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PA detains 4 Palestinians amid mounting criticism of security coordination

June 12, 2017 5:04 P.M. (Updated: June 17, 2017 2:47 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The Hamas movement said in a statement that Palestinian forces in the occupied West Bank detained four Palestinians on Monday, including two lawyers and a former “political prisoner,” and accused the Palestinian Authority (PA) of continuing to detained “tens” of others on charges of a political background -- including a university student who was reportedly arrested for criticizing Fatah on Facebook.

In the village of Rantis in the central occupied West Bank, PA forces detained Muath al-Khatib, and a lawyer identified as Ibrahim Abu Salim, during home raids that coincided with an Israeli army raid in the town that same morning, in which Saeb Abu Salim and Suhaib al-Sheikh were detained.

Hamas said that PA forces also detained former “political detainee” Izz al-Din Frihat, just two months after he was released from Palestinian prison -- where he reportedly launched a hunger strike in protest of his 40-day detention without charge.

PA forces also detained Frihat’s father Yousif during the Monday morning raid, according to the statement.

In the northern occupied West Bank district of Tubas, PA forces ordered Wasim Sawafta to appear for interrogation this coming Thursday, Hamas said.

In the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron, Hamas said that PA forces raided the house of Fayez Nafiz for the fourth time since the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in late May, in attempt to detain him, but failed to do so after searching his house.

The Hamas statement also highlighted that the PA has continued to detain Nasser Jaradat for the fifth day. A Palestinian court in Ramallah ordered to extend Jaradat’s remand by 15 days on Saturday, accord to reports.

The 23-year-old agricultural engineering student and active youth organizer was reportedly detained for writing a Facebook post critical of Fatah Central Committee member Jibril Rujoub, who recently said in an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 that the Western Wall in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City should “remain under Jewish sovereignty.”

Spokesperson for the Palestinian security services Adnan Dmeiri told Ma'an he had "no idea" about Jaradat's case, but said "I can confirm that we don't arrest anybody for expressing their opinion."

However, Palestinian prisoners’ solidarity network Samidoun said that Jaradat’s arrest was part of an ongoing trend of the PA “arresting Palestinians for voicing their political opinions on Facebook,” as part of Israel’s widely condemned policy of security coordination with Israel that critics have described as a “revolving door” that funnels activists from PA jails to Israeli prisons.

Samidoun noted the continued imprisonment of activists of Seif al-Idrissi and Kifah Quzmar by the PA, who the group said have previously been detained detained for social media posts.

“This is a very dangerous path that the Palestinian Authority is taking, targeting people and the resistance. What Nassar Jaradat did is to express his opinion and rejection of Jibril Rujoub’s statement to the Zionist media,” Samidoun quoted Palestinian leftist writer Khalid Barakat as saying.

“The Palestinian Authority is particularly targeting young, dedicated organizers with a vision of liberation for Palestine. No one knows exactly how many Palestinian political detainees are held right now in Palestinian Authority jails or Preventive Security centers,” Barakat said.

The Hamas movement, being the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority’s political rival and one of the PA’s fiercest critics, is one of the few organizations to document arrest by the PA with any regularity -- reports that Ma’an usually is not able to confirm independently.

Hamas claimed in an earlier report that a total of 103 Palestinians were detained by the PA over the month of May, including 67 former prisoners of Israel, 83 former political detainees of PA, three journalists, 15 university students, one high school student, and four imams.

Barakat went on to criticize the “silence of some Palestinian human rights organizations when it comes to the practices of the PA, especially when those PA policies -- and continued ‘security coordination’ with the Israeli occupation -- operate hand in hand with Israeli attacks and mass arrests against the Palestinian people.”

“All of this is an indication that the catastrophic political path that the PA is marching towards. They are gambling with the Palestinian people’s rights in full coordination with the Israeli occupation and under the supervision of Trump’s supervision and conditions,” Barakat said.

Hundreds of Palestinians have been detained for social media activity in recent months. Israeli news daily Haaretz reported in April that Israeli forces detained at least 400 Palestinians in less than a year over social media activity, and that 400 others were detained for the same reason by the Palestinian Authority through security coordination.
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