Palestinian Peace Activists Arrested, Charged for Participating in Video Call with Israelis
Military prosecutors in Gaza have charged three Palestinian peace activists with “weakening revolutionary spirit” after the activists took part in a video call with Israelis.
The activists are from the Gaza Youth Committee and had participated in a video call in April as a part of an event they called “Skype With Your Enemy.”
The group had hoped to encourage Israelis to become leaders who advocated for peace in their country.
Raji Sourani, the director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights said the Palestinian activists could face prison time and hard labor.
According to the New York Times, the video call had more than 200 participants on Zoom. Participants included people from Europe, the United States, Palestine and Israel.
Hamas later arrested Rami Aman, the leader of the Gaza Youth Committee and others who took part in the call.
Gaza officials did not respond to requests for comment last week.
In April, however, the spokesman for the Hamas-run Interior Ministry said the activists had taken part in “normalization activity,” saying any communication with Israel was “a crime punishable by law and a betrayal of our people and its sacrifices.”
Hamas does allow communication with Palestinian merchants, the sick and Palestinian Authority officials, but officials condemn communication with Israelis on a sociopolitical level.
As of late September, two of the three activists are still in jail. They have not been charged, the New York Times reports.
“He’s in a very difficult state,” said a family member of Aman. “It’s really concerning for us.”
The third man arrested, Manar al-Sharif, was released on bail in June.
The case “is part of a pattern of Hamas authorities arbitrarily arresting activists for their peaceful free expression,” said Omar Shakir, Human Rights Watch director for Israel and Palestine. “The fact that they are now prosecuting them after more than five months of detention compounds this injustice.”
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Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.