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14 Palestinians detained in raids, including former prisoner, writer Ahmad Qatamish

May 14, 2017 10:17 A.M. (Updated: May 15, 2017 10:43 A.M.)
Al-BIREH (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces detained at least 14 Palestinians during predawn raids across the occupied West Bank on Sunday, including renowned Palestinian writer and political scientist Ahmad Qatamish, who has spent several years in Israeli prisons, most recently a two-and-a-half-year stint under administrative detention -- Israel's widely condemned policy of internment without trial or charge.

Local sources said that Qatamish, 66, was detained from his home in the city of al-Bireh near Ramallah in the central occupied West Bank, after Israeli soldiers thoroughly searched the house, damaging some of his possessions. He was then take to an unknown location.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an that two Palestinians were detained in al-Bireh overnight.

Qatamish was released from Israeli prison four years ago after spending two and a half consecutive years in administrative detention.

His arrest in April 2011 and subsequent administrative detention sentence sentence sparked outrage, after Palestinian prisoners' rights group Addameer reported that Israeli authorities had hastily slapped together the administrative detention order by forging his name on someone else’s order.

The order also stated that the writer was suspected of being a Hamas member, a claim Addameer called "absurd" as the previous week Israeli police accused Qatamish of membership of leftist faction the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the group with which he has historically been associated.

Administrative detention orders, based on undisclosed evidence, are indefinitely renewable for up to six-month periods. Qatamish's order was renewed at least six times over the last period of his detention.

He had previously spent several spells in Israeli jails and also spent 17 years in hiding from 1976 to 1992 to avoid rearrest.

In 1992 Qatamish was held by Israel without charge for six years, writing about his experiences of torture and ill treatment in his prison memoir "I Shall not Wear Your Tarboush (fez)."

Following an international campaign for his release, he was freed in 1998, and has since been banned from traveling outside Palestinian territory.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces also raided the town of al-Tira, west of Ramallah, and detained one Palestinian, according to an Israeli army spokesperson.

She added that two Palestinians were also detained in the village of Nahhalin in the southern Bethlehem district, one Palestinian was detained in al-Farah refugee camp in the northeastern Tubas district, two Palestinians were detained in the city of Qalqiliya in the northwest of the West Bank, and that six Palestinians were detained in Jenin in the northernmost district of the West Bank -- one of whom was an alleged "Hamas operative," according to the army.

A raid into Jenin refugee camp sparked clashes between Israeli soldiers and local youth. Israeli forces shot one resident in the leg with a live bullet. Locals identified one of those detained as Yassin al-Amuri.

Israeli raids in Palestinian towns, villages, and refugee camps are a daily occurrence in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

The United Nations recorded an average of 95 weekly raids in the occupied West Bank in 2016, and 70 weekly raids on average thus far in 2017.

According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, 6,300 Palestinians were held in Israeli prisons as of March, including 300 minors, 61 women, and 500 under administrative detention.

Although Israeli authorities claim the withholding of evidence during administrative detention is essential for state security concerns, rights groups have instead claimed the policy allows Israeli authorities to hold Palestinians for an indefinite period of time without showing any evidence that could justify their detentions.

Rights groups have also claimed that Israel's administrative detention policy has been used as an attempt to disrupt Palestinian political and social processes, notably targeting Palestinian politicians, activists, and journalists.

More than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners have undertaken an open-ended hunger strike in Israeli prisons calling for an end to the practice.
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