Israel’s military on Monday ordered a well-known Palestinian journalist and terror suspect to be held for four months without charges or trial, in so-called administrative detention, his lawyer said.
Israel’s Shin Bet security service said Omar Nazzal, 53, a member of the general secretariat of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS), was detained because of “his involvement in terror group activities.”
Nazzal has been in Israeli custody since he was seized at an Israeli-run crossing between the West Bank and Jordan last month, while traveling to a meeting of the European Federation of Journalists.
Nazzal’s lawyer, Mahmoud Hassan, said an Israeli military commander signed the administrative detention order on Monday, and that a military court judge would review it later this week. The military had no immediate comment.
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 attacks against Israeli targets.
Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian political leader, on Monday urged immediate intervention “to ensure Israel is accountable for the blatant and planned escalation against Palestinian media.”
The journalists’ union says that Israel is also holding in detention another 19 Palestinian journalists and students of journalism, one of them for more than 20 years.
The number of Palestinians in administrative detention reached 627 at the end of February, according to official figures by the Israel Prison Service that are regularly published by the Israeli rights group B’Tselem. Critics say Israel’s large-scale use of the practice amounts to a violation of rules of due process.
The number of administrative detainees has doubled since the start of the current round of Israeli-Palestinian violence in September. Since the fall, Palestinians have carried out frequent attacks on Israelis, including stabbings or ramming by cars. The attacks have killed 28 Israelis and two Americans.
On the Palestinian side, some 200 people have been killed by Israeli fire — the vast majority in what Israel says were attacks or attempted attacks.
Israel has also forced the closure of several Palestinian television and radio stations since the outbreak of a wave of attacks.