Lawyer of Italian-Palestinian man held in Israeli jail says client being freed

Khaled El Qaisi, 27, slated to be released after he was allegedly detained for a month without charges; he was arrested when entering West Bank from Jordan

Illustrative. A person in handcuffs. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Illustrative. A person in handcuffs. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

ROME – An Italian-Palestinian student is due to be released after being detained by Israel without charges since August, his lawyer in Rome said Sunday.

Khaled El Qaisi, 27, was arrested August 31 while crossing from the West Bank to Jordan after a family vacation in his home city of Bethlehem.

Family members in Rome appealed to the Italian government last month to intervene on behalf of the university student, who was born in in the West Bank, but is also an Italian citizen.

His Italian lawyer, Flavio Rossi Albertini, confirmed to AFP on Sunday that El Qaisi was due to be released, but that there is no “official information.”

El Qaisi’s wife, Francesca Antinucci, told Il Manifesto daily that the Italian consul in Israel had confirmed to her the pending release.

Antinucci added that El Qaisi will be subject to bail and will be prohibited from leaving Israel for seven days.

Family members worried that El Qaisi, whom they said had been subject to daily interrogations while incarcerated, would be placed under administrative detention, a controversial measure enabling imprisonment without charges virtually indefinitely.

El Qaisi’s mother is Italian and his father Palestinian, the Middle East Eye reported last month. He was raised in Bethlehem and studied at Sapienza University in Rome, where he helped found the Palestinian Documentation Centre, which promotes Palestinian history and culture.

According to the report, El Qaisi’s vacation included registering his marriage to an Italian woman and the birth of their 4-year-old son with the Palestinian civil registry, as well as a visit to Jordan.

However, as the family tried to use the Allenby Bridge crossing from the West Bank into Jordan, he was pulled aside and their luggage and mobile phones taken by Israeli officials, the report said.

El Quaisi was led away in handcuffs, his wife, Francesca Antinucci, told the outlet, and she herself was also interrogated before finally being released and sent on her way with her son. According to Antinucci, she was told to leave without her mobile phone or any money, as they had been seized.

“I asked the officers how we could continue the journey, since they had seized everything. They replied that it was not their problem,” she recalled.

She was eventually able to contact the Italian embassy in Jordan and three days later returned to Italy.

An Israeli soldier stands at the entrance to the Allenby border crossing, the main border crossing for Palestinians from the West Bank traveling to neighboring Jordan and beyond, March 10, 2014. (AP/Sebastian Scheiner/File)

According to the report, after El Qaisi’s arrest, his brother and two cousins were arrested in Bethlehem, though his sibling was later released.

The Italian consul in Tel Aviv has visited Al Qaisi at least twice and informed Antinucci, the lawyer, that he appeared to be in good health.

The case was brought to the attention of the Italian parliament and thousands protested in the streets of Rome for his release, including in demonstrations held on Saturday.

An online petition calling for his release garnered over 30,000 signatures.

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