Israeli intelligence officers are "hounding" an Arab-Israeli PhD student for taking part in a pro-Palestine conference held in Madrid, Safa news agency reported on Wednesday. According to Khalid Mahajneh, the lawyer acting on behalf of Somaiya Falah, this started on 11 January when her house was raided, her mobile phone content was searched and her laptop computer was confiscated.
The lawyer added that Israeli intelligence officers detained and investigated Falah for more than 12 hours. She is being held under house arrest in Haifa, well away from her home village.
Although Mahajneh knew that she was investigated for contacting a "foreign agent", he found out later that it was because she participated in Al-Awda Conference, a pro-Palestine event held recently in Madrid. The Israel authorities, he added, have decided that the Palestinian who arranged her participation is a "foreign agent".
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However, the lawyer pointed out that the conference was a public event attended by Palestinians from around the world. Contacts and meetings in Madrid did not have any security connotations, he insisted.
Falah is under house arrest, prevented from using the internet or contacting anyone outside, and is prevented from attending her workplace, the Technical Institute. Moreover, she is banned from travelling until April. Her relatives are banned from attending court hearings related to her case.
In the meantime, the Israeli media is said to be inciting people against her by adopting a one-sided narrative. This, claimed Mahajneh, is intended to act as a deterrent to other Palestinian citizens of Israel from taking part in international events in support of their legitimate right of return.
Earlier this week, Arab-Israel citizens in Haifa organised a gathering in solidarity with Falah. They stressed that Israel will not succeed in its efforts to separate them from the Palestinians in the occupied territories or in exile abroad.