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Balad condemns unprecedented Israeli arrests of senior officials

Israeli Arab Knesset member, Haneen Zoabi
Israeli Arab Knesset member, Haneen Zoabi [Middle East Monitor]

Balad, a political party representing the interests of Palestinian citizens of Israel, has condemned the arrests of senior officials and activists by the Israeli authorities.

The statement, dated 25 September, says that Balad “unequivocally denies all allegations and calls for the immediate release of all activists.”

On 18 September Israeli police forces raided the homes of Balad’s political leadership, arresting the party chair and other activists. “This was followed by another wave of arrests four days later, and was coordinated with investigations with hundreds of the party’s members.”

Balad notes that Israeli courts have “extended the remand of some of those arrested for a third time leaving them in jail now for over a week”, including party chair Awad Abdel Fattah, “while others have been released to house arrest under strictly-limiting conditions.”

The statement notes that, “from the little that has been since revealed”, the police claim that Balad members were arrested “for allegations related to money laundering on behalf of the party and for violations of the Party Funding Law.”

However, “the details of the allegations remain secret and are still being withheld from the public, the arrestees themselves and their attorneys.”

According to Balad, “never before in the political history of Israel has the entire leadership of a political party been targeted by police in a wave of arrests for similar allegations.”

Balad has three parliamentarians in the Knesset, who sit as part of the Joint List.

For Balad, the arrests “reek of political persecution of the very worst kind, and come close in the wake of Israel’s recent move to outlaw the Islamic Movement-Northern Branch”, adding that the developments are “directly linked to recent racist legislation approved by Israeli lawmakers, such as the Expulsion Law, designed to target the Palestinian Arab political representatives from within.”

Balad believes that the targeting of their senior leaders is intended “to de-legitimise Arab political activism.”

This series of night time arrest raids, targeting the entire leadership of a political party in the Israeli parliament, marks a disproportionate and dangerous turning point in the relationship between the state of Israel and its Palestinian Arab citizens. The state is gradually but systematically implementing a strategy intended to eliminate all political opposition that does not abide by the Zionist hegemonic consensus.

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