GENEVA- The Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties condemns the wave of arrests targeting human rights defenders by the Israeli army and the Palestinian security services in the West Bank.
while returning from a protest against the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Ramallah,
According to the council, the Israeli army arrested the human rights defender, lawyer Farid Al-Atrash, Director of ICHR’s office in the southern West Bank, at the Container checkpoint overlooking the Wadi Al-Nar road that connects Bethlehem and Ramallah after midnight on Sunday, July 4, 2021, while returning from a protest against the killing of political opponent Nizar Banat at the hand of the Palestinian Authority last month.
During his arrest, his health deteriorated and he was transferred to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem for treatment, before being transferred to an unknown destination. The Israeli forces have previously arrested lawyer Farid al-Atrash several times because of his peaceful activism and his role in defending human rights.
On Sunday morning, the Palestinian security services arrested human rights defender Muhannad Karajah, 38, director of Lawyers for Justice, near the Ramallah court, where a protest was held to denounce the political arrest. Activists Jihad Abdo and Ezz El-Din Zaoul were also arrested because they participated in the vigil.
According to Lawyers for Justice, Karajah was on his way to follow up the file of the arrest of activist Ghassan Al-Saadi, and the summons of journalist Alaa Al-Rimawi from the Public Prosecution Office in Ramallah, who are being prosecuted for the peaceful demonstrations condemning the killing of political opponent Nizar Banat.
The Lawyers for Justice group stated that its team, which is active in defending political detainees and freedom of opinion in the West Bank, has received several threats of arrest for more than a year from the Palestinian security services, before being really carried out.
Subsequently, the security services released the human rights defender Karajah, after obliging him to sign a pledge to appear tomorrow morning before the Public Prosecution in Ramallah for interrogation, and kept the activists Jihad Abdo and Ezzedine Zaoul in detention.
The Palestinian security services also arrested journalist Alaa al-Rimawi, after he was summoned today for interrogation by the Ramallah Public Prosecution Office, which decided to arrest him and transfer him to the Public Prosecution Office in Hebron, he announced the start of a hunger strike.
Al-Rimawi was subjected to threats and incitement during the past days, for denouncing the killing of the opposition leader, Nizar Banat.
While the Geneva Council strongly condemns the arrest of human rights defenders Al-Atrash and Karajah, and the journalist Al-Rimawi, it underlines the seriousness of the common violations against human rights defenders in the occupied Palestinian territories, – have witnessed a remarkable escalation in recent weeks.
The Council considers that these arrests aim to silence the voice of human rights defenders and influence their interventions to protect the human rights situation, which is deteriorating due to violations committed whether by the Israeli army forces or the Palestinian security services, especially after the killing of the opponent Nizar Banat.
Many demonstrations were suppressed, journalists were attacked, activists were arbitrarily arrested without any legal basis.
The Council urges United Nations, in particular, the United Nations Special Rapporteurs; Especially the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, to intervene to immediately release lawyer Farid al-Atrash, and to compel the Palestinian government to stop its crackdown on human rights defenders and journalists