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Family denies that detained son is a Hamas operative, say he is 'mentally unstable'

Dec. 29, 2016 9:33 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 30, 2016 12:19 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The family of a detained Palestinian whom Israel accused of being involved in “sniper exercises” and tunnel-digging with the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement in Gaza, denied on Thursday that their son had any affiliation with the group, and that he is mentally unstable.

Israeli authorities said on Wednesday that they detained Bilal Razineh last month, according to Israeli media reports that emerged after an Israeli-issued gag order was lifted on the case.

According to Israeli news site Ynet, Razineh was detained by Israel's security agency the Shin Bet after he crossed into Israel from Gaza.

Hebrew-language site NRG reported that Razineh told interrogators that his brother Mustafa served as chief of internal security in the Hamas-run government in the Gaza Strip.

In addition, he allegedly mentioned during interrogation that a tunnel was dug from his family's home in the northern Gaza Strip that connected to other tunnels used for storing ammunition and fighting equipment.

The report claimed that Razineh told Israeli interrogators that a number of Hamas' leaders, included his brother, were steering the battle from inside Gaza's Kamal Udwan hospital during the 2014 Israeli military offensive on the small Palestinian territory. He also mentioned that several commanders from Gaza's internal security were involved in the fighting and "used residents' houses" in military activities, according to NRG report.

Al-Razayneh’s family however, said in a statement on Thursday that their son was in no way related to the Brigades, that he was not a Hamas government employee as alleged by Israeli authorities, and that he has not worked for the Hamas movement at any point.

The family said that Razineh suffers from psychological instability and was being treated at the time of his detention, and added that they have proof that their son is psychologically unstable.

The statement added that all the confessions that Razineh made under interrogation were “pulled out of him under physical and psychological torture.”

Israel's interrogation practices have long been a target of scrutiny and condemnation by rights group who have documented numerous cases of Israeli intelligence officers forcing confessions -- particularly of Palestinian children -- by various unlawful measures, including torture.

According to the statement, the family was informed by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) that Razineh was hospitalized during his detention and interrogation.

Members of the family also firmly rejected the Israeli claim that a tunnel existed under their house, saying the allegation was “unbelievable.”

"The house is open for anyone to check,” they said.

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