Israel arrests Palestinian rights lawyer who protested Abbas

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A Palestinian human rights lawyer was detained by Israeli forces early Sunday after taking part in a protest in the occupied West Bank against Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, his rights group said.

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The Independent Commission for Human Rights said Farid al-Atrash was detained at an Israeli checkpoint while returning from a protest against the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, where the PA is headquartered. It said al-Atrash was transferred to Israel’s Hadassah Hospital.

Issa Amro, a prominent Palestinian activist and friend of al-Atrash, said he was released from the hospital hours later and was still being questioned by Israeli authorities. It’s unclear why he was hospitalized.

Neither the Israeli military nor the police responded to requests for comment.

Both Amro and al-Atrash have been arrested by Israel in the past for organizing and taking part in protests against its military occupation of the West Bank. But Amro said al-Atrash had recently focused his efforts on protesting the PA over Nizar Banat, an activist who died shortly after being violently arrested by Palestinian security forces last month.

He said another rights lawyer, Mohannad Karajah, who is defending protesters arrested by the PA, was briefly detained by Palestinian authorities on Sunday. Amro himself was detained by the PA last month and held overnight, days before Banat died in custody.

The Palestinian Authority does not comment publicly on arrests.

Israel and the Palestinian Authority coordinate security in the West Bank in order to suppress Hamas and other militant groups that both view as a threat. That policy is deeply unpopular among Palestinians and is one of several long-standing grievances fueling the recent protests.

Thousands of Palestinians have joined demonstrations in recent weeks against the PA, which governs parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The PA has grown increasingly unpopular and autocratic in recent years, even as Western countries continue to see it as a key partner in the moribund peace process.

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