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Palestinian writer among dozens arrested by Israel

In a fresh round of overnight raids, Israel arrests Ahmad Qatamesh and 31 others, including university students
Israel has recently made frequent arrests in the occupied West Bank, as it searches for "wanted" Palestinians (AFP)

Israeli forces arrested dozens of Palestinians in raids across the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, including prominent Palestinian writer Ahmad Qatamesh, the Palestine Prisoners' Society (PPS) said.

Qatamesh, 69, was arrested in his home in the city of al-Bireh, the group said. The reason for his arrest remained unclear.

Israel has previously accused Qatamesh of being a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a left-wing political group.

At time of publication, the spokesperson for the Shin Bet, the Israeli intelligence agency, had not replied to Middle East Eye's request for a comment. 

Qatamesh is no stranger to Israeli detention. The writer, academic, and activist was first arrested in the 1970s and jailed for four years.

In 1992, he was arrested again and spent six years on administrative detention - the longest period that a Palestinian prisoner was in detention without trial or charge.

The rights group Amnesty International called Qatamesh a "prisoner of conscience" after he was arrested again in 2017 and held without trial for three months.

"Qatamesh shouldn't spend a single minute more behind bars, let alone be detained for three months without charge or trial," Amnesty said at the time.

Arbitrary powers

The Israeli army has recently arrested several Palestinian activists in the occupied West Bank, alleging it is searching for "wanted" Palestinians, triggering clashes with residents.

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At least 31 other Palestinians, including university students, were arrested throughout the West Bank on Tuesday, Palestinian news agency Wafa said.

Nearly half of the arrests were made in the village of Issawiya in occupied East Jerusalem.

The raids are often conducted without search warrants, in keeping with Israel's sweeping arbitrary powers.

According to Palestinian figures, around 5,700 Palestinians - including many women and children - are currently sitting in Israeli detention facilities.