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Prominent Palestinian astrophysicist set to administrative detention by Israeli military order

Dr. Imad Barghouthi, Professor of Physics at Al-Quds University, Palestine [Twitter]

On September 2nd Dr. Imad Barghouthi, Professor of Physics at Al-Quds University, Palestine, was placed under administrative detention until November 15th by an order of an Israeli military commander in the West Bank which came only hours before his scheduled release on bail.

Prof. Barghouthi was first arrested on July 16th at an Israeli check-point, then held without charges for over two weeks and then finally charged in relation to his Facebook activity. After thousands of scholars worldwide demanded Prof. Barghouthi to be freed from prison, his lawyer successfully argued for his release on bail which was granted by the judge on his case on September 2nd. Then an Israeli military order was issued in contradiction to the decision of the judge, indefinitely continuing the unlawful imprisonment of Prof. Barghouthi.

His family and children are suffering in his absence and are anxious for his release. This prolonged imprisonment, illegally resorting to administrative detention to prevent a release on bail, also “[…] infringes on the rights of my students, my research and scientific activities” as Prof. Barghouthi himself writes in a letter from prison circulated by the international organisation Scientists for Palestine.

“The repeated arrest of one of Palestine’s most active and prominent scientists is a direct attack to Palestinian’s right to science protected under article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Israel is a signatory, as well as the article 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights” says 2018 Chemistry Nobel Laureate George Smith. “The violation of the right to science anywhere is an attack to scientists everywhere”.

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This is not the first time that the Israeli military forces have arrested professor Barghouti, one of Palestine’s most prominent scientists. In 2014 he was placed under administrative detention for two months, and in 2016 he was again detained for six months. In both cases, his arrest triggered significant condemnation from the international scientific community. And the arrest of Prof. Barghouthi is not an isolated event, but part of a broader pattern of disruption and repression of Palestinian culture and civil society.

Lives of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails - Cartoon [Arabi 21]

Lives of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails – Cartoon [Arabi 21]

“As a concerned member of the international scientific community, I condemn in the strongest possible terms the arbitrary and unlawful detention of professor Imad Barghouthi,” said Franz Ulm, professor of Civil and Environmental engineering at MIT. “This is a senseless attack on Prof. Barghouthi and his family, as well as his students and the scientific community everywhere in the world”.

Administrative detention, a procedure employed by Israeli authorities to jail indefinitely without trial and without charges and used routinely against Palestinians, has been condemned by the UN and is in direct violation of Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. “It is truly frightening that Israeli authorities can so arbitrarily harass a distinguished Palestinian colleague, using internationally recognized illegal practices. We need a strong response from the international scientific community!” said Mario Martone, theoretical physicist, and spokesman for Scientists for Palestine.

In response to Prof. Imad Barghouthi’s detention, Scientists for Palestine has launched a petition supported by scholars including linguist Noam Chomsky, Nobel laureate George Smith, and Field Medalist David Mumford, among many others, calling on people to demand fair treatment for Prof. Barghouthi by signing the petition at this link.

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