Israel arrests 144 Palestinians in April

Middle East Monitor  /  April 18, 2021

Israeli forces detained 144 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank in the first half of April, according to a Palestinian research center on Sunday, Anadolu Agency reported.

Six women and five children, including three from Jerusalem, were among those rounded up, the Ramallah-based Jerusalem Center for Studies said in a report.

Israeli forces also arrested four candidates in the upcoming legislative elections, including two from Palestinian group Hamas, the report said.

According to the Palestinian center, some of the detainees were released after a few days of arrest, without providing an exact number.

Hamas activists and candidates for legislative elections in the West Bank were “principally targeted”, Imad Abu Awwad, the head of the research center, told Anadolu Agency.

“This is a clear indication of the occupation’s attempt to interfere in the elections by disrupting Hamas electoral campaigns,” he said.

Abu Awwad continued: “Israel is practicing a form of intimidation against anyone trying to join the electoral process, and dissuading them from doing so.”

In a statement on Saturday marking the Prisoner’s Day, Hamas called on the international community to put pressure on Israel to ensure that the elections are held in the Palestinian territories.

“We call on the international community and the countries sponsoring the electoral process to respond to the occupation over its aggression,” Hamas said, in reference to the recent arrests by Israeli authorities of candidates from its list.

In January, a member of Hamas told Anadolu Agency that the movement has received guarantees from five countries namely: Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Qatar, and Russia, that elections will take place as scheduled.

Palestinians are scheduled to vote in legislative elections on May 22, presidential polls on July 31, and National Council polls on Aug. 31.

An estimated 4,500 Palestinians are believed to be held in Israeli prisons, including 41 women, 140 minors, and 440 administrative detainees, according to data compiled by organizations on the rights of prisoners.