Palestinian-Italian researcher Khaled el-Qaisi’s detention extended for 11 days as movement grows for his release

On Thursday, 21 September, Palestinian-Italian researcher Khaled el-Qaisi’s detention was extended once again by an Israeli occupation court. He was ordered to 11 more days of interrogation — and once again denied visits with his lawyer. In Italy, demands are growing for his immediate liberation alongside official silence and a mainstream media blackout on the case.

El-Qaisi is a translator, researcher and student in the Department of Oriental Languages and Civilizations at Sapienza University of Rome who has been detained by Israeli occupation forces since 31 August. El-Qaisi, a Palestinian and Italian citizen, was visiting Palestine with his wife and four-year-old son. While leaving Palestine at the bridge to Jordan, he was suddenly seized by occupation forces and handcuffed in front of his young child. In Italy, El-Qaisi works with the Giovani Palestinesi d’Italia (Palestinian Youth of Italy) and is the co-founder of the Palestinian Documentation Center, a project that works to archive, translate and make accessible Palestinian historical documents, items and works.

He has been held in Petah Tikva interrogation center under daily interrogation since he was seized at the crossing. Middle East Eye reported that his younger brother and two of his cousins were arrested by the occupation forces days later; while his brother was released, his cousins remain jailed, like El-Qaisi, without charge and under interrogation.

El Qaisi’s lawyer has noted that the hearings he has been brought to so far have served only to extend his detention, and not to proffer any charges. Because he is a Palestinian-Italian citizen, he is being brought before a “civilian” court rather than a military court — but the process is almost identical for a Palestinian being detained for “security” (ie, political) reasons.

Hundreds of people packed Sapienza University on Friday, 15 September for a mass meeting and rally for his liberation, where his wife, Francesca Antinucci, and his mother, Lucia Marchetti, spoke alongside his lawyer, Flavio Rossi Albertini. A petition calling on the Italian government to act immediately to secure El Qaisi’s release has already garnered 30,000 signatures. Even Amnesty International has spoken out about his detention. Palestinian organizations, left parties and politicians in Italy have joined forces to call for his immediate release, with antifascist organizations, Communist youth groups and others postering and protesting for his liberation.

El-Qaisi is also receiving attention internationally. Anti-Imperialist Action Ireland has launched a campaign of action in solidarity with El-Qaisi, who previously traveled to Ireland on an Irish-Palestinian solidarity delegation. AIA has postered in several Irish cities, demanding his liberation. Samidoun Paris carried signs and posters demanding freedom for El-Qaisi at Fete de l’Humanite, the massive annual progressive festival in Paris.

The Centro Culturale Handala Ali in Napoli is holding an event on Friday, 22 September focusing on the struggle for Palestine against repression and imprisonment. Representatives of Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network and the Collectif Palestine Vaincra will be present to speak at the event, alongside a panel of speakers.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network urges the immediate liberation of Palestinian-Italian researcher, scholar and citizen Khaled El Qaisi. The Italian government and all concerned parties must take immediate action at all levels to ensure his safety and his immediate freedom. Allowing Khaled El Qaisi to remain arbitrarily detained by a racist setter colonial state is complicity in the Israeli attack on the Palestinian people, including Italian citizens. 

Free Khaled El Qaisi! Free all Palestinian Prisoners! Download and use the poster below for actions in your area: