Small Wars Journal

Ideas Imprisoned - Part V: Recommendations to the Government of Israel & Conclusions

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 6:47am

Ideas Imprisoned - Part V: Recommendations to the Government of Israel & Conclusions

J. David Thompson

SWJ Note - This is a multipart series exploring administrative detention in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.

Ideas Imprisoned: Administrative Detention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Conditions of Imprisonment, and the Role of the International Community (Introduction to 5 Parts)

Ideas Imprisoned - Part I: Administrative Detention

Ideas Imprisoned - Part II: Conditions of Imprisonment

Ideas Imprisoned - Part III: International Legal Norms

Ideas Imprisoned - Part IV: Rethinking the International Approach

The international community is not the only one that should change while also continuing traditional avenues of utilizing international law. The Government of Israel should also implement some changes.


(1) End the process of administrative detention.

(2) Withholding evidence from the accused’s representative during an administrative hearing seems even more absurd when the law prohibits the public from attending the proceeding. A simple gag order on the representative should suffice in preventing spillage of classified intelligence while protecting the integrity of the system. Allow, at least, the representative of the accused to see the evidence.

(3) Eight days of detention prior to appearing before a judge threatens a person’s livelihood in an already fragile system. Reduce the amount of time a person may be administratively detained prior to seeing a judge to comply with Israeli criminal procedure or the Emergency Law.

(4) All of the treaties the Government of Israel signed and ratified occurred after its occupation and state of emergency. Despite this, the Government of Israel failed to make any relevant declarations or reservations of how it interprets its obligations under the treaty. The Government of Israel stated its position in its responses to reviews. If signing onto an international treaty, make a declaration into how the Government interprets its obligations under the treaty.

(5) Cease obstructionist policies that inhibit economic growth and development in the oPt.

(6) Provide training on civil-military relations for military commanders. Civil-military training may help commanders better understand pathways to radicalization, human rights, humanitarian law, and how to lessen the negative impacts of military operations on civilian populations.


Ideas Imprisoned encompasses two major groups: those imprisoned for their ideas and those imprisoned by their ideas. The first major group, those imprisoned for their ideas, are the Palestinians held in administrative detention due to exercising their basic human rights of freedom of expression and freedom of association. This group does not include anyone legitimately held in administrative detention as permitted by humanitarian law. Humanitarian law permits administrative detention in extreme circumstances—even though many advocates think this practice as a whole should be overturned. Lawful administrative detention, though, is not an excuse to circumvent the criminal justice system. Lawful administrative detention does not permit detaining someone for unfavorable ideas manifested through words or associations.

The second major group, those imprisoned by their ideas, encompasses two sub-groups. These sub-groups include: the Government of Israel that uses administrative detention to suppress ideas that it finds challenging and the international community that discourages alternative avenues to gain influence and promote dialogue. The first sub-group will not change if the second group cannot effectively communicate why it is advantageous for the first group to change.

The second sub-group, the international community that fails to consider alternative approaches, must do better. The international community must review the effectiveness to date of traditional diplomatic methods of exerting international law. The international community must work to find common ground where currently available to identify shard values and promote dialogue. This means exploring new methods outside the norms of diplomacy by working with the private sector, increasing trade, and expanding development. If those imprisoned by their ideas do not find a way to break free of their mental prison and explore new thoughts, we may never effectively help those imprisoned for their ideas.

Categories: Israel

About the Author(s)

J. David Thompson is a Civil Affairs Major. He has a Juris Doctorate from Washington Lee School of Law. He also holds a BS in Economics and MBA-Leadership from Liberty University. Outside the military, he's worked at the UN Refugee Agency, Department of Defense, and Physicians for Human Rights – Israel. Follow him on Twitter @jdthompson910