Security Prisoner
Security Detainee
Administrative Detainee
Obligation of an occupying power to respect human rights in an occupied territory: al-Khiam Prison in South Lebanon
1951/99 | documents: 2  |  Updates: 0 Al-Khiam Prison in South Lebanon operated under Israeli aegis from the mid 1980's until the Israeli military withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000. Throughout this period, hundreds of detainees, including minors, were held in al Khiam Prison, unlawfully, outside any legal framework, without any judicial proceedings or charges, without access to an attorney or judge. Detainees were kept in degrading and inhuman conditions for years on end. Most were subjected to cruel interrogation methods including severe torture. According to an Amnesty International report from 1997, at least 11 detainees died at al Khiam since 1985, some as a result of torture or inadequate medical treatment.

In 1998, HaMoked requested the military’s permission to visit al Khiam Prison, meet with detainees and assess conditions. The military responded that the prison was not run by Israel but by the South Lebanon Army (SLA); that under the prison regulations, visits by Israelis were prohibited, and that Israel could not intervene in the matter.

The petitions
In March 1999, HaMoked and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel filed a Habeas Corpus petition to the High Court of Justice (HCJ) to instruct the Minister of Defense to release four detainees from al Khiam Prison or conversely, allow their attorneys to visit them in prison. Similar petitions were later filed by HaMoked and other human rights organizations on behalf of additional detainees. The organizations asserted that through the Israeli military and the SLA, Israel had effective control of South Lebanon, and therefore, under the HCJ rulings and international law, Israel was the occupying power in the area with the obligation to ensure human rights therein.

In the petition, the organizations stressed that Israel was in fact exercising administrative functions in South Lebanon, supplying vital services for the local population and investing in infrastructure, and regardless, maintained effective military control in the region; that the Israeli military was closely collaborating with the SLA, which was in effect subordinated to the Israeli authorities; and that Israel was actively involved in the events in al Khiam Prison, participating in interrogations and acts of torture, as well as controlled the release of detainees.

The organizations further contended that Israel was breaching its obligation as an occupying power to respect human rights in an area under belligerent occupation: the holding of detainees in al Khiam without any legal proceedings was unlawful under public international law and a blatant violation of Israeli constitutional law. The Israeli refusal to allow the detainees to meet their attorneys constituted a severe harm to their right to due process. The degrading holding conditions and constant use of torture blatantly contrast the rights to dignity and bodily integrity, both basic principles in international and Israeli law.

The HCJ issued an order nisi instructing the state to justify the continued detention of the petitioners.

The state's response
The state requested the petition be dismissed and supplemented to its response an affidavit by Major General Dan Halutz, then head of the operations branch. The state asserted that Israel did not possess effective control in South Lebanon; that the SLA was not subordinate to the Israeli military and that al Khiam Prison was being run by the SLA and no Israeli soldiers were present there. Nonetheless, the state acknowledged that Israel and the SLA were "conferring" regarding the incarceration and release of detainees from al Khiam.

The state's response to these petitions revealed additional facts regarding the Israeli presence and effective control in South Lebanon: Israel annually gave millions of USD in civilian aid for the local population, and tens of millions to the SLA; The Israeli military supplied the SLA with weaponry, maintenance and training of troops; Israel had three military bases and 12 outposts in South Lebanon and constructed several bypass roads in the region; at Israel’s request, the SLA terminated the visits to al Khiam Prison of families and representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross, as a pressure means for the return of the body of an Israeli soldier; the SLA did in fact release detainees from al Khiam at Israel's behest, as part of the deal for the return of the soldier's body; members of the Israel Security Service actively participated in interrogations in al Khiam and provided professional instruction and training to SLA members; the warders and interrogators received their salaries directly from Israel; Israel also funded renovations in the prison.

Despite the clearly stated facts in its response, the state persisted that it had no effective control in South Lebanon, and so, had no responsibility for events in al Khiam Prison. 

Following the filing of the petitions, ahead of any court hearing, Israel released several detainees from al Khiam. On May 22, 2000, immediately after the Israeli withdrawal from South Lebanon, Lebanese citizens took control of al Khiam Prison – one of the symbols of Israeli occupation and oppression of South Lebanon – and released all detainees. The organizations requested the court to delete their petitions.

HCJ 1951/99 - Ramadan et al. v. the Minister of Defense et al. Affidavit in Response
Statement  |  1951/99  |  28.9.1999
Affidavit by Major General Dan Halutz, supplement to the State's response to a Habeas Corpus petition by HaMoked and ACRI for the release of four detainees from Al Khiam Prison. Halutz attempts to substantiate the State's claim that Israel has no effective control in South Lebanon, but his affidavit contains additional facts which support the organizations' claim about Israel's presence and eff...
Israel’s Forgotten Hostages: Lebanese Detainees in Israel and Khiam Detention Centre
Report  |  15.7.1997
An Amnesty International report on the detention and holding conditions of Lebanese nationals, held in Israel and in Khiam Detention Centre, operating under Israeli aegis in south Lebanon. The report suggests that for years, hundreds of detainees, including minors, have been held at Khiam Detention Centre, under appalling and inhuman conditions, and that most of them were subjected to severe an... (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

red-id | רד אינטראקטיב