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Israeli forces detain Palestinian band over song praising Halamish attacker

Aug. 30, 2017 12:46 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 31, 2017 10:30 A.M.)
Singer Muhammad Barghouthi
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces detained a popular Palestinian wedding singer and a number of his band members during predawn raids Wednesday in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, reportedly over a video released by the group applauding Omar al-Abed, who has been indicted for carrying out a deadly stabbing attack in July that left three Israeli settlers dead.

Local sources in Beit Rima said Israeli forces raided the village overnight and detained the singer, Muhammad Barghouthi, and his band's organist Naji Rimawi. Israeli forces also raided the nearby village of Kafr Ein and detained the band's audio engineer Nazzal Barghouthi.

An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed only one detention in Beit Rima, and one in Kafr Ein. She added that one detention was also carried out in al-Abed's hometown of Kobar, but it remained unclear if the detention was related to the video.

The raids came a few days after the band produced a Bedouin-style song, or dihiya, glorifying al-Abed for infiltrating the illegal Israeli settlement of Halamish, which is located near Kobar, and carrying out the stabbing attack.

The deadly incident took place on the same day that three Palestinians were killed amid civil disobedience demonstrations in occupied East Jerusalem, in which hundreds more unarmed Palestinians were wounded by Israeli forces, over heightened Israeli security restrictions at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Al-Abed announced on Facebook his intentions to carry out the attack as an act of retribution for the Israeli measures and the ensuing violent crackdown on peaceful protesters.

Since the attack, Israeli forces have demolished the al-Abed home and targeted Kobar in multiple military raids, while six of al-Abed's family members, including his mother, face charges of having advanced knowledge of the attack.

"I heard the sound of the machine gun in the Arab village Kobar…it's Omar who crossed the woods and carried out the operation," the lyrics to Muhammad Barghouthi's song said.

"Hey you, who asks about real men, you will find them in Kobar... Omar al-Abed is an earthquake who took revenge on behalf of Al-Aqsa... he came from above the mountains carrying a knife on his side, and when he announced the clash, he made the Zionists lie on the ground… even if they detain my mother and my father, and demolish our home, we will never wear clothes of disgrace," the song goes.

Israeli authorities have claimed that a wave of violence that first erupted in October 2015 was caused largely by “incitement” among Palestinians through social media, with hundreds of Palestinians -- including activists, journalists, novelists, and poets -- detained over such claims.

Scores have been detained simply for posting a photo on Facebook of a Palestinian who carried out an attack, and Omar's al-Abed's mother Ibtisam was first detained over accusations of "aggravated incitement" due to a video speaking about the death of her son, in which she allegedly expressed pride for his actions.

Meanwhile, Palestinians have 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 as reasons for outbreaks of violence.

Many Palestinians have also pointed out that Israeli violence has continued to shape everyday life in the occupied territory, regardless of any recent “upticks” in clashes or attacks.

By contrast, a February report released by the Arab Center for Social Media Advancement 7amleh documented that slanderous, provocative, and threatening posts made by Israelis against Arabs and Palestinians had more than doubled in 2016, reaching 675,000 posts made by 60,000 Hebrew-speaking Facebook users -- with only very few cases being opened against Israelis.
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