Omar Nazzal on his release, 20 February. Photo: Sally Allawy

Palestinian journalist Omar Nazzal was released from Israeli prison on Monday, 20 February after 10 months in Israeli administrative detention, imprisoned without charge or trial. Nazzal was seized by occupation forces on 23 April as he attempted to cross to Jordan from Palestine’s West Bank, traveling to Sarajevo to attend the conference of the European Federation of Journalists. Nazzal, 55, is a member of the General Secretariat of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate.

He was ordered to four months in administrative detention without charge or trial, extended twice more for two three-month periods. He had previously been held in administrative detention in 1985 and 1988 and was jailed for a year in 1977. He had also been subjected to repeated travel bans preventing him from leaving Palestine.

Upon his release, he urged broad attention to the struggle of Palestinian prisoners, emphasizing that the situation within Israeli prisons is escalating and that the prisoners’ movement is moving toward a general open hunger strike for the prisoners’ demands.

He also noted that he was leaving behind 23 Palestinian journalists in Israeli prisons; he particularly noted the case of fellow administrative detainee and journalist Mohammed al-Qeeq, on hunger strike for 16 days in protest of his administrative detention without charge or trial. Al-Qeeq secured his release previously in May 2016 with a 94-day hunger strike, before he was re-arrested by Israeli occupation forces on 15 January as he returned from a protest in Bethlehem demanding the return of the bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli occupation forces.

Nazzal also emphasized the case of the five imprisoned Palestinian journalists of Sanabel radio, Ahmad Daraweesh, Mohammed Sous, Nidal Amro, Montasser Nassar and Hamed Nammoura, imprisoned since 31 August 2016 when Israeli occupation forces invaded the station, ransacked the building and shut down broadcasting, imprisoning the five staff members and accusing them of “incitement.”

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network salutes Omar Nazzal on the occasion of his release and urges intensified efforts to free imprisoned Palestinian journalists and all Palestinian prisoners, especially as Mohammed al-Qeeq continues his hunger strike for freedom.