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2 Palestinians detained after criticizing Fatah official released on bail

June 24, 2017 9:17 P.M. (Updated: June 29, 2017 6:00 P.M.)
Nasser Jaradat
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Two Palestinians held by the Palestinian Authority (PA), believed to have been detained over publicly criticizing a Fatah official, were released from jail on June 22 after 15 days in custody, according to local reports.

University student and active youth organizer Nasser Jaradat had reportedly been detained for writing a Facebook post critical of Fatah Central Committee member Jibril Rujoub, after Rujoub said in an interview with Israeli media that the Western Wall in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City should “remain under Jewish sovereignty.”

Palestinian journalist Zaher al-Shammali also reportedly wrote a critical article about Rujoub, as well as about Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other PA figures, according to Palestinian prisoners’ solidarity network Samidoun.

The two were reportedly released by the PA on a bail of 1,000 Jordanian dinars ($1,406) each, and are set to face trial in September after being accused of “insults” to holy sites and “incitement of sectarianism.”

However, Samidoun argued that “there was no ‘sectarian’ content to their writings on Rujoub’s political concessions to the Israeli occupation. Both al-Shammali and Jaradat are Palestinian progressives.

At the time of the 23-year-old’s arrest, Palestinian security services Adnan Dmeiri told Ma'an at that he had "no idea" about Jaradat's case, but said "I can confirm that we don't arrest anybody for expressing their opinion."

The imprisonment of Jaradat and al-Shammali comes as over 20 websites have been blocked by the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank -- all allegedly affiliated with either the Hamas movement or Muhammad Dahlan, a political rival of Abbas.

The blocking was reportedly done on the basis of a direct order by the PA attorney general.

Press freedoms watchdog the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) has denounced the decision to block the news sites as “a serious violation of freedom of the press and expression."

Meanwhile, 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 with Israel.
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