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Israel releases Palestinian lawmaker after 7 months in prison

Oct. 13, 2017 2:37 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 14, 2017 1:40 P.M.)
HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities released on Friday Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member Muhammad Ismail al-Tal, 51, after nearly seven months in Israeli prison.

The Palestinian Prisoners Center for Studies said in a statement that Israeli released al-Tal, who was detained from the Hebron-area town of al-Dhahiriya in the southern occupied West Bank on, March 21.

Al-Tal was initially sentenced to four months of administrative detention -- Israel’s widely condemned policy of internment without charge or trial.

However, after four months, Israel refused to release the lawmaker and continued to hold him on grounds of new intelligence information. Israel then indicted him on several charges, according to the center.

Israel’s Ofer military court then sentenced al-Tal to seven months in prison with a fine of 4,000 shekels ($1,143).

Israel uses administrative detention almost exclusively against Palestinians. The policy allows for a detainee to be sentenced for up to six-month renewable intervals based on undisclosed evidence.

Although Israeli authorities claim the withholding of evidence during administrative detention is essential for state security concerns, rights groups have instead claimed 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 have claimed that Israel's administrative detention policy has been used as an attempt to disrupt Palestinian political and social processes, notably targeting Palestinian politicians, activists, and journalists.

According to prisoners rights group Addameer, there were 6,279 Palestinians in Israeli prisons as of August, including 13 PLC members, and 465 held in administrative detention.

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