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Israel’s detention of Palestinian journalist attempt to cover up violations: Rights group

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Imprisoned Palestinian journalist Alaa al-Rimawi (Photo by Al Jazeera television network)

An independent international human rights group has condemned the continued detention of Palestinian journalist Alaa al-Rimawi as an attempt by the Tel Aviv regime to conceal its violations, calling on Israeli authorities to immediately release him and end their targeting of journalists in the occupied territories.

“Alaa al-Rimawi's detention is illegal and arbitrary. Israeli authorities apparently want to retaliate against the journalist for exposing their violations against Palestinians, which has recently escalated in the West Bank,” Chief Operations Officer at Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor Anas Jerjawi said.

“By arresting al-Rimawi, the Israeli authorities aim to intimidate press workers in the occupied Palestinian territories with military force and dissuade journalists from reporting on these violations against the civilian population,” Jarjawi said.

Rimawi works as a reporter for the Qatari Al Jazeera Mubasher television network and runs local press agency Jmedia. He has previously spent ten years in Israeli jails.

Israeli forces detained Rimawi, from the occupied city of Ramallah in the central West Bank, after raiding his home in the early hours of April 21.

He was reportedly interrogated in his house for a while after being separated from his wife and children. Israeli forces then took him for further interrogation to the Etzion detention center south of the West Bank.

Rimawi was transferred to Ofer court on April 25, after a preliminary ruling was issued against him for administrative detention of three months without an indictment. The court set the date for upholding the verdict on May 6.

He has been on hunger strike since his arrest, raining fears that his health condition could deteriorate.

Activists believe his detention is an effort to disrupt the upcoming Palestinian legislative elections as he presented a program called “Palestine Votes” which discussed the ballot process and the obstacles it faces.

Palestinian legislative elections are scheduled for May 22 and Hamas resistance movement is expected to win a landslide victory, as it did in 2006.

Israeli authorities have made many efforts to either cancel or postpone the polls.

Israeli forces have escalated an arrest campaign targeting key Hamas figures in the West Bank in recent months, detaining Mustafa al-Shanar, Adnan Asfour, Khalid al-Hajj, Omar al-Hanbali, Jamal al-Tawil and Khatam al-Qafisheh among others.

More than 7,000 Palestinian prisoners are currently held in some 17 Israeli jails, with dozens of them serving multiple life sentences.

Over 350 detainees, including women and minors, are under Israel’s administrative detention.

The administrative detention, which is a form of imprisonment without trial or charge, allows authorities to incarcerate Palestinians for up to six months. The duration could be extended for an infinite number of times.

Some prisoners have been held in administrative detention for up to 11 years.

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