children from Israeli occupation forces. According to a previous report from the ‘Defense for Children International-Palestine’ organisation, an average of 204 Palestinian children are held in prison every month. In 2021, Israeli forces killed 73 children using arbitrary force. Amal’s situation is a show of the brutality and vindictiveness towards Palestinian people.

Voices from all over the world become louder and louder each year as Israeli forces continue their occupation of Palestinian lands and systematically engage in human rights violations. The state of Israel is defending these accusations with vague statements which are in complete contrast with international legal treaties. In an era where colonisation – in the sense that we know it – is over, Israel keeps exercising settler-occupation in another country. The results of this are evident.

“The practises of a colonising state should not be left in the dark”

Amal’s story needs to be heard and it needs to be heard now. His immediate release is basic adherence to humane principles and respect for international legislation. The practises of a colonising state should not be left in the dark.

Photo Caption: A photograph of Amal Nahkleh (Credits: Alarabiya News)

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