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Israel set to release Palestinian astrophysicist on Sunday

May 27, 2016 4:08 P.M. (Updated: May 29, 2016 3:49 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities are set to release Palestinian professor and astrophysicist Imad Barghouti from Israel’s Ofer prison on Sunday, following an Israeli military order, the head of the legal unit at the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said Thursday.

Jawad Boulous said the decision to release the 54-year-old Palestinian professor came after a defense appeal overturned the Israeli court’s most recent sentence for Barghouti to two months in administrative detention following an initial verdict of three months in prison.

The widely-condemned Israeli policy of administrative detention is commonly used by Israeli authorities as a means of internment without charges or trial based on undisclosed evidence, which made Barghouti’s sentence highly unusual.

Barghouti, from the town of Beit Rima in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, was detained for allegedly “inciting against Israeli occupation” over Facebook in April.

Boulos added that the appeal presented to the Israeli court was signed by hundreds of scientists and academics from all over the world demanding Barghouti’s release. A similar petition signed by academics was submitted to Israeli courts during the imprisoned professor’s court hearing earlier in May.

According to Boulos, Barghouti declared that he “has been and will always remain against occupation, but that does not mean that he imposes danger on the safety and security of the public.”

The scientist had previously been detained in late 2014 as he was trying to cross into Jordan on his way to attend a conference in the United Arab Emirates.

His lawyer said at the time that Barghouti’s detention was due to his stance on the devastating Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip earlier that year, which killed some 2,200 Palestinians.

He was held in administrative detention for a month and a half before being released amid uproar in the international scientific community.

Upon his release in early 2015, Barghouti had urged “the international community that spoke up on my behalf to speak up also on behalf of all Palestinian political prisoners.”

In recent months, Israel has detained scores of Palestinians for social media activity, alleging that a wave of unrest that swept the occupied Palestinian territory last October was encouraged largely by "incitement."

Palestinians have instead pointed chiefly to the frustration and despair brought on by Israel's nearly 50-year military occupation of the Palestinian territory and the absence of a political horizon.

According to prisoners’ organization Addameer, there are 7,000 Palestinians held in Israeli custody, including 750 held in administrative detention.
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