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Israeli military court sentences Palestinian lawmaker to 17 months in prison

Dec. 13, 2016 4:41 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 14, 2016 4:15 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- An Israeli military court at the Ofer detention center in the central occupied West Bank sentenced Hamas-affiliated Palestinian lawmaker Muhammad Abu Tair to 17 months in prison on Tuesday.

In addition to the 17-month sentence, the court ordered Abu Tair to pay 8,000 shekels ($2,100) and also sentenced him to 30 months on probation.

Abu Tair, who is from occupied East Jerusalem, was detained on Jan. 27 from his home in the neighborhood of Kafr Aqab, along with at least one other Palestinian from Kafr Aqab. At the time, an Israeli army spokesperson described the two detainees as “Hamas terror operatives.”

At the time of his arrest, Abu Tair joined six other Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) members incarcerated by Israel, including Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Secretary-General Ahmad Saadat.

Six Palestinians lawmakers remain in Israeli custody. PLC member of the leftist PFLP party Khalida Jarrar was notably released in June.

Israel considers the majority of Palestinian political parties to be “terrorist organizations." As a result, most Palestinians who participate in the political arena in the occupied Palestinian territory risk being imprisoned by Israeli authorities.

Abu Tair was elected as a member of the PLC in 2006, representing the Hamas party.

The 65-year-old MP has spent at least 32 total years in Israeli prison serving multiple separate sentences since he was first detained in 1974. On Oct. 8, 2010, he saw his permanent residency status in Jerusalem revoked by Israeli authorities after five months of detention.

Another East Jerusalem Palestinian lawmaker, Ahmad Attoun, described the Israeli court’s decision to sentence Abu Tair as "part of a vicious campaign the Israeli occupation has been waging on the city of Jerusalem and its people, especially the active leaders."

According to Addameer, “Palestinian political leaders are routinely arrested and detained as part of an ongoing Israeli effort to suppress Palestinian political processes -- and, as a result, Palestinian political sovereignty and self-determination.”

The targeting of PLC members by Israel
-- particularly those believed to be affiliated with Hamas -- surged in the lead-up to and aftermath of Palestinian legislative elections in 2006, which Hamas won, becoming the ruling party in the Gaza Strip as a result.

Addameer has also noted that a number of Palestinian lawmakers have also had their Jerusalem residency revoked, as was the case with Abu Tair, and have been forcibly deported to the occupied West Bank.

According to Addameer, “The (Israeli) occupation forces continued to prosecute members of the Palestinian Legislative Council since 2006, and arbitrarily incarcerate them after putting them on trial before military courts that lack guarantees to a fair trial.”
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