Four Palestinians arrested late last week for attending a sukkot holiday event in a West Bank settlement were freed on Sunday evening, Channel 2 News reported.
The report said that the Israeli army’s chief coordinator with the Palestinian Authority, the Coordinator of Government Activity in the Territories, Major General Yoav Mordechai, had been instrumental in securing the men’s release. It did not give further details.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had earlier castigated human rights groups for remaining silent over the men’s four-day detention.
The four Palestinians were arrested Thursday after attending a Sukkot celebration in Efrat, a settlement outside of Jerusalem. During the holiday, it is customary for Jewish hosts to invite guests for meals inside the sukka — a tent-like structure meant to symbolize the dwellings that ancient Israelites used during 40 years in the desert after being released from slavery in Egypt.
A senior Palestinian security official said Sunday that “any Palestinian cooperation with settlers is viewed as violating the law, as he cooperates with the enemy.” He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to discuss the matter.
Efrat Mayor Oded Revivi, who hosted the gathering, called on the Palestinian Authority to release his guests.
“It is absurd that having coffee with Jews is considered a crime by the Palestinian Authority,” he said. “Initiatives that seek to foster cooperation and peace between people should be encouraged, not silenced. It’s time the Palestinian Authority asks itself whether it would prefer to fan the flames of conflict instead of working to bring people together.”
Netanyahu earlier on Sunday lashed out at rights groups, often vocal in their criticism of Israel, for what he said was their reluctance to condemn the imprisonment of the Palestinians.
“Where is the outrage of human rights organizations? There is none. To their great shame, they are silent,” Netanyahu wrote on Facebook. “I call on the international community to work to help free these innocent Palestinians whose imprisonment is yet another proof of the Palestinian refusal to make peace.”