Israel releases Palestinian politician after 8 months in prison
06/18/2024 // Richard Brown // Views

Israeli authorities have released a Palestinian politician they held in custody for eight months.

According to the Middle East Eye, Israeli security forces released Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) Speaker Aziz Dweik on June 13. Eyewitnesses recounted to the Turkish news service Anadolu Ajansi that the top lawmaker of the Palestinian National Authority's (PA) unicameral legislature was dropped off at a military checkpoint in the city of Hebron at the Occupied West Bank.

The 77-year-old Dweik was arrested on Oct. 17, ten days after the Oct. 7 Operation Al-Aqsa Flood attack by Hamas. He was held under administrative detention for six months, which was later extended to two more months. Administrative detention in Israel allows for the holding of detainees on the grounds of a "security threat" without an indictment, typically for six months, with the possibility of extension.

During his detention, Dweik was held in a prison in the Negev desert. Images shared on social media show him looking significantly thinner than before his arrest.

The Palestinian Prisoners' Club accused authorities of medical neglect, stating in December that the PLC speaker suffered from anemia and hemoglobin deficiency due to diabetes, and had previously undergone two catheterization operations and kidney stone fragmentation. The group added that Dweik did not receive proper medical treatment and that his family was denied visitation rights to check on his health.

Dweik was elected speaker of the PLC in 2006. However, the legislature has not convened since 2007 and effectively ceased to function following the split between Fatah (Palestinian National Liberation Movement) and Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement) that year.

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Since Oct. 7, Tel Aviv has detained thousands of Palestinians from the Occupied West Bank, many of whom remain in administrative detention. The inclusion of Palestinians from the West Bank is an overreach by Israel, given that its enemy Hamas is mainly focused in the Gaza Strip. The PA governs the West Bank, in contrast to the Hamas-ruled Gaza.

Addameer NGO: Over 7,350 Palestinians arrested in the West Bank

According to the Addameer NGO based in the city of Ramallah, over 7,350 Palestinians have been arrested in the Occupied West Bank alone. While some have been released, 9,100 Palestinians remain in custody – a significant increase from the 5,200 held before Oct. 7.

These figures exclude the thousands of adults and children reportedly detained, tortured and interrogated by the Israeli army in makeshift prisons across Gaza, without any legal or civilian oversight. (Related: New report details Israel’s systematic sexual abuse and torture of Palestinians.)

An anonymous staff member of the NGO disclosed to Al Jazeera that Israeli authorities have become increasingly violent during arrests since Oct. 7. Once in custody, Palestinians are subjected to beatings and repeated strip searches. Detainees face even harsher conditions in prison – including cuts to water and electricity, denial of visits from relatives or the Red Cross and lack of medical care – leading to deaths due to health neglect.

"So far, 10 prisoners from the West Bank have died. This is the highest figure ever in such a short period," they said.

Among the 200 Palestinian children in Israeli prisons, 40 are under administrative detention. Severely or terminally ill detainees are often denied family visits and hope for release. One cancer patient died in an Israeli prison at age 23 after five months without seeing his family.

In Gaza, thousands of Palestinians have been arrested since the war began. Over the last five months, Israel has killed more than 31,000 Palestinians and displaced nearly the entire population of 2.3 million people in Gaza. Many have gone missing, raising fears they are either buried under rubble or held in makeshift prisons.

"Israel's sweeping use of administrative detention is not lawful," said Omar Shakir, the Israel-Palestine director at Human Rights Watch. "But these practices don’t just date back years, but decades, and they have only escalated since Oct. 7."

Watch this video about released prisoners recounting the torture and neglect of their health within Israeli detention centers.

This video is from the Cynthia's Pursuit of Truth channel on

More related stories:

UN probe finds Israel GUILTY of crimes against humanity in Gaza.

IDF kills at least 210 Palestinians in "bloody massacre" hostage rescue operation in central Gaza.

Biden administration considering direct negotiations with Hamas for release of remaining American hostages if current talks with Israel fail.

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