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Israel arrests Palestinian writer Ahmad Qatamesh

Israel has carried out around 70 West Bank raids per week in 2017 [AFP]

Date of publication: 14 May, 2017

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Israeli security forces have carried out raids in the West Bank and arrested at least 14 people, including a renowned Palestinian writer.

Israel arrested at least 14 people in the occupied West Bank, including prominent Palestinian writer and political activist Ahmad Qatamesh.

Qatamesh, 66, was most recently held for two-and-a-half years under administrative detention - Israel's controversial policy of detaining Palestinians without charge.

According to local sources, the writer was taken in by security forces at his home in the city of al-Bireh near Ramallah, following a search of his home.

On the same day as Qatamesh's arrest, Israeli froces also raided houses and made arrests in the town of al-Tira, southern Bethlehem district.

Other arrests were made in the al-Farah refugee camp in Tubas district, Qalqiliya city and Jenin, an Israeli army spokesperson said.

One of the arrests in Jenin was of an alleged "Hamas operative".

Israeli raids into Palestinian towns and villages are a regular occurence, with the IDF often targeting political activists and journalists.

According to data recorded by the United Nations, Israel carried out an average of 95 weekly raids in the West Bank in 2016. So far for 2017, the IDF has carried out an average of 70 per week.
Qatamesh, who has been described by Amnesty International as a "prisoner of conscience", was released from detention in Israel four years ago after serving an indefinite period under administrative detention.
The administrative order for Qatamesh in 2011 alleged that the writer was a Hamas member - a charge that Palestinian rights group Addameer slammed as "absurd". He was also accused of being a membership of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

In 1992, Qatamesh spent six years in detention without charge and later wrote about his experiences in the book I Shall not Wear your Tarboush.

He had also spent 17 years in hiding from 1976, and is currently banned from travel by Israeli authorities.
Some 6,500 Palestinians are currently detained by Israel for a range of offences and alleged crimes. Around 500 are held under administrative detention, which allows imprisonment without charge. 

Over a thousand Palestinian prisoners are currently on hunger strike to demand an end to the practice and other controversial measures.

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