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Prominent Palestinian astrophysicist Imad Barghouthi, a professor of theoretical space-plasma physics at Al-Quds University, was ordered by the Israeli occupation military to three months in administrative detention – imprisonment without charge or trial – on Monday, 2 May.

Barghouthi, who marked his 54th birthday in Israeli prison, joins nearly 750 fellow Palestinians held without charge or trial under administrative detention. Detention orders are indefinitely renewable on the basis of “secret evidence” to which both Palestinian detainees and their lawyers are denied access. The scientist, from Beit Rima near Ramallah, was arrested by Israeli occupation forces at a military checkpoint in Nabi Saleh on 24 April.

Barghouthi, a former employee of NASA in the United States, is a prominent figure in the Palestinian scientific community and his work is internationally known. He received his BS in physics from the University of Jordan in 1985, followed by his masters’ degree in nuclear physics in 1988. In 1994, he completed his Ph.D. at Utah State University in the United States.

He was arrested before, on 6 December 2014, as he traveled to a scientific conference in the United Arab Emirates, and ordered to administrative detention without charge or trial; he was released early, on 22 January 2015, following an international outcry from the scientific community, including statements fromAURDIP (Association des Universitaires pour le Respect du Droit International en Palestine), BRICUP (British Committee for the Universities of Palestine), Committee of Concerned Scientists, MESA (Middle East Studies Association) Committee on Academic Freedom,  and Euroscience.

Upon Barghouthi’s release, he wrote a letter to international organizations that had supported him: “I call on the international community that spoke up on my behalf to speak up also on behalf of all Palestinian political prisoners. There are approximately 500 Palestinians held in administrative detention, imprisoned without charge or trial. The systematic use of arbitrary imprisonment by Israeli forces to punish Palestinians violates international humanitarian law under the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

Al-Quds University, where Barghouthi teaches, has also been subject to ongoing Israeli repression, including invasion of the campus, destruction of student organizations’ offices and materials, and arrests of students.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network calls for the immediate release of Palestinian scientist Imad al-Barghouthi, which comes as part of a systematic attack on Palestinian academics, journalists, writers and other cultural workers by the Israeli occupation. We reiterate that the case of Imad al-Barghouthi underlines the necessity of the international academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions – a call adopted by an increasing number of academic associations and academic labor unions. Such institutions are deeply complicit in the structures of occupation that deny Palestinian human rights at all levels, including denying Palestinians’ rights to education and academic freedom, and upholding the structures of colonialism and occupation that target Barghouthi, his students and fellow faculty at Palestinian universities like Al-Quds, and the Palestinian people as a whole.

Photo: Al-Quds Human Rights Clinic