Saturday, November 25, 2017

No end in sight for Palestinian activist held without trial by Israel


By PM collaborators - November 15, 2016
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Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Occupation] [prisoners] [Mustafa Bargouthi] [arrests] [BDS] [IDF] [Israeli violence]

The detention without trial of Salah Khawaja is set to continue after a military judge extended his detention by a further eight days.
The decision to extend al-Khawaja’s detention, made on November 9, comes after he was arrested during a dramatic night-time raid by Israeli soldiers on October 26.
Khawaja is an important figure in the Palestinian National Initiative(PNI), a Palestinian political party aimed at providing an alternative to Hamas and Fatah.
During the November 9 hearing, which took place in an Israeli military court, Khawaja looked thin and sleep-deprived. He was also blindfolded throughout the hearing.
Khawaja’s lawyer, Jihad Abu Raya described his client as looking like he had “just come out of the grave” – the result of near-constant interrogation at the hands of Israeli intelligence agents. For his part, Khawaja has been unable to meet his lawyer since his arrest.
Meanwhile, the reasons for Khawaja’s imprisonment are still unknown. At the time of his arrest, an Israeli military spokesperson said that the activist was detained for unspecified “illegal activities.” No further details were given.
Even now, Khawaja has not been charged with any crime, because he is being held under administrative detention rules, which permit Israel to imprison Palestinians for long periods without charge or trial.
Mustafa Barghouti, is a colleague of Khawaja’s at the PNI –as the founder of the party. For him, Khawaja’s continued imprisonment represents another attempt by Israel to “destroy Palestinian civil society.”
Certainly, Khawaja’s activism has made him a target for Israeli harassment in the past. He has spent several years in prison, especially for fighting illegal Israeli confiscations of Palestinian land. And in general, Israel has been accused of arresting Palestinian activists to undermine its civil society.
Khawaja is also secretary of the Palestinian BDS movement. Given recent Israeli attempts to limit the effectiveness of BDS, for example proposing a law that would ban BDS activists from visiting the country, his supporters argue that Khawaja’s arrest is politically motivated.
Noor Daghlas is a BDS activist based in Ramallah. For him, Khawaja’s detention is typical of Israeli efforts to “suppress BDS activity in Palestine, especially as the movement is gaining traction abroad.”
Daghlas also suggests that Khawaja’s arrest is part of broader Israeli attempts to undermine Palestinian efforts to promote BDS. “It is harvest season now, and so Israel will sell produce for maybe 50% less so that Palestinian farmers cannot compete and their crops wither. Khawaja’s arrest should also be seen in the wider context of disrupting resistance to BDS.”

Meanwhile, Khawaja has been given a further hearing this week, but is unclear if it will result in him being charged with a crime. Given that some Palestinians have been held under administrative detention rules for up to eight years, it is possible that Khawaja’s ordeal is only just beginning. 

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