Police Detain Wife of Arrested Palestinian Lawyer

Palestinian and Israeli attorneys say arrest intended to put pressure on her husband's investigation and have gone on strike in protest of the move

Amira Hass
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FILE Photo: Ofer prison.
FILE Photo: Ofer prison. Credit: Meged Gozani
Amira Hass

The police on arrested Tuesday Amal Barghout, the wife of an attorney arrested in Ramallah last week alongside Zekariya Zubeidi, a senior figure in the Palestinian Prisoners’ Ministry, formerly of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a Fatah-linked militant group.

The IDF Spokesperson’s office and the Shin Bet say attorney Tarek Barghout and Zbeidi are suspected of recent involvement in terrorist activity.  

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Palestinian and Israeli attorneys believe the arrest of Barghout’s wife in East Jerusalem was intended to put pressure on him during questioning, and they have filed a request at the military court in Ofer for her unconditional release.

An Israeli military source confirmed to Haaretz that Barghout was arrested as part of her husband’s investigation. Attorneys went on strike in protest against her arrest, refusing to participate in any sessions held at the Ofer and Salam military courts.

Military court official Brig. Gen. Rani Amar ordered police to respond to the request for the woman’s release by noon, but police said she had not yet been questioned. Amar said that reply was lacking and ordered a session held on the request for her release on Wednesday morning.

Attorney Munzir Abu Ahmed, who has signed the request to release Barghout, has appealed the decision to hold a session on her request for release on Wednesday morning, asking that the session be held immediately. His appeal was upheld and the hearing was rescheduled for Tuesday evening.

Tarek Barghout has been questioned by the Shin Bet and has been denied a lawyer’s visit. As far as can be ascertained, he is maintaining the right to silence.

Zekariya Zubeidi who was arrested on February 27, 2019.
Zekariya Zubeidi who was arrested on February 27, 2019. Credit: Daniel Bar-On

Abu Ahmed, in his request to release Barghout’s wife, accused the police of “exploiting the weakness of attorney Tarek Barghout who is being held in difficult conditions. He is being put under inhumane pressure to get him to say things he has not done.”

Abu Ahmed said further that Barghout had been present at the request to extend her husband’s detention on Sunday. Had there been a need to question her she could have been summoned rather than being humiliated by going to arrest her at her home.

Gaby Lasky, an Israeli attorney also involved in the efforts to free Barghout, told Haaretz that “had there been any suspicions against her from the start, Amal Barghout would have been arrested along with her husband.”

Zubeidi’s arrest has surprised the residents of Jenin, who say he has focused on politics as a member of Fatah’s revolutionary council in recent year and has held the senior position in the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society. Sources there told Haaretz that Zbeidi also held the society’s director-general’s post and that most of his work was on behalf of prisoners and their families.

During the second intifada some two decades ago Zubeidi was considered one of the most wanted militants in the West Bank. During clashes with the Israel Defense Forces some years ago, he lost his brother and mother, and his home in Jenin was demolished.

Barghout, who also works at the prisoner affairs ministry, represented many prisoners jailed for security-related offenses. In the past he has been arrested for online incitement for some of his Facebook posts.

Barghout has represented numerous Palestinian political prisoners, including the 17-year-old teen who killed Ari Fuld in a mall the West Bank in September, a 13-year-old teen suspected of a stabbing attack in Jerusalem, and a man involved in the killing of Eliav Gelman in a West Bank intersection, who was later acquitted of murder in Israeli Military Court.

Jacky Khoury contributed to this report.