Israel’s Shin Bet security service on Monday accused a Palestinian journalist arrested on the weekend of belonging to a “terror group” after colleagues called for international support for his release.
Omar Nazzal, a member of the general secretariat of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS), was detained by Israeli officials on Saturday at the border between the occupied West Bank and Jordan.
He was seeking to travel to a meeting of the European Federation of Journalists in Bosnia.
The Shin Bet service said in response to an AFP query that he had been recently appointed a director of Palestine Today, a TV channel it declared illegal in February, and was active in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine -- a leftist political party Israel accuses of terrorism.
“Omar has for years been known to be a Popular Front activist -- he was arrested now because of his involvement in current Popular Front activities,” Shin Bet said in a written reply.
It said he was not detained because of his journalism but over “his involvement in terror group activities”.
The PJS called on Sunday for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to intervene in Nazzal’s case.
Union officials met an ICRC representative Sunday in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, as journalists held a sit-in protest over the arrest.
“We explained to the ICRC that it was imperative to quickly visit Omar Nazzal,” Musa al Sher, general secretariat member, told AFP.
The ICRC is the only international organisation allowed to visit Palestinians held by the Israeli authorities.
Nazzal’s wife told AFP she did not know where he is being held.
“I have no idea of his fate since he told me by phone on Saturday that he was arrested by Israel,” she said.
The Palestine Today offices in Ramallah were raided in March by soldiers after Israel accused it of incitement.
The Palestinian information ministry on Sunday again accused Israel of targeting Palestinian journalists, sating that several local radio stations had also been raided in recent months.
In March, the International Federation of Journalists said it was “very concerned” by a wave of arrests of Palestinian journalists.