Palestinian legislator Hatem Kufaisheh released from administrative detention, calls for action to free prisoners

hatem-kufaishehPalestinian Legislative Council member Hatem Kufaisheh, 54, was released on Sunday, 3 July after over five months in administrative detention without charge or trial; he was arrested on 24 January 2016.

Kufaisheh was released at the Mitar checkpoint, greeted by family and supporters. He has been arrested on several occasions in the past and spent 13 years in Israeli prisons, includng over 10 years total in administrative detention without charge or trial.

A member of the Change and Reform bloc associated with Hamas, Kufaisheh was, in 1992, one of 415 members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad forcibly expelled to southern Lebanon by the Israeli occupation forces in the Marj al-Zuhour deportation.

Five members of the Palestinian Legislative Council remain imprisoned – fellow Change and Reform Bloc members Hassan Yousef, 60, held under a six-month administrative detention order; Mohammed Abu Teir, 65, held under administrative detention; and Abdel Jaber Fuquha, ordered to three months administrative detention on 17 May – as well as prominent Fateh leader Marwan Barghouthi, serving five life sentences, and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Secretary Ahmad Sa’adat, serving a 30 year sentence.

As he was welcomed by family and supporters, Kufaisheh spoke about the need to focus on the prisoners’ struggle at all levels, popular and official. He said that the prisoners are under attack and facing very difficult circumstances, especially ill prisoners. Kufaisheh noted that he did not receive proper treatment for his high blood pressure and diabetes in prison, as is the case with all sick prisoners in Israeli jails.

fuad-shobakiHe particularly highlighted the case of Fuad Shobaki, 78, a long-time Fateh leader who is facing seriously ill health. He has been imprisoned since 2006, when he was captured along with PFLP leader Sa’adat when Israeli forces attacked the Palestinian Authority Jericho prison on 14 March.

He is serving a 17-year prison sentence; was recently hospitalized on several occasions. He is held in the Negev Desert Prison; on Saturday, 2 July, Prisoners Affairs Commission director Issa Qaraqe urged his immediate release on health grounds.