The release of Palestinian prisoners in a recent exchange for Israeli hostages has brought attention to Israel’s controversial justice system in the occupied West Bank. Many of the released prisoners, including Fatima Shahin, were detained without being charged, tried, or given the opportunity to defend themselves. Some were not even informed of the reasons for their detention.
The West Bank operates under a military justice system that allows Israel to hold individuals indefinitely without trial or charge. This system has been in place since Israel captured the area in 1967, with Palestinians subject to the jurisdiction of Israeli military courts, while Jewish settlers are under civil courts.
A legal adviser to the Israel Defense Forces’ Department of International Law explained that the different systems exist because international law prohibits Israel from “exporting” its legal system to the West Bank.
B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights organization, has criticized the military courts for maintaining Israel’s control over the Palestinian people. The release of the 39 Palestinians sheds light on the ongoing challenges and controversies surrounding Israel’s justice system in the occupied West Bank.