The Head of the Hamas Political Bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, has called on Saudi Arabia's King Salman Bin Abdulaziz to release Palestinians being held in his country's prisons, fearing for their lives from the spread of the coronavirus, Anadolu has reported.
"In light of the pandemic that is sweeping the world, and out of fear for the lives of the honourable brothers, as well as all the human and religious aspects of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in dealing with the Palestinian cause (…), the release of the Palestinians becomes a humanitarian and national necessity, and we are all sure that His Majesty will not hesitate to do it," explained Haniyeh in a media statement. "On the night of Israa and Mi'raj [the Night Journey of Prophet Muhammad] in which Allah the Almighty strengthened the sacred bond between the land of the Two Holy Mosques and the land of Palestine, we call upon the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques to take a long-awaited decision to release our people from prisons. Such places were not made for men who have served their legitimate cause and their people in line with the main role of the Kingdom and its welcoming people."
Hamas said on 9 March that the Saudi authorities had started prosecuting a number of its supporters. A statement issued earlier by the movement pointed out that the Palestinians in detention "have not committed any sin or crime; their only crime according to the Saudi State Security Service appears to be that they supported the sacred Palestinian cause." Riyadh has not yet issued any comment on the matter.
According to the Khodari family, on 8 March the Criminal Court in Saudi Arabia held its first session to try a number of Palestinian and Jordanian detainees, including two of its members, Muhammad Al-Khodari, 81, a senior official in Hamas, and his eldest son, Hani. The family noted that almost 70 other people have been prosecuted for "belonging to a terrorist organisation and collecting funds". The court is scheduled to hold its next session in the first week of May.
Observers believe that the arrest of Muhammad Al-Khodari and his colleagues is politically-motivated as part of Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman's normalisation of Saudi Arabia's links with the occupation state of Israel. Mr Al-Khodari has been the officially-recognised representative of Hamas in the Kingdom for many years.