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Hebron activists detained during Land Day event released from Israeli detention

April 4, 2017 8:30 P.M. (Updated: April 6, 2017 11:39 P.M.)
HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities released four Palestinian activists from the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron on Monday night after they were detained during an activity organized to commemorate Land Day last week.

Activists Anan Daana, Badie Dweik, Ishaq al-Khatib, and Yunis Arrar, all of whom are part of the Defending Hebron Committee, were detained during a nonviolent activity in the Wadi al-Hassin area near the illegal Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba in eastern Hebron.

The demonstration was held as part of widespread demonstrations for Land Day organized across the West Bank, Gaza, and Israel to commemorate the killing of six Palestinians by Israeli forces in 1976 amid mass nonviolent protests following Israel’s confiscation of 2,000 hectares of land belonging to Palestinian citizens of Israel.

The Land Day activity comprised of planting trees in the area in protest of routine Israeli confiscation of Palestinian land for the establishment of illegal Israeli settlements. Activists then protested at the main road closed by Israel, before Israeli forces and settlers obstructed the way, preventing activists from reaching the area and later declaring the area a closed military zone.

Israeli authorities then proceeded to detain the activists for protesting in the closed military zone.

According to sources, a military trial was held for the activists on Sunday, during which time the Israeli prosecution accused the activists of assaulting Israeli forces and obstructing them from conducting their jobs. The prosecutor also demanded that the court extend their detentions for five additional days to allow for interrogations.

However, the Israeli judge extended the activists’ detentions for only one day until another military court hearing was held on Monday when the judge agreed to release the four on a bail of 3,500 shekels ($958) each until another scheduled trial is expected to take place.

Muhammad al-Jibrini, an activist from the Defending Hebron Commitee, told Ma’an that international support and solidarity campaigns were carried out in response to the activists’ detentions, including launching a Twitter campaign with the hashtag #AlKhalil4.

A protest was also held in London in support of the activists, as several human rights organizations had issued statements condemning the detentions. Sources added that Zeid Raad Al Hussein, the UN’s High Commissioner of Human Rights, also attended the trial in a show of support for the activists.

In December, the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner released a statement condemning the “daily violations” of human rights and international law faced by human rights defenders in the occupied Palestinian territory, highlighting the case of local Hebron activist Issa Amro, the head of the activist group Youth Against Settlements.

“We call on the Israeli authorities to ensure fair trial guarantees for human rights defenders and respect their unfettered exercise of fundamental freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association,” the UN experts said at the time.

“The right of all those who are seeking hope and participation in concrete, nonviolent action must be protected, particularly as we are seeing the deepening entrenchment of the Israeli occupation and the accompanying human rights violations."
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