In a movement condemned by Palestinian rights group, West Bank officials detained around 70, many from the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), across the West Bank on Tuesday.
According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), 71 Palestinians in the West Bank were taken into custody by the Preventive Security Service and the General Intelligence Service.
They were either taken into custody from their workplaces or homes or called to the headquarters of the security bodies and detained. The arrested were taken from various places across the West Bank with most of the arrested from Salfit, Tulkarm, Qalqiliya and Nablus, the PCHR reported.
Many of the arrested are members of Hamas and some are journalists, activists and students. In addition, the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association (APSHRA) reported that among those arrested, at least 35 were released prisoners.
The APSHRA stated it is very concerned with the arrests, which it said on Wednesday morning were still continuing.
The APSHRA said among the former prisoners who were arrested on Tuesday are Palestinians who’ve spent years behind bars and a journalist who was released just weeks ago.
The PCHR condemned the arrests and called for the immediate release of all political detainees, stressing that personal liberties are natural guaranteed rights that should not be violated according to Palestinian law.
Similarly, the APSHRA called for the immediate release of all detainees saying their detention is a violation of Palestinian law and human rights conventions. The human rights group also called on the Palestinian government to end “political arrests, political oppression and the policy of gagging mouths.”
Among those arrested on Tuesday was Fuad Al-Khufash, a human rights defender and the Director of the Ahrar Centre for Prisoners’ Studies and Human Rights (ACPSHR), according to the APSHRA.
The ACPSHR condemned the arrest of its director in a statement released Tuesday saying he was arrested on the same day that “prisoners in the occupation’s prisons are entering a strike. Is it reasonable to arrest the activists who care about the prisoners on such a day, rather than standing on their side?”
The ACPSHR considers the arrest of Al-Khuffash a crime in the name of “prisoners in the occupation’s prisons.” Al-Khuffash has had to endure administrative detention three times over the past nine years.
The latest was in the Israeli Megiddo prison where he was taken to from his home in the middle of the night by Israel Defense Forces in April last year. He has also been arrested several times by Palestinian Authority security forces.
Administrative detention is defined by APSHRA as “a procedure that allows the Israeli military to hold prisoners indefinitely on secret information without charging them or allowing them to stand trial.”
Palestinian prisoners attempting to pressure authorities to end their administrative detention have engaged in hunger strikes. Three such hunger strikers are currently in a critical conditions, the APSHRA reported, with Samer Al-Barq’s strike exceeding 120 days, Hassan Safadi’s srtrike exceeding 90 days, and Ayman Sharawna striking for over 80 days.