Urgent appeal: Police arrest leaders of the Palestinian minority in Israel

At least five leaders of the Palestinian minority in Israel, including the Chair of the High Follow-Up Commission, Muhammad Barakeh, and former Members of Parliament Haneen Zoabi and Sami Abu Shadeh, in addition to Yossef Tatour and Mahmoud Mawasi members of the Follow-Up Commission have been arrested this morning during a peaceful vigil calling for ceasefire in Nazareth. They are currently being held at the Nazareth police station, awaiting questioning. Mohammad Barakeh was transferred to another police station in Beit She’an.

The High Follow-Up Commission is the highest official body of the Arab-Palestinian minority in Israel, composed of the Arab Council of Mayors, former and current MPs, and other representatives. Arresting its leaders is a draconian anti-democratic measure, which reflects Israel’s continued assault on free speech, political association, and the civic rights of the Palestinian population.

The unlawful arrests today come at the heels of orders issued by the Israeli Police to ban all demonstrations calling to end the war in Gaza and the occupation, upheld by the Israeli supreme court yesterday (November 8). It reflects the swift intensification of state repression against the Palestinian minority, which includes legal prosecution of citizens who express their solidarity with Gaza or their Palestinian identity on social media, as well as swift amendments to Emergency Regulations, which sanction shooting live ammunition at unarmed civilian demonstrations.

Israel is receiving massive support from the international community for fighting Hamas under the pretext that it is a democratic state. Democratic states don’t repress political opposition during wars, precisely when dissent and public criticism are most important to protecting human rights and values. Democratic states don’t persecute their minorities, threatening to arrest, injure, or kill those who stand by their identity. Democratic states don’t put minority leadership under arrest.

Since October 7, when this war began, the Palestinian leadership, led by the Follow-Up Committee, has exhibited the highest level of public responsibility and did anything in its power to de-escalate tensions between Arabs and Jews inside Israel. The only conclusion that can be drawn from these arrests is that Israel’s extreme-racist government is doing all it possibly can to ignite more violence between Jews and Arabs, this time within the borders of the state.

We call upon you to act now to compel Israel to release the leaders, and all Palestinian citizens held in Israeli detention unlawfully and without justification.

We ask that you continue raising your voice against the atrocities committed in Gaza, and against Israel’s repression of legitimate dissent.

For additional information:

Reem Hazzan, Tel: +972-50-9104024

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