JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel has extended the detention of a Palestinian teenager with a rare neuromuscular disorder who has been held without charge for a year in what authorities refer to as administrative detention, his father said Tuesday.
Amal Nakhleh, who was detained in January 2021 and turned 18 this week, was one of just a handful of minors being held in administrative detention. He had a tumor removed from his lung in 2020 and suffers from myasthenia gravis, a nerve disorder that causes severe muscle fatigue.
His father, Muamar, confirmed that his detention has been extended until mid-May. He said Israel has yet to charge his son or provide any justification for detaining him.
“We are very worried about his health,” he said.
He says his son requires regular hospital visits for testing and needs a calm environment. At a recent court appearance, he said Amal appeared unable to move the muscles in his face, a symptom of the disease.
The Israeli military has said the teenager was detained for “being involved with weapons and terrorist activity” without providing details, and that previous extensions of his detention were approved by military courts. It did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
The use of administrative detention has galvanized demonstrations across the occupied West Bank in recent months as several adult prisoners have gone on hunger strike to protest being held for months or years without charge. Some have secured their release after months of fasting that left them hospitalized and at risk of permanent neurological damage.
Israel says administrative detention, which is rarely used for minors, is needed to prevent imminent attacks or to detain dangerous militants without disclosing sensitive intelligence. Rights groups say it further denies due process to Palestinians already living under military rule. Around 500 Palestinians are currently being held in administrative detention.
The European Union delegation to the Palestinian territories called for Nakhleh's release.
“Under international law, children and their rights must be protected, and the use of administrative detention without formal charges must cease,” it tweeted.