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Israel sentences Palestinian journalist to 11 months for 'incitement'

Feb. 29, 2016 9:26 P.M. (Updated: March 1, 2016 12:03 P.M.)
(AFP/Jack Guez, File)
NABLUS (Ma'an) -- An Israeli military court on Monday sentenced a Palestinian journalist to 11 months in prison for alleged "incitement" against Israel's military occupation, the Palestinian Prisoner Center for Studies said.

The center said in a statement that Ahmad Hamed al-Betawi, a 35-year-old journalist from Nablus, received the prison sentence along with a 2,000 shekel ($510) fine from a military court in Ofer detention center.

According to the statement, Betawi was first placed under house arrest for a period of three months in February 2014, during which he was allowed out of his home for only one hour every day.

He was later released on bail, but arrested again in June 2015 for violating his bail conditions. During the arrest raid, the statement said Israeli forces ransacked his home in eastern Nablus and confiscated his phones and computers.

Since then, he has been held in the Ofer detention center west of Ramallah. The statement said his trial was repeatedly postponed before he was finally sentenced to 11 months behind bars.

According to the prisoners' center, Israel's military prosecution accuses Betawi of incitement against Israel's military occupation through his work as an editor with Quds Net News Agency.

The statement said he was also charged with advocating Palestinian nationalistic causes, such as Palestinian prisoners' rights.

The sentencing comes amid a severe crackdown by the Israeli authorities on Palestinian and foreign journalists.

Since a wave of unrest swept the occupied Palestinian territories in October last year, dozens of Palestinians have been detained for alleged incitement against Israel.

According to prisoners' rights groups such as Addameer, this includes a large number of Palestinians who have not been officially charged -- held instead under administrative detention.

Another Palestinian journalist, Muhammad al-Qiq, recently ended a 94-day hunger strike he undertook to protest the controversial practice.
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