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Palestinian women's organisations appeal for solidarity after arrest of leading activists

PALESTINIAN women’s organisations called for international solidarity today after the arrest of prominent feminist and left-wing activists in a series of raids in the early hours of Monday morning.

Israeli occupation forces stormed the homes of women’s movement and student leaders in the occupied West Bank on the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration of November 2 1926.

President of the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees (UPCW) Khitam Saafin was detained along with Shatha al-Tawil, a student at Birzeit University, in their homes in al-Bireh.

In simultaneous raids, Israeli security forces hauled in trade union activist Mohammed Jawabreh and prominent left-wing activist Jamal Barham after ransacking their homes.

UPCW condemned the arrest of Ms Saafin, who has previously been held in jail on administrative-detention orders, meaning she can be held indefinitely without trial or knowledge of the charges against her.

The raids came at a time when oppression of Palestinian women is escalating. Students in particular are being targeted, with hundreds in jail, including leading activists from Birzeit University.

The UPWC called on “all strugglers for freedom in Palestine and internationally to carry out campaigns of solidarity with Palestinian prisoners, and all those who struggle, until their liberation.”

Mr Barham is the former head of the Arab Studies department in the Palestine Liberation Organisation and has been subjected to administrative detention charges by the occupying Israeli forces in the past.

A demonstration took place today in Ramallah demanding freedom for all political prisoners.

It happened as Palestinian hunger-striker Maher al-Akhras entered his 100th day without food amid growing concerns for his health.

He is being held on an administrative-detention order, due to expire on November 26, but demands are being made for his immediate release.

The Samidoun Prisoner Solidarity Network denounced the latest attack on the Palestinian women and students, calling for international solidarity with those targeted by the Israeli occupation.

It urged people of conscience to take action “including by building the movement for the boycott of Israel, its institutions and complicit corporations such as HP, Puma and G4S.”

“The Israeli occupation wants … to continue its unchecked colonisation of Palestine by isolating and detaining the leaders of the Palestinian people’s movement.”


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