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Israel releases Hamas lawmaker from Hebron

Nov. 1, 2009 2:35 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 2, 2009 3:28 P.M.)
Hebron – Ma’an – Israel released Hatem Qafisha, a Hamas-affiliated member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) on Sunday, according to sources close to the official.

Forty-six-year-old Qafaish was seized by Israeli soldiers from his home in the city of Hebron at one in the morning on 6 November 2007, and has been held in administrative detention since then. He spent the past year in Israel’s Ketziot prison camp in the Negev desert.

On Monday, Israel is expected to release five other lawmakers affiliated to Hamas: Muhammad Badr, Khalil Raba’i, and Samir Al-Qadi from Hebron; Mahmoud Al-Khatib from Bethlehem, and Wael Al-Husseini from Jerusalem.

According to the Ad-Dameer Prisoners’ Support and Human Rights organization, Qafisha had been detained by Israel five times previous to his latest detention. He was elected to the PLC in January 2006 after campaigning from his prison cell.

Qafisha was also among the more than 400 activists Israel deported to Marj Al-Zuhur in southern Lebanon in December 1992. After returning to the West Bank in 1993, he chronicled his experience in exile in a series of articles in the Al-Quds newspaper. He intended to eventually to publish a memoir, but the manuscript was confiscated by Israeli prison guards.

Qafisha recently completed a PhD through correspondence courses while in prison, sources close to him say.

As a PLC member Qafisha worked to promote sports in the West Bank and had plans to renovate the Hussein football stadium in Hebron. These plans remain on hold since he was imprisoned.
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