Israeli court extends Ahmed Manasra’s solitary confinement for four more months

Manasra (20) has spent over seven years in prison and has been in solitary confinement for over a year now. It is feared that his mental health is likely to deteriorate further after Thursday’s verdict 

November 25, 2022 by Peoples Dispatch
Ahmed Manasra
(Photo: Samidoun)

On Thursday, November 24, an Israeli court in Beer Sheva extended the solitary confinement of Palestinian political prisoner Ahmed Manasra (20) for four more months. This is despite his lawyers and human rights groups expressing apprehension about the possible effects of prolonged solitary confinement on his mental health. 

The Israeli court agreed with the state’s contention that Manasra’s mental condition was a threat to his safety and ordered that “isolation [of Manasra] is necessary” for his own safety as well as that of his co-prisoners and “to maintain order and discipline in the prison.” 

Manasra has been under solitary confinement for over a year now. The Israeli authorities justify his isolation by claiming that they possess “secret evidence” that he is a threat to himself and his fellow prisoners.  

The decision of the court invited sharp reactions from human rights groups in Israel and elsewhere, who have been demanding Manasra’s immediate release from prison on the grounds of his deteriorating mental health. 

Adalah, legal center for Arab minority rights in Israel, said in a press release on Thursday that Manasra’s continued imprisonment in isolation amounts to “torture and ill-treatment, and stand[s] in violation of international human rights law.”   

Adalah claimed that the “Israeli judiciary systematically uses secret evidence to justify decisions that violate the human rights of Palestinians in all areas under Israeli control.” 

A victim of Israel’s systematic violation of Palestinian children’s rights

Manasra, a resident of occupied East Jerusalem, was sentenced to nine and half years in prison when he was just 14 by an Israeli court. The court ruled that though Manasra was not involved in the “attempted murder” of Israeli settlers in 2015, he had “intentions” to kill.  

At the time of Manasra’s arrest, he was just 13 years old. His cousin Hassan Manasra had been shot and killed by an illegal settler after two settlers were allegedly attacked by him. Manasra was also beaten up by the settlers and was run over by an Israeli driver. He sustained a skull fracture and was left bleeding on the ground. He was later reportedly tortured during interrogation in custody.  

Furthermore, his trial was deliberately delayed so that he could be given a harsher punishment as the Israeli parliament was already debating a bill to allow jail terms for Palestinian children as young as 14. 

According to Samidoun – Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, Manasra’s mental health gradually deteriorated due to the effects of these events. His mental health further deteriorated in prison. 

Manasra has already served over two-thirds of his prison term, which makes him eligible for early release from prison on health grounds. However, anticipating such appeals, the Israeli occupation authorities in June categorized his case under “terrorism,” which provided grounds for the courts to reject appeals for his early release. 

Two such appeals have been rejected in July and September by the Beer Sheva court.  

Adalah stated that an independent doctor has observed that Manasra’s isolation would lead to further deterioration in his mental health and that he requires immediate medical assistance outside the prison.  

Various other human rights groups have called for Manasra’s release. Over 430,000 people from across the globe also signed an online petition for his release.

On Thursday, the European Union issued calls for Manasra’s release, noting that as per the UN rules, any solitary confinement for more than 15 days amounts to torture.