Palestinian Authority Arrests Activist Over Online Criticism

Palestinian authority arrests activists over online criticism. Jerusalem-Palestinian authorities arrested the prominent activist and held him overnight after accusing him of criticizing the policy and arresting other individuals for political reasons in a series of online posts.

The PA, which restricts autonomy in parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, has come under fierce criticism in recent weeks after canceling its first elections in 15 years and was largely excluded from the 11-day war in Gaza last month.

Issa Amro, an outspoken critic of both Israel and the PA arrested in the past, said he was summoned for interrogation by the PA’s cybercrime department late Monday.

He said he had been asked about a Facebook post protesting the arrest of a man associated with the political rival of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. In the post, he said that PAs should instead arrest “corrupt” people within their ranks.

Amro told the Associated Press that he was arrested shortly thereafter and locked in a “very dirty place not suitable for humans” overnight. He appeared before prosecutors on Tuesday before his release, and he ordered him to return on Wednesday, where he could be charged.

Palestinian officials declined to comment on the incident.

Palestinian authorities face a legitimacy crisis after canceling the April elections that looked like Abbas’ Fatah party would face an embarrassing defeat. Rivals of the Islamic militant group Hamas have seen a surge in popularity after the Gaza War.

PAs have become increasingly authoritarian and unpopular in recent years. However, it is still internationally recognized as a partner in the rebuilding of Gaza, which has not been authoritative since Hamas came to power in 2007, eventually reviving a long-standing peace process.

On Tuesday, the European Union agreed to provide $425 million in loans to PA and Palestinian banks to help them weather the economic crisis aggravated by the coronavirus pandemic.

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