Palestinian human rights lawyer said arrested by Israel after anti-PA protest


Palestinian human rights activist Farid al-Atrash was arrested by Israel on Sunday as he returned home after a protest calling for an end to the regime of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, his employer said.

Al-Atrash, an attorney for the Independent Commission for Human Rights, a leading Palestinian rights group, was returning to Bethlehem after a protest in Ramallah when Israeli soldiers arrested him at the checkpoint. al-Container near Abu Dis, ICHR said in a statement.

According to the group, al-Atrash was then transferred to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem under unclear circumstances.

“[Farid’s] his health deteriorated considerably during the process of his arrest, which necessitated his transfer to Hadassah Hospital for treatment, ”ICHR said.

The Shin Bet security service and Hadassah Hospital declined to comment on al-Atrash’s alleged arrest.

The ICHR has played a key role in documenting the Palestinian Authority’s alleged police brutality during a recent wave of popular protests calling for the fall of the Palestinian Authority.

The protests were sparked by the death of Nizar Banat, a prominent critic of the Ramallah leadership, while he was detained by the Palestinian Authority at the end of June. According to his family, the officers beat Banat with iron bars before dragging him; they were informed of his death two hours later.

Banat’s death sparked rare and scattered protests calling for Abbas’ resignation. Several rallies took place, mainly in Hebron and Ramallah, during which demonstrators called for “the fall of the regime” and told Abbas to “get out of our way”.

Other protesters demanded an end to Israel and the Palestinian Authority’s practice of security coordination. Under the current system, Israel and the Palestinian Authority work together to maintain stability in the West Bank, often by arresting those accused of plotting terrorist attacks against Israelis.

“Why this security coordination? We are caught between the Palestinian Authority and the [Israeli] the army, ”chanted protesters in Ramallah on Saturday afternoon.

Palestinian human rights lawyer Muhannad Karajah was also arrested Sunday morning as the PA’s ongoing crackdown on dissidents appeared to be expanding, legal aid group Lawyers for Justice said.

Karajah heads Lawyers for Justice, which often defends activists jailed by the Palestinian Authority. One of his most important clients was Banat himself, whom Karajah defended last December when security forces briefly ignored a court order to release him.

Palestinians raise signs in Arabic stating “Between the (Palestinian) Authority and the (Israeli) Army” in the West Bank city of Ramallah on July 3, 2021, as they protest against the Palestinian Authority for the death of activist Nizar Banat while in the custody of Palestinian Authority security forces. (Abbas Momani / AFP)

According to Lawyers for Justice, Karajah was arrested by Palestinian Authority security forces at a Ramallah courthouse on Sunday morning. He had arrived to challenge the detention of another member of the rights group, Ghassan Sa’adi, who was arrested after a demonstration calling for the fall of the PA on Saturday afternoon.

A spokesperson for the Palestinian Authority security forces did not respond to repeated phone calls.

The Palestinian Authority has been engaged in an ongoing crackdown since May, detaining dozens of opponents across the West Bank.

The wave of detentions followed a sharp decline in the popularity of the Palestinian Authority leadership. In April, Abbas canceled the first Palestinian national vote scheduled for 16 years. Hamas, the main rival of Abbas’s Fatah faction, saw its support increase after its brief war with Israel in May.

PA forces violently dispersed Palestinian protesters in Ramallah on several occasions as they attempted to march towards Abbas’ presidential offices. The crackdown drew criticism from the international community, which called on the Palestinian Authority leadership to allow freedom to protest.

“Last weekend we saw Palestinian security forces use force against initially completely peaceful protesters, including hitting them with batons and firing tear gas and stun grenades,” the High said on Thursday. United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.

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