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Israel detains 2 B’Tselem field researchers in Hebron

The Bakery Checkpoint in Hebron, late May 2017. [Siham Al-Fakhuri/B’Tselem]
The Bakery Checkpoint in Hebron, late May 2017. [Siham Al-Fakhuri/B’Tselem]

Israeli forces detained two field workers for Israeli human rights group B’Tselem in the city of Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank yesterday, the group reported, adding that one of them had since been released while the other remained in Israeli custody.

According to the statement, Manal Al-Ja’bri and Musa Abu Hashhashwere detained at a military checkpoint near the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron’s Old City while filming “severe restrictions on Palestinian movement” in the area, the NGO said.

Al-Ja’bri was initially detained by Israeli border police and taken to an Israeli police station in the nearby illegal settlement of Kiryat Arba, B’Tselem said, adding that she was interrogated over suspicions of “disturbing a police officer carrying out their duties”.

B’Tselem added that Abu Hashhash arrived to the Ibrahimi Mosque checkpoint later in the afternoon to document Israeli restrictions on Palestinians in the area and was detained on the scene for 40 minutes without being interrogated before Israeli forces released him.

Read: Israel arrests 2 Palestinians after Israelis storm Al-Aqsa Mosque

The human rights NGO added that both Al-Ja’bri and Abu Hashhash were prevented from contacting B’Tselem during their detention.

Over the years, B’Tselem field researchers and volunteers have repeatedly reported instances in which security forces prevented them from documenting human rights abuses, detaining them for hours on end and confiscating cameras.

“These actions stand in stark contradiction to the law, as well as to assurances that B’Tselem has received from the military and the Border Police that there is no impediment to B’Tselem staff and volunteers filming incidents in the Occupied Territories, as long as their actions do not interfere with the security forces’ mission,” the organisation said in its statement.

Palestinians working with B’Tselem have regularly been threatened by both Israeli forces and settlers for their work.

Israel divided Hebron following the 1994 Ibrahimi Mosque massacre, when American-born Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein opened fire on Muslim worshipers, killing 29 and injuring more than 120.

The Old City and surrounding areas were placed under Israeli military control in a sector known as H2. The Ibrahimi Mosque was also split and now forms a mosque and a synagogue.

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