Three Leading Palestinians Under Administrative Arrest

Three prominent Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip were placed under administrative arrest Tuesday, allowing them to be held in custody without trial for as long as a year.

Warrants were handed to Radwan Abu-Ayyash, 40, chairman of the Palestinian Journalists Association, and Zayyad Abu-Zayyad, 50, editor of the Hebrew-language Palestinian weekly Gesher. Both men were summoned to military government headquarters in Ramallah and Bethlehem respectively.

They, along with Dr. Ahmad Yazgi of Gaza, who was also arrested, are purported to be senior leaders of the intifada and veteran activists of Al Fatah, the military arm of Yasir Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization.

Administrative arrest, a legal means retained by Israel from the British Mandate, permits the detention of persons by military order for six months, which can be extended for further six-month periods without specific charges or trial.

The detention orders for the three men arrested Tuesday were authorized by Defense Minister Moshe Arens and signed by Gen. Yitzhak Mordechai, Israel Defense Force commander for the central region.

Palestinian nationalist leader Faisal Husseini on Tuesday evening accused the “occupation authorities” of resorting to oppressive measures to “break the will of the Palestinian people.”

Asked if the three arrests might not have been a substitute for his own, Husseini, who spent 18 months in administrative detention himself two years ago, replied, “The night is young.”

Another prominent nationalist, East Jerusalem editor Hanna Siniora, predicted that the arrests would increase tension between Arabs and Jews and further complicate the situation.

Abu-Ayyash’s attorney, Ali Ghozlan, announced he would appeal the detention order. But Israeli courts have yet to override a military warrant for administrative arrest.

According to security sources, the chairmanship of the Journalists Association is a front to cover Abu-Ayyash’s activities as a key Al Fatah leader in the West Bank.

The sources claimed the journalist belonged to the intifada’s clandestine Unified Command and “guided” its “shock committees,” which are involved in violence and terrorism against suspected collaborators.

He was also accused of inciting violence in the administered territories and maintaining regular contacts with the PLO overseas.

According to the sources, Abu-Zayyad is also deeply involved with Al Fatah and writes the inflammatory leaflets circulated by the intifada command.

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