Israel claims that it is fighting the war partly to secure the release of two of its soldiers captured and held by Hizbollah.
Yet Israel has captured and detains without trial hundreds of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.
According to the latest official figures, 750 Palestinians were being held under what is known as “administrative detention”.
The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem says, “Over the years, Israel held Palestinians in prolonged detention without trying them and without informing them of the suspicions against them. While detainees may appeal the detention, neither they nor their attorneys are allowed to see the evidence.”
Ilan Pappe, who wrote in Socialist Worker last week, has an article in the current London Review of Books where he records the extraordinary judicial hearing of one such detainee.
He says, “Any offence, or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time - can expose an ordinary Palestinian to arrest.
“Many of these detainees are classed as manua, ‘forbidden’ in Hebrew. They are denied contact with a lawyer - or with their families - while they are being interrogated.”
The detainee recorded by Pappe is a deputy bank manager from Nablus. The following took place as the case came before the judge after he had already spent a month in jail. He was not allowed in court and his lawyer was not allowed access to him. That day 14 similar cases were being heard:
Lawyer What is the allegation?
Police prosecutor It is all in a secret report.
Lawyer What is he suspected of?
Prosecutor It is all in the secret report. I cannot say. He is engaged with a hostile organisation.
Lawyer Was he in contact with a Hamas person?
Prosecutor I did not say this.
Lawyer Can you tell me what the allegations are in a way that would not harm the investigation?
Lawyer Did he admit the allegation?
Prosecutor It is all in the secret report.
Lawyer I have to know whether my client admitted the allegations.
Judge After looking at the secret report I find that there is no room for a reply.
Lawyer My client has been detained for 34 days. Can I know what was done in this time?
Judge Do not ask him questions he cannot answer.
Lawyer I thought we were in a democratic county. This is about human rights, not even civic rights. What can I ask about?
The judge extended the detention for 18 days. The defendant remains in an Israeli prison not knowing what he is accused of or when he will be released.
Go to www.btselem.org for details