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Israeli forces detain Palestinian MP near Ramallah

Oct. 20, 2015 11:38 A.M. (Updated: Oct. 20, 2015 6:07 P.M.)
Palestinians greet and congratulate Hassan Youssef, a West Bank leader of the Hamas movement, following his release on January 19, 2014 after spending 28 months in Israeli prison. (AFP/File)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces on Tuesday detained a Hamas-affiliated lawmaker from his home in Beitunia west of Ramallah during a predawn raid.

Palestinian security forces said that dozens of Israeli soldiers descended on the home of 60-year-old Hassan Youssef in a "swift" detention raid, and had taken him to the nearby Ofer detention center.

The Israeli army said in a statement that Youssef had been "actively instigating and inciting terrorism and publicly encouraging and praising the execution of attacks against Israelis."

An Israeli army spokesperson, Peter Lerner, said in the statement that: "Hamas' leaders cannot expect to propagate violence and terror from the comfort of their living-rooms and pulpits of their mosques."

Youssef, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Palestine's parliament, has been imprisoned by Israel on several occasions previously.

Most recently, he was released from Israeli custody in June after spending a year in administrative detention without trial or charge.

He was one of hundreds of Palestinians detained by Israel in June 2014 during a campaign known as "Operation Brother's Keeper," allegedly carried out in search of three missing teenage settlers last summer, until June 30 when their bodies were found.

Most of those arrested during the campaign were members of Hamas, including leaders and members of the PLC.

Although a number of these lawmakers were released a year later, four members of the PLC remained in Israeli prisons as of September, according to prisoners' rights group Addameer.

These include Khalida Jarrar, a Palestinian leader affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

She was detained from her home in Ramallah in April, and initially sentenced to six months administrative detention, although international pressure later forced the Israeli authorities to bring 12 charges against her, focused on her political activism.

Her case has brought outcry across both Palestine and Israel, with Palestinian and Israeli rights groups calling for her release.

Addameer described her arrest as "vengeful, arbitrary and political, with an aim to punish her for her political opinions and activism for Palestinian human rights," while Human Rights Watch has said "her case is rife with due process violations."
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