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Fatah officials reopen road after being blocked by Qalandiya refugee camp activists

March 8, 2017 11:29 A.M. (Updated: March 8, 2017 1:06 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Officials from the Fatah movement's office in the Qalandiya refugee camp reopened a main road in the central occupied West Bank between Ramallah and Jerusalem, after it had been blocked earlier Wednesday morning by protesters demanding that the Palestinian Authority (PA) intervene in the case of Jamal Abu al-Leil, on hunger strike in Israeli prison.

Activist youth from Qalandiya refugee camp have been staging ongoing protests over the perceived inaction by the Fatah-dominated PA in securing the release Abu al-Leil, a resident of the camp who has been held by Israel without trial or charge for more than a year.

Local youth placed earth mounds in the middle of the street early Wednesday morning, closing the main commuter road in both directions, creating severe traffic jams.

The closure came after a statement announcing that the road would be closed for two days was reportedly released by the Qalandiya refugee camp offshoot of Fatah's military wing the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. However, the brigades issued a statement later Wednesday saying denying they had made the announcement.

Local activists blocked the same road for at least four consecutive days last week, as other sit-ins and marches have been organized in solidarity with Palestinian hunger strikers in recent weeks.

Abu al-Leil, a former member of Fatah’s revolutionary council, declared a hunger strike on Feb. 16 along with fellow resident of Qalandiya refugee camp Raed Mteir, after they had both been imprisoned by Israel without charge or trial under administrative detention.

Mteir ended his hunger strike after going 12 days without food, after reaching an agreement to be released in April 2017 without his administrative detention being renewed.

The two joined journalist Muhammad al-Qiq, who has been on hunger strike for 27 days in protest of his administrative detention. Al-Qiq was last released from Israeli prison in May last year after he refused food for a grueling 94 days -- also in protest of his administrative detention at the time.

However, al-Qiq was redetained in mid-January, and Israeli authorities have continued to hold al-Qiq without presenting any evidence or charges against him.

While Israeli authorities claim the withholding of evidence during administrative detention, which allows detention for three- to six-month renewable intervals, is essential for state security concerns, rights groups have instead claimed that the policy allows Israeli authorities to hold Palestinians for an indefinite period of time without showing any evidence that could justify their detentions.

Rights groups say that Israel's administrative detention policy has also been used as an attempt to disrupt Palestinian political and social processes, notably targeting Palestinian politicians, activists, and journalists.

Meanwhile, the PA has long been accused of security coordination with Israel and what critics have called "a revolving door policy" of funneling Palestinians from PA jails into Israeli prisons through politically motivated arrests.

Outrage over the practice has reignited in recent days after Israeli forces killed prominent Palestinian activist Basel al-Araj after being pursued by Israel for months following the 31-year-old's release from PA prison last year.

The Hamas movement reacted to the killing by calling for a "joint national effort by all Palestinian factions and the various national institutions to put an end to the disgraceful security collaboration between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli occupation, which allows the occupation troops to arrest and target the resistors."
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