Israel has arrested Al Jazeera’s Afghanistan bureau chief, a Palestinian, on
charges of ties to Hamas.
Samer Allawi, 46, was picked up August 10 on
the border between the West Bank and Jordan, the Arabic-language satellite
station said Tuesday.
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Allawi was detained August 10 after a three-week
visit with family in Sebastia, a village adjacent to Nablus. He had been
remanded by an Israeli military court a week after being taken into custody
while trying to cross from the West Bank into Jordan in order to return to
An Israeli security official confirmed Allawi’s arrest and
court appearance but gave no further details on the case.
Al-Omary, Al Jazeera’s bureau chief in Israel and the Palestinian territories,
said the military court accused Allawi of making contact with members of Hamas’s
Al Jazeera Arabic’s website posted footage of Allawi
appearing in court in an Israel Prison Services uniform.
nothing in this investigation that I believe harms Israel, like it is being
claimed, or has any relationship with my work in this entire region,” he told
Al Jazeera’s relationship with Israeli authorities in recent
years has been fraught.
In 2008 Deputy Foreign Minister Majalli Wahabi
said Jerusalem would deny visas to Al Jazeera employees, and prohibit officials
from speaking to the network, due to what he described as its biased coverage in
favor of Hamas.
The following year Israel imposed sanctions on Al Jazeera
after its home base of Qatar closed the Israeli trade office in the country to
protest the Gaza offensive.
Since then, Al Jazeera employees’ access has
been restricted to spokespeople from the Prime Minister’s Office, Foreign
Ministry and IDF Spokesman’s Unit.
An article posted Tuesday on the Al
Jazeera Arabic website referred nine times to Israeli “occupation authorities,”
and the network’s English website said Allawi was being held in a ”prison camp
at Petah Tikva detention center.”