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Israeli forces detain 2 B'Tselem field researchers in Hebron

June 18, 2017 8:39 P.M. (Updated: June 18, 2017 11:19 P.M.)
HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces detained two field workers for Israeli human rights group B’Tselem in the city of Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank on Sunday, the group reported, adding that one of them had since been released while the other remained in Israeli custody.

According to a Hebrew-language statement by the organization, Manal al-Jaabari and Moussa Abu Hashhash, two field researchers for B’Tselem, were detained at a military checkpoint near the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron’s Old City while filming “severe restrictions on Palestinian movement” in the area, the NGO said.

Al-Jaabari was initially detained by Israeli border police and taken to an Israeli police station in the nearby illegal settlement of Kiryat Arba, B’Tselem said, adding that she was interrogated over suspicions of “disturbing a police officer carrying out their duties.”

B’Tselem added that Abu Hashhash arrived to the Ibrahimi Mosque checkpoint later in the afternoon to document Israeli restrictions on Palestinians in the area, and was detained on the scene for 40 minutes without being interrogated before Israeli forces released him.

The human rights NGO added that both al-Jaabari and Abu Hashhash were prevented from contacting B’Tselem during their detention.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that they would look into the reports.

"Over the years, B'Tselem fieldworkers and volunteers have repeatedly reported that security forces prevented them from documenting human rights violations, detained them for long hours, and confiscated cameras,” B’Tselem said in its statement.

“This comes in spite of the fact that these actions flagrantly contradict the law and clarifications B'Tselem has received in the past from the army and border police, according to which nothing should prevent B'Tselem employees and volunteers from filming events in the (occupied Palestinian) territories, so long as it does not interfere with security forces.”

Palestinians working with B’Tselem have regularly been threatened by both Israeli forces and settlers for their work.

Israel divided Hebron following the 1994 Ibrahimi Mosque massacre, when American-born Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein opened fire on Muslim worshipers, killing 29 and injuring more than 120.

The majority of the city was placed under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, while the Old City and surrounding areas were placed under Israeli military control in a sector known as H2. The holy site was also split between the Ibrahimi Mosque and a synagogue known to Jews as the Cave of Patriarchs.
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