Israel’s Shin Bet security service on Monday accused a Palestinian journalist arrested this past weekend of belonging to a “terror group” after colleagues called for international support for his release.
Omar Nazzal, a member of the general secretariat of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS), was detained by Israeli officials on Saturday at the border between the West Bank and Jordan.
He was seeking to travel to a meeting of the European Federation of Journalists in Bosnia.
The Shin Bet said in response to an AFP query that he had been recently appointed a director of Palestine Today, a TV channel it declared illegal in February, and was active in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine — a group Israel considers a terror organization.
Omar Nazzal, member of the General Secretariat of the Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate in the West Bank, was just…
“Omar has for years been known to be a Popular Front activist: he was arrested now because of his involvement in current Popular Front activities,” Shin Bet said in a written reply.
It said he was not detained because of his journalism but over “his involvement in terror group activities”.
The PJS called on Sunday for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to intervene in Nazzal’s case.
Union officials met an ICRC representative Sunday in Ramallah in the West Bank, as journalists held a sit-in protest over the arrest.
“We explained to the ICRC that it was imperative to quickly visit Omar Nazzal,” Musa al-Sher, general secretariat member, told AFP.
The ICRC is the only international organization allowed to visit Palestinians held by Israeli authorities.
Nazzal’s wife told AFP she did not know where he is being held.
“I have no idea of his fate since he told me by phone Saturday he was arrested by Israel,” she said.
The Palestine Today offices in Ramallah were raided in March by the IDF after Israel accused it of incitement, amid a wave of terror attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers that have included stabbings, car-rammings, shootings and a suicide bombing in Jerusalem last week. The spate of attacks began in October.
The Palestinian information ministry on Sunday again accused Israel of targeting Palestinian journalists, sating that several local radio stations had also been raided in recent months.
In March, the International Federation of Journalists said it was “very concerned” by a wave of arrests of Palestinian journalists.