Israeli occupation launches arrest wave targeting Palestinian leftists, community leaders

Israeli occupation forces have targeted a number of prominent Palestinian organizers in the occupied West Bank of Palestine with raids and arrests in the past several days, including several leading Palestinian leftist political figures and activists.

Omar Shehadeh

On Monday, 7 June, Omar Shehadeh, a high-profile political leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was seized by occupation forces as he attempted to enter occupied Jerusalem at the Qalandiya checkpoint. Shehadeh, 68, who has represented the PFLP at the PLO Executive Committee, has repeatedly spoken out to demand an end to Palestinian Authority security coordination with Israeli occupation forces and a complete repudiation of the path of the Oslo accords and negotiations. He has been detained on multiple occasions in the past by Israeli occupation forces.

In a statement released by the PFLP following Shehadeh’s arrest, the Front noted that “Since its establishment until now, the PFLP has been subjected to attacks, prosecutions, arrests, continuous targeting and assassinations of its leaders, but it has always emerged stronger and more determined to move forward in the path of resistance. Leaders on the ground are coming forward in the battle to replace the leaders who are being arrested.”

Ashraf Abu Aram

Also on 7 June, Ashraf Abu Aram and Rami Fadayel were among 17 Palestinians seized by occupation forces in a series of raids and attacks. Abu Aram, seized from Bir Zeit after being beaten by occupation soldiers, is a community organizer and former electoral candidate who has been repeatedly targeted for political detention, most recently jailed without charge or trial under administrative detention after returning from an international training in Bangkok. Administrative detention orders, first introduced to Palestine by British colonialism, are routinely used by the Israeli military to imprison Palestinians for up to six months at a time; the orders are indefinitely renewable and Palestinians often are jailed for years without ever being charged or knowing when they might win their freedom.

Rami Fadayel

Rami Fadayel has also been repeatedly jailed without charge or trial under administrative detention. In 2017, when he was detained previously, Haneen Nassar, Fadayel’s wife and an organizer with the Palestinian Prisoners’ Committee, a popular organization in Palestine that works to support the prisoners’ struggle and demand their freedom, said that she and her husband have never been able to enjoy a free and safe life since their marriage. Fadayel has been arrested repeatedly; they marked their engagement while he was imprisoned, and their daughter, Mays, now a young teenager, has not seen her father in their home for nearly half of her life.

Occupation forces also seized Majd al-Ramahi, Atta Sharakah, Muayyad al-Sharbi, Fahd al-Zaatari, Abdallah al-Hashlamoun, Abdul-Rahman Abu Asab, Adam Sub Laban, Mohammed Abu Asab, Mahdi Salama and Ahmed Rukn from various parts of occupied Palestine.

Ghassan Zawahreh

On Tuesday, 8 June, the attacks continued as occupation forces seized Ghassan Zawahreh from Dheisheh refugee camp. Zawahreh was released only two months ago from two and a half years in administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial. Zawahreh has spent over 17 years in Israeli prisons, over half of those in administrative detention without charge or trial.

Married and a father, he and his family have faced frequent imprisonment by Israeli forces; only his mother and sister have been allowed to visit him throughout his various detentions. He has participated in a number of hunger strikes and collective mobilizations behind bars.

During his time in prison, his brother Moataz was shot dead by Israeli occupation forces on 15 October 2015 as he participated in a protest in Dheisheh camp; he had returned home from study in France in order to support Ghassan in the strike. Upon his release on 30 November, Ghassan immediately went to his brother’s gravesite to honor his loss. His brother Mohammed served five years in Israeli occupation; his younger brother Ahmad and Hamdan have both been arrested; Hamdan was held for nearly two years by Israeli military forces.

He was in his last year of studies in social work at the Open University of Jerusalem when he was arrested in 2008, and has been prevented from completing his studies through multiple arrests. He is well-known in the camp as a community activist and volunteer in popular programs that provide social services on a grassroots and collective basis.

In addition to Zawahreh, occupation forces seized Mohammed Raouf Abu Yabis, Qusai Adely Hamamreh, Ali Mohammed Musleh, Ahmed Izzat Abu Dayyeh, Yousef Odeh, Mohammed al-Asma, Oraib Mohsen Abu Khdeir, Mohammed Walid Abu Khdeir, Saif Walid Abu Khdeir, Mahmoud Qawariq, Sameh Qawariq, Nader Sawafta, Osaid al-Kharraz, Osaid Shtayyeh, Nazem Shtayyeh, Thameen Hamdan, Baraa Hamad, Wajd Tanatra, Mansour Tanatra, Abdel-Karim Ziadah, Mamoun Sabah, Adam Banat, Ahmed Abu Sharar, Riyad al-Amour, Fouad al-Rajabi and Mohammed al-Rajabi on 8 and 9 June.

There are currently over 5,300 Palestinian prisoners detained in Israeli jails, including 530 held under administrative detention without charge or trial, 41 Palestinian women and 140 children. Palestinian prisoners are leaders of the Palestinian struggle, engaged behind bars in a constant battle for liberation, not only for themselves, but for the land and people of Palestine, from the river to the sea. Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network urges people of conscience around the world to join us to take action to free Omar Shehadeh, Ashraf Abu Aram, Rami Fadayel, Ghassan Zawahreh and all prisoners of the Palestinian cause jailed in Zionist, imperialist and reactionary regimes’ prisons.


Protest at the Israeli Embassy or Consulate in Your Country!

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Boycott Israel

The international, Arab and Palestinian campaign to boycott Israel can play an important role at this critical time. Local boycott groups can protest and label Israeli produce and groceries. During Ramadan, Israeli dates from stolen Palestinian land are marketed around the world while Israel attempts to force Palestinians from Jerusalem, demolish homes, and imprisons thousands more. By participating in the boycott of Israel, you can directly help to throw a wrench in the economy of settler colonialism. Download our Boycott Flyer to distribute at supermarkets, stores and other venues in your community! Block the Boat – join the campaigns to stop Israeli apartheid shipping internationally, which just won a major victory in Oakland, turning back an Israeli ZIM ship from unloading at the port.

Demand Your Government Sanction Israel!

The racist, settler colonial state of Israel and its war crimes against the Palestinian people are enabled and backed extensively by the over $3.8 billion each year given to Israel by the United States — targeted directly to support the Israeli occupation military killing children, women, men and elders throughout occupied Palestine. From Canada to Australia to the European Union, Western governments and imperialist powers provide ongoing diplomatic, political and economic support to Israel as well as selling billions of dollars of weaponry to the settler-colonial state. Meanwhile, they also purchase billions of dollars in weaponry from the Israeli state. Governments in league with imperialist powers, such as in the Philippines, Brazil, India and elsewhere, also buy weapons and “security” services — all “battle-tested” on the Palestinian population. Call your representatives, MPs, political officials and demand your government sanction Israel now, cut off all aid, expel its ambassadors, and stop buying and selling weapons!