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Palestinian writer Majd Kayyal arrested by Israeli police in Haifa

The journalist and his brother were released Tuesday evening after being detained for hours on unclear charges
Majd Kayyal was arrested in 2014 for travelling to Beirut for work (Adalah)

Palestinian writer, journalist and political activist Majd Kayyal was arrested by Israeli police at his home in Haifa on Tuesday morning and was released following hours of detention on unknown charges.

Kayyal, 30, is a prominent voice in the Palestinian citizens of Israel community and has written for Middle East Eye.

At 6am, police raided the home he shares with his mother, seizing Kayyal and his brother Ward, a student.

Upon their release on Tuesday evening, Kayyal wrote a Facebook post thanking people for their support, adding that the arrest was “complete nonsense and nothing but intimidation and repression, as usual, and just like it has happened with many young men and women in the recent period.”

'My neighbours told me there was a huge number of police cars out on the street when they arrested my sons, like it was a large operation'

- Suheir Badarneh, Kayyal's mother

Afnan Khalifa, a lawyer representing Kayyal, told Middle East Eye that the brothers are under investigation by the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic intelligence agency. Police gave Khalifa no other information and she has not spoken to Kayyal or his brother.

Suhair Badarni, Kayyal's mother, said: “I have no idea why they arrested him.

“At 6am I saw someone looking through my door and thought it was one of my sons. Then I realised it was 20 people from the police,” Badarni told MEE.

“I asked them if they had permission to enter but they came through the door aggressively nonetheless.”

Badarni said after entering her home, policemen made her sit in the living room and entered Kayyal’s bedroom where he was sleeping, before closing the door.

“Then they demanded I call my son Ward and tell him to come home. When I refused, they called him themselves and told him ‘we will arrest your mother unless you come home’,” she recalled.

After ransacking the home, the police confiscated the Kayyal brothers’ computers and phones, and departed with Majd and Ward.

“My neighbours told me there was a huge number of police cars out on the street when they arrested my sons, like it was a large operation,” Badarni said.

Kayyal was born in northern Israel’s Haifa, but his family are originally displaced from al-Birwa, a village in the Galilee known as the birthplace of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish.

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The 30-year-old studied philosophy at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and has participated in several political campaigns and projects.

He has written for Lebanese newspaper Assafir and the London-based daily al-Quds al-Arabi. His first novel, The Tragedy of Mr Matar, won the AM Qattan Foundation Young Writer Award.

Kayyal was arrested in 2014 after returning from Lebanon, which remains an enemy state of Israel.

Though many Israeli journalists and writers have previously travelled to “enemy states” for work purposes, Kayyal was arrested by Israeli police as he returned via Jordan and accused of contacting a foreign agent.

He was placed under a gag order for five days. Eventually, the charges were dismissed.