Two more of the Palestinian youth, held by the Palestinian Authority without charge for six months until their release following a hunger strike and campaign for their freedom, were seized by occupation forces at around 1:00 a.m. on Friday, 21 October.
Occupation forces stormed the homes of Haitham Siyaj, 19, of al-Khalil and Mohammed al-Salameen of al-Bireh, who joined the already imprisoned Seif al-Idrissi and Mohammed Harb. Harb has been ordered to six months imprisonment in administrative detention without charge or trial on the basis of secret evidence.
The invading forces blocked off the area around Siyaj’s home and violently invaded the house, dragged out Siyaj and beat him. More than 10 occupation soldiers engaged in the attack on Siyaj, beating him and spraying pepper spray in his face. He refused to turn over his identity card and the soldiers stormed his family home again.
The beating of Siyaj by occupation forces was caught on video:
Also seized by occupation forces was Mohammed al-Salameen, 19, in his family home in El-Bireh. His home was also violently invaded and ransacked as he was taken.
Occupation forces also raided the home of Bassil al-Araj, 33, another of the six former prisoners and a prominent youth activist, on three occasions on Friday and the early pre-dawn hours of Saturday, repeatedly invading the family home in al-Walaja village near Bethlehem.
Al-Araj, Siyaj, Salamin, Harb, al-Idrissi and Ali Dar al-Sheikh were arrested in early April by Palestinian Authority security forces; Al-Araj, Harb and Siyaj were arrested on 9 April after they had left their homes for several days. Al-Salameen, al-Idrissi and Dar al-Sheikh were arrested in the following days. Their arrest was trumpeted in the media as a victory for the “security coordination” of the Palestinian Authority with the Israeli occupation, as PA officials boasted of having “prevented” Palestinian resistance actions by arresting the youth. Under the 1993 Oslo agreements, the Palestinian Authority security forces serve the interests of the Israeli occupation under the framework of “security coordination,” to target and arrest Palestinian resistance organizers and activists.
Nevertheless, they were held without charge for over five months in PA prisons before launching a hunger strike that drew widespread Palestinian and international support. The six were finally released, with their matter postponed by the Palestinian judiciary. Four of the six are now in the custody of occupation forces, while al-Araj’s home has now been raided on multiple occasions.