Israeli authorities have extended by three months the detention without trial of a Palestinian journalist suspected of terrorist activity, who had been due for release Monday, a Palestinian NGO said Saturday.
The Ramallah-based Palestinian Prisoners Club said it had been informed by Omar Nazzal’s lawyers that the senior official in the Palestinian journalists’ union would not now be released at the end of his current term, on August 22.
“Israel is intensifying its policy of administrative detention and increasing the extensions of administrative detention,” prisoners club spokeswoman Amani Sarahneh told AFP.
“In particular it made this choice in the case of Omar.”
Israeli officials could not immediately be reached for comment on Saturday, as government institutions do not function during Shabbat.
Nazzal, 53, has been in custody since he was seized at the Israeli-controlled border crossing between the West Bank and Jordan in April, while traveling to a meeting of the European Federation of Journalists.
In May, his administrative detention was extended by four months.
He has been on a hunger strike since August 4 in protest against his detention, and international organizations have called for his release.
The Shin Bet security service said Nazzal, a member of the general secretariat of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS), was detained because of “his involvement in terror group activities.”
Nazzal headed Palestine Today, a TV station affiliated with the terror group Islamic Jihad, for five months, but quit earlier this year shortly before Israel shut it down. He also had ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a small PLO faction that in the past was involved in terror attacks against Israeli targets.
Of more than 6,295 Palestinians currently in Israeli jails, 692 Palestinians — including 2 women and 13 minors — are being held under administrative detention, according to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.
Israel says administrative detention is intended to allow authorities to hold suspects while continuing to gather evidence, with the aim of preventing further attacks in the meantime. The system has been criticized by Palestinians, human rights groups and members of the international community.
Palestinians have regularly gone on hunger strikes to protest their detentions.