Shadi Ma’ali seized by disguised Israeli occupation forces in the heart of Bethlehem

Former long-term hunger striker and Palestinian refugee, Shadi Ma’ali, was seized by undercover occupation forces at dawn on Saturday, 17 March in the heart of the city of Bethlehem on Manger Street. Ma’ali, from Dheisheh refugee camp, was attacked by so-called “mustaribeen,” occupation forces that dress to appear as Palestinians.

Ma’ali, who was on hunger strike for over 40 days in 2015 with five of his comrades to demand an end to administrative detention, has been repeatedly arrested and has spent years in Israeli prisons. His fellow former hunger strikers have also been repeatedly targeted; Nidal Abu Aker is held without charge or trial under administrative detention while Ghassan Zawahreh has been transferred to the military courts after over a year and a half of imprisonment with no charge.

In a statement following Ma’ali’s abduction, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said that “the abduction…once again raises new questions about the Palestinian Authority security forces and their inability to protect Palestinian citizens or detect and respond to the ‘mustaribeen’ attackers…This crime will not succeed in breaking his will and determination.”

Abdel-Aziz Arafa

Meanwhile, the military court hearing of wounded Palestinian prisoner Abdel-Aziz Arafa, also from Dheisheh camp, was postponed until 8 April. Arafa was seized on 7 August 2017, the same night that fellow Palestinian refugee Raed al-Salhi was shot by Israeli occupation forces. Salhi was isolated from his family and denied visits in the hospital for a month before he was killed by his injuries. As Salhi was fatally shot, occupation forces also shot Arafa in the leg; he has been held in the Ramle prison clinic and has undergone multiple operations during his detention.

Salhi was a beloved son of the camp who was deeply involved in political organizing, library volunteering and many other aspects of camp life. From an impoverished family, he dedicated his life to the freedom of his people and was shot down, unarmed, by the occupation forces who sought to imprison him for this very reason.