Palestinian prisoner released after 35-year sentence extended over unpaid fine

MEE Staff

Middle East Eye  /  April 5, 2021

Israel tacked on an additional 12 days to Rushdie Abu Mokh’s sentence over an unpaid traffic fine from the 1980s.

Israeli authorises released on Monday a Palestinian citizen of Israel who had spent 35 years in Israeli prisons over his alleged involvement in the kidnapping and killing of an Israeli soldier in 1984.

Rushdie Abu Mokh, 58, is originally from the Palestinian-majority town of Baqa al-Gharbiyye in northern Israel.

He was one of the few Palestinian political prisoners detained prior to the 1993 Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) to have still been held by Israel.

According to Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer, 4,400 Palestinians were detained by Israel as of March, 26 of whom were serving prison sentences dating back to before 1993.

Abu Mokh was released from the notorious Israeli desert prison of Ketziot in the Negev, in southern Israel.

While he was due to be released in late March, his prison sentence was extended by Israeli authorities by an additional 12 days over a traffic violation he reportedly committed 35 years ago and had not paid the fine for.

Prisoner swap

Abu Mokh, then in his early 20s, was arrested in March 1986, along with Ibrahim Abu Mokh, Walid Daqqa and Ibrahim Biadseh on charges that the group had kidnapped and killed Israeli soldier Moshe Tamam two years before. Ibrahim Abu Mokh, Daqaa and Biadseh are still imprisoned.

Israel refused to release the four men in 2016 as part of a prisoner swap deal with the Hamas movement in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

They were reportedly included in a deal brokered by then-US Secretary of State John Kerry in 2013 to release long-serving Palestinian prisoners as a tool to kick-start peace talks between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israel, but were not freed.

Abu Mokh lost his parents and a brother while he was in prison. Palestinian news sources reported that he visited their graves first thing after his release.

The family of Tamam, the slain Israeli soldier, has called for Israel’s interior minister to revoke Abu Mokh’s Israeli citizenship, according to Ynet.