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Israel releases Palestinian lawmaker who has spent nearly 32 years behind bars

Feb. 1, 2018 12:50 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 4, 2018 5:43 P.M.)
Muhammad Abu Tir
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces released Palestinian lawmaker Muhammad Abu Tir after he was held in Israeli prison for six months under administrative detention -- Israel’s widely-condemned policy of internment without charge or trial.

Abu Tir was detained on August 4, 2017 after Israeli forces raided his house in the town of al-Bireh in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah. He had been released from Israeli prison two months prior to his latest detention in August.

Abu Tair has spent an estimated total of 32 years behind Israeli bars.

The Hamas-affiliated lawmaker moved to al-Bireh after being exiled from his home in occupied East Jerusalem in 2010, along with fellow imprisoned parliamentarian Ahmad Attun, Palestinian Legislative Committee (PLC) member Muhammad Tutah, and former PA Jerusalem minister Khalid Abu Arafeh.

The four were forced out of Jerusalem after the Israeli Interior Ministry had been threatening to deport Hamas-affiliated lawmakers from the city -- under the pretext of disloyalty to the Israeli state -- since Hamas won Palestinian legislative elections in 2006.

According to prisoners rights group Addameer, as of December 2017, there were a total of 6,171 Palestinians being held in Israeli prison, 10 of whom were PLC members and 434 of whom were being held under administrative detention.

Israel uses administrative detention almost exclusively against Palestinians. The widely condemned Israeli 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 6,171 Palestinians in Israeli prisons as of December, with 434 being held in administrative detention.

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