On June 13, 2016, the Jerusalem Post published, “Amnesty slams IDF for administrative detention of circus clown,” regarding the detention of Muhammad Abu Saha, a suspected activist with the PFLP terror organization arrested in December 2015 for allegedly plotting a terror attack. The article repeats unverified claims made by Amnesty in a press release issued the same day, “Israel renews detention without charge of Palestinian circus performer for further six months.”
In its statement, Amnesty attempts to deflect from the seriousness of the allegations against Abu Saha by emphasizing that he “performs as a clown and teaches at the Palestinian Circus School in Birzeit, near Ramallah, where he specializes in working with children with learning difficulties” – as if working with children provides immunity for the commission of criminal acts.
Despite Amnesty’s attempts to scrub Saha’s background, as documented by blogger Elder of Ziyon, Abu Saha’s Facebook page contains violent imagery.
Most egregiously, Amnesty describes the PFLP as “a left-wing political party with an armed wing, banned by Israel,” when in fact, it is a terrorist organization as designated by Israel, the US, the EU, Canada, and Australia, and is responsible for airline hijackings, suicide bombings, and mass shooting, and stabbings of civilians.
Amnesty also accuses Israel of employing “arbitrary and repressive” and “abusive use of administrative detention,” and denying “even the slightest semblance of justice.” Amnesty further claims that Israel “detain[s] people indefinitely without charge or trial. [But] Under international law, its use is only permitted in exceptional circumstances and when subjected to stringent safeguards.” As in many other terror cases, Amnesty, falsely and without any basis, accuses Israel of arresting Abu Saha to “suppress peaceful dissent.”
Despite Amnesty’s claims, administrative detention is used by many countries around the world, including the U.S., Australia, the United Kingdom, and Ireland, and is often a necessary measure in counterterror operations. Furthermore, in Israel, administrative detention is subject to due process and extensive checks and balances and compares favorably to international standards. Any decisions relating to detention can be appealed to the Military Court of Appeals and can be, and often are, challenged at the Israeli High Court of Justice. This essential information is mission from Amnesty’s account.
Based on Amnesty’s history of bias in its reporting on Israel (see here) and continued minimizing of terror operations against Israeli civilians (see here), it is not surprising to see yet another politicized attack on Israel whitewashing terror groups like the PFLP. What is surprising, however, is that the Jersualem Post gave publicity to this non-credible NGO.