BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces detained at least three Palestinians during predawn raids on Friday carried out across the occupied West Bank, including one of six Palestinians who had led a hunger strike in a Palestinian Authority prison last month, whose violent beating by Israeli forces during his detention was caught on video. Israeli media reported that Israeli forces found a locally made M-16 in the town of Qabatiya in the northern West Bank district of Jenin, and detained a youth. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed a detention in Qabatiya to Ma'an. The spokesperson told Ma’an that two other Palestinians were detained from the cities of al-Bireh and Hebron. According to Israeli media, the two were transferred to Israeli intelligence for interrogations. The spokesperson added that all three were detained for “illegal activities.” Meanwhile, a video was released by Israeli media, showing Israeli forces beating the Palestinian detained in Hebron, while a woman screams in the background. Israeli media identified the Palestinian as Haitham Siyaj, 29, one of six Palestinians who had declared an open hunger strike in PA prison last month.
An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an he would look into reports on the circumstances surrounding the video.
According to Israeli media outlet Ynet, Siyaj was suspected of planning a “terrorist attack” with an explosive device. However, according to local Palestinians, Siyaj has been targeted by both the PA and Israel for his activism against the Israeli occupation and the PA’s security coordination with Israeli forces.
Siyaj was initially detained by Palestinian security forces on April 10, along with Basil al-Araj, 33, and Muhammad Harb, 23, while walking near Ramallah, after the three had been reported missing by their families for ten days.Siyaj and five other Palestinians held by the PA without charge or trial for five months launched a hunger strike for almost ten days in protest of their detentions. Palestinian activists had feared upon the release of the six activists that Israeli forces would detain them within a few weeks of being released from PA prison, an act which local activists believe would reflect the widely criticized security coordination between the PA and Israel. At least one other of the six activists, Seif al-Idrissi, 26, had already been detained by Israeli forces earlier in the month. Palestinian prisoner solidarity network Samidoun said during Siyaj’s detention in PA prison that the six young men were all "well known in their communities and families for their commitment to Palestinian freedom. Their arrest, torture, and continued imprisonment clearly comes under the auspices of Palestinian Authority security coordination with Israel.”The PA has long been criticized for its security coordination with Israel, criticism that took on a new significance after the police beating in August that killed Ahmad Halaweh, as Israel too has been the target of widespread international condemnation for unlawful killings of Palestinians since a wave of unrest swept across the Palestinian territory last October.Meanwhile, Israeli forces conduct night raids across the occupied Palestinian territory on a near-daily basis. According to UN documentation, the Israeli army carried out 178 detention raids from Oct. 4 to 17.Prisoners rights group Addameer reported that 7,000 Palestinians were held in Israeli prisons as of August, 700 of whom were held without charge or trial.