Tuesday, May 23
Latest News
  1. Officials identify Palestinian teen killed at West Bank checkpoint
  2. Trump to meet with Abbas in Bethlehem during brief visit in West Bank
  3. EU missions condemn death sentences issued in Gaza
  4. Israeli forces detain 5 Palestinians in Beit Ummar
  5. Palestinian shot and injured by Israeli forces with live fire in Gaza
  6. Israeli forces kill Palestinian in alleged stabbing attempt
  7. Clashes erupt in Beit Ummar as Israeli forces raid the village
  8. 13 Palestinians shot, injured, in clashes in Ramallah, Hebron
  9. Israel returns body of slain Jordanian citizen to Jordanians
  10. Heightened security measures in Israel, West Bank for Trump's visit

PA police suppress protest against decision to try prisoners linked to Basel al-Araj

March 12, 2017 2:53 P.M. (Updated: March 13, 2017 12:45 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Palestinian police violently suppressed a demonstration on Sunday afternoon in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, after locals gathered in protest of a case against slain activist Basel al-Araj and five other Palestinians who were imprisoned alongside him last year by the Palestinian Authority (PA).

There were also reports of clashes erupting between Palestinian security forces and demonstrators in the Bethlehem-area Duheisha refugee camp on Sunday evening following a similar protest.

Several protesters were detained in Ramallah, and at least 11 were injured -- including Mahmoud al-Araj, Basel's father --- in the clashes on Sunday afternoon. Police assaulted journalists and prevented them from covering the event, while some reported that their equipment had been broken.

Mahmoud al-Araj was hospitalized, and told reporters that he would launch a hunger strike if all Palestinians detained during the march were not immediately released. Six protesters who had been detained were then released, among them prominent Islamic Jihad member Khader Adnan.

PA forces were heavily deployed in the area, suppressing the demonstration with tear gas and beating protesters with batons.

Some of those who were assaulted by police were identified by witnesses as Palestine TV reporter Jihad Barkat, cameraman for Jordanian outlet Roya TV Muhammad Abu Shusha, Roya TV reporter Hafith Abu Sabra, reporter for Ramallah-based Watan agency Ahmad Milhem, lawyer Farid al-Atrash, and Omar Assaf.

Mahmoud al-Araj said that PA security forces assault against participants in the Ramallah protest was an assault on his son's memory and a violation of citizens’ rights.

“Everyone who gave orders to assault demonstrators must held accountable for their actions,” al-Araj said following the protest.

Al-Atrash said that he had called the police chief asking him to refrain from ordering the use of violence against demonstrators, but that PA security forces assaulted the protesters with baton, including al-Atrash himself, who fainted in the clashes.

“What happened today in Ramallah is a crime,” al-Atrash said, calling Sunday a “dark day” for human rights.

The Union of Palestinian Journalists also condemned the assault on journalists in Ramallah, calling the police violence a “dangerous turn” of events.

Al-Atrash said that he had called the police chief asking him to refrain from ordering the use of violence against demonstrators, but that PA security forces assaulted the protesters with baton, including al-Atrash himself, who fainted in the clashes.

“What happened today in Ramallah is a crime,” al-Atrash said, calling Sunday a “dark day” for human rights.

The Union of Palestinian Journalists also condemned the assault on journalists in Ramallah, calling the police violence a “dangerous turn” of events.

PA security forces spokesman Adnan al-Dmeiri, meanwhile, accused “mercenaries” and “foreign agents” of sparking clashes to cause internal Palestinian strife, and called the protests “cheap incitement” whose initiators should be apprehended, echoing Israeli security forces lingo.


On the other hand, the Fatah movement, the ruling party of the PA, called for the respect of freedom of speech and the right to peaceful protest, while adding that such rights should fall “within limits” and in accordance with the law.

Lawyer Farid al-Atrash

Mahmoud al-Araj

Basel al-Araj, Muhammad Harb, Haitham Siyaj, Muhammad al-Salamin, Seif al-Idrissi, and Ali Dar al-Sheikh, were detained and tortured by Palestinian security forces in April last year, after the PA accused them of illegal weapons possession and planning an attack on Israel.

A hunger strike launched by the six ultimately led to their release six months later in September, with charges only being brought against them shortly before their release.

However, Harb, Siyaj, al-Salamin, and al-Idrissi were detained by Israeli forces immediately after being freed, eliciting outrage among Palestinians over the PA’s policy of security coordination with Israel.

Al-Araj remained in hiding, and after several months on the run, Israeli forces ambushed him last week in a home near Ramallah and shot him dead, in what was branded as an “execution” and an “assassination” of the 31-year-old, who was beloved in Palestinian activist circles as a freedom fighter, an intellectual, and a theorist.

The killing has evoked a strong emotional response among activist youth, who took to the streets on Sunday after the Ramallah district court announced that al-Araj’s fellow prisoners in the case would still be tried in court for allegedly possessing weapons and planning an attack on Israel, despite the fact that four of the men remained held in Israeli custody. According to local outlet PNN, Ali Dar al-Sheikh was not in Israeli custody and was present at the court session in Ramallah on Sunday.

Palestinian news outlet al-Quds Network reported that lawyer Muhannad Karaja had previously requested that the Ramallah magistrate court drop the charges against Harb, Siyaj, al-Salamin, and al-Idrissi, and that the judge had requested that the lawyer present documentation that proved that the four were actually being detained by Israel.

When Karaja presented a certificate of proof to the judge during Sunday’s court session, the judge disregarded it, and insisted on postponing the trial until April 30, reportedly saying that “the four might be out of Israeli prisons” by that date, according to al-Quds.

Karaja said that the judge dropped charges against al-Araj only after his death certificate was presented in court.

In response to the case, the Hamas movement released a statement denouncing the trial as a “dangerous” measure and representative of the “systematic defamation of Palestinian resistance.” The statement said that the move was a testament to the “moral decline” of a “disgraced” Palestinian Authority.
Powered By: HTD Technologies
Ma'an News Agency
All rights reserved © 2005-2017