With friends like these
KHALED AMAYREH, the Al-Ahram Weekly correspondent in the West Bank was arrested Sunday evening by the Preventive Security Forces (PSF) in Hebron. He was released after two days. Amayreh, 52, lives in Dura, 12 miles southwest of Hebron and has worked as the Weekly correspondent since 1997, as well as for a number of other media outlets.
He has a BA in journalism from the University of Oklahoma and an MA in journalism from the University of Southern Illinois. For a long time, he suffered, as do all Palestinians in the occupied territories, being confined by the occupation to his home village.
Not long ago, he was prohibited by Israeli forces from leaving Hebron at an Israeli checkpoint, detained and released only after being threatened for his courageous articles documenting Israeli crimes in the Weekly.
Surprisingly though, this time, Amayreh was not arrested by the Israelis, he was detained by the PSF; the PA police apparatus. This was the fourth time that Amayreh was arrested by the PSF. But this time why was he arrested? He was not in a demonstration, nor was he smuggling weapons to his fellow Palestinians being killed by Israelis on a daily basis.
His crime was explaining, during an interview with the Beirut based Al-Quds satellite TV, why there are only a few demonstrations in the West Bank in support of the people of Gaza. Amayreh frankly said that the PA did not allow such demonstrations. Amayreh did not mean to undermine the PA but he said, "the PA has certain commitments towards Israel and they (PA) do not want things to get out of their hands." Amayreh also said the Israelis do not respect the PA and view the PA as a kind of "servant" to Israeli interests.
For the PSF, this was defamation. Amayreh speaking to the Weekly immediately after his release, explained that he only spoke of how Palestinian officials were prevented from moving freely and how Israel added more checkpoints to try to cordon Palestinians in closed areas. In short, they did not like the tone of the interview.
"They interrogated me for six hours, then they locked me in a dark cell for two days, where I could not tell day from night."
"I think they released me because of the media and public pressure," Amayreh said. According to Amayreh, around 15 journalists have been arrested over the past few months and some of them are still in jail.
Amayreh, father of nine, was taken from his family home to the headquarters of the PSF in Hebron. His family were denied any access to him.
The International Society for Translators and Linguists issued a statement condemning his arrest and asking for his immediate release. "These police units do not represent anything for Palestine except murder, destruction, corruption and chaos," the statement said. "This apparatus is a disgrace to the history of the Palestinian Authority. Khaled Amayreh has helped the Palestinian cause much more than those people have," the statement added.
In the past three weeks, dozens of Hamas supporters have either been detained or summoned for investigation by the PA's much- feared Preventive Security Forces and General Intelligence Service. Coordination between the PA police forces and the Israeli occupation forces and Shin Beth has continued even as Gaza is being destroyed, in pursuit of their common goal of uprooting Hamas in the West Bank.
Five months ago, Amayreh was invited to attend a media conference in Germany and was granted a visa from the German representative office in Ramallah, the main stipulation being that he had never been arrested or detained by Israeli authorities. In spite of this, the Israeli military authorities refused to give him a permit to leave the West Bank and he was unable to travel. But be it the Israelis or the PA Security apparatus, it is evidently clear that Palestinians are continuously having their civil rights violated.