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Palestinian Security Seizes Israeli Arab Critical of Arafat

January 3, 1996
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A Palestinian human rights activist who had claimed that Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat committed human rights violations was seized this week by Palestinian security officials.

Both Israelis and Palestinians criticized the arrest and called for the immediate release of Bassam Eid, a researcher for the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.

Human rights activists said Eid, a resident of eastern Jerusalem with Israeli citizenship, was taken late Tuesday from his home.

The security officials were reported to be holding Eid in the West Bank town of Ramallah, which Israel transferred to Palestinian rule Dec. 27 under the terms of an accord for expanding West Bank autonomy.

Eid was reportedly being held by members of Force 17, one of several security bodies operating under the Palestinian Authority.

Citing Eid’s Israeli citizenship, members of the Labor Party appealed to Prime Minister Shimon Peres to demand that Arafat order his immediate release.

The Israeli peace group Peace Now also denounced the detention.

“The arrest of a human rights worker who has earned the respect of people who support peace and oppose the occupation harms the peace process and the trust between the two nations,” Peace Now said in a statement.

Faisal Husseini, the top Palestinian official in eastern Jerusalem, and Palestinian human rights activist Hanan Ashrawi also denounced the arrest.

“I don’t know why they arrested Bassam Eid, but if it is illegal then we oppose it,” Husseini told Israel Radio.

Izhar Be’er, the director of B’Tselem, spoke to Eid by telephone the morning after his arrest.

“He said a Palestinian police officer came to his home at 11 p.m. in East Jerusalem and asked him to accompany him for questioning. His wife called me this morning and said he was under arrest,” Be’er said.

He added that because Eid was an Israeli citizen, the arrest was illegal under the terms of the accords reached between Israel and the PLO.

The agreements stipulate that the Palestinian Authority is barred from making arrests in eastern Jerusalem and other areas not under Palestinian autonomy.

Eid recently spoke out against the arrest of Palestinian newspaper editor Maher Al-Alami, who had refused to publish a story about Arafat on the front page. Alami was released after six days.

In August, Palestinian security officials threatened Eid after he helped write a report citing instances of torture by Palestinian troops.

There was no official comment from the Palestinian Authority about Eid’s arrest.

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