Israeli forces raided al-Khawaja’s home in the Ramallah al-Tahta area and searched the house for more than an hour and a half before detaining him.Clashes erupted during the raid, with Palestinian youths throwing stones and empty bottles at Israeli soldiers, who responded by heavily firing tear gas in the area.
The soldiers also fired tear gas canisters at neighboring homes, causing several families to suffer from excessive tear gas inhalation. Locals and Palestinian civil defense crews intervened on the scene to rescue and treat the families.
Al-Khawaja is a leader of the Palestinian National Initiative (PNI), a Palestinian political party aiming to provide an alternative to Fatah and Hamas, as well as an activist for the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements.PNI Secretary-General Mustafa al-Barghouthi condemned the detention of al-Khawaja, adding that Israeli detention raids and its suppression of Palestinian activists would not break the will and determination of the movement to continue its fight for the freedom of Palestinians.
An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed that a Palestinian was detained in Ramallah overnight, but did not have immediate information on the reasons behind al-Khawaja’s detention, nor on the clashes which occurred during the raid.
In the past year, Israel has detaining scores of Palestinian civilians and activists, many of whom Israeli authorities claims have been ‘inciting’ against Israel.
Palestinians have rejected accusations of incitement, instead pointing chiefly to the frustration and despair brought on by Israel’s nearly 50-year military occupation of the Palestinian territory and the absence of a political horizon.Prisoners rights group Addameer reported that 7,000 Palestinians were held in Israeli prisons as of August.