Israeli authorities have today released Palestinian writer and journalist Lama Khater after she served a 13-month jail sentence.
Hazem Al-Fakhouri, Khater’s husband, said that she was released by the authorities in the north of the West Bank, at the Jalameh checkpoint, informing the Turkey-based Anadolu Agency that “Lama is in good health and is on her way home.”
Khater, aged 42 and the mother of five children, was arrested on 24 July 2018 in her home city of Hebron after Israeli occupation forces started to investigate her “writings and membership in a banned organisation”, accusing her of incitement to violence through her numerous newspaper articles for Palestinian and Arab papers and online sites.
Following her arrest, she was transferred to Ashkelon prison and, according to the non-governmental organisation the Palestinian Prisoners Club, she was subjected to “a harsh and continuous investigation, which lasted for more than 20 hours a day, confined to a chair all the time.” Then followed months of her trial being constantly postponed and her being repeatedly moved to different prison locations, with no official charges revealed.
In the days leading up to her arrest, she wrote a series of tweets in which she criticised the Israeli authorities’ prevention of Muslims entering and worshiping in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem. Previously in her years of work as a journalist and political analyst, she had been threatened by the Israeli and Palestinian Authority (PA) intelligence services.
Khater’s case is one of many in Israel’s widespread persecution of Palestinian journalists, which has increased throughout the years as the Jewish state has conducted a crackdown on media organisations and individuals criticising it. In April this year, Israel was reported to have committed 150 violations against journalists over the previous three months alone.
Night-time raids and arrests of the homes of Palestinian journalists, the prevention of foreign journalists from commenting on the atrocities committed, the shutting down of Palestinian news outlets and TV stations, and the widespread use of the method of administrative detention are among the tactics Israel has employed to silence any form of dissent against the occupation’s violations.