In December 2014 Israeli forces arrested Imad Barghouthi, a Professor of Theoretical Space Plasma Physics at Al-Quds University, on his way to a meeting of the Arab Union of Astronomy and Space Sciences of which he is a founding member. He was held without charge under a three-month detention order but released nearly two months later after colleagues in the international scientific community publicised his arrest in the journal Nature ( Scientists protest detention of Palestinian physicist : Nature News & Comment) and elsewhere.

In April 2016 Israeli forces again arrested Professor Barghouthi, this time for six months before releasing him. Israeli military prosecutors charged him with “incitement”, a notoriously vague charge that criminalises activity such as, “praise, sympathy or support for a hostile organization” and “attempts, orally or otherwise, to influence public opinion in the [Occupied Territories] in a manner which may harm public peace or public order”. Israeli authorities frequently employ this charge to justify the arrest and detention of Palestinian journalists, activists and others. (See the Human Rights Watch report, ‘Born without Civil Rights: Israel’s Use of Draconian Military Orders to Repress Palestinians in the West Bank’, As on the first occasion, Professor Barghouthi’s “offence” was evidently to express on television or Facebook his opposition to Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank.

In July 2020, Israeli military forces once more detained Professor Barghouthi, holding him under administrative detention on account of his social media activity:  Six weeks later an Israeli judge granted him bail, whereupon an Israeli military official intervened to continue his detention until 15 November. Early in November a judge ordered his release from administrative detention, but once again the military renewed his detention for another six months. He was freed on 31 May 2021.

Three days ago, Professor Barghouti was arrested once again and held without charge. From all the evidence, these arrests are part and parcel of Israel’s longstanding policy of undermining the Palestinian education system. But the latest arrest comes at a time when Israel is detaining thousands more Palestinians, presumably to forestall even larger protests in the Occupied Palestinian Territory against the destruction of Gaza. As could be expected, the Western mainstream media devote their attention to the roughly 200 Israeli hostages in Gaza while ignoring the more than 6,500 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons.

The original of Scientists for Palestine’s report of Professor Barghouthi’s arrest, reproduced below, can be found here.

Professor Imad Barghouti arrested once again by the Israeli military

Professor Barghouti (third from the left) following his arrest

Early in the morning of October 23nd, Professor Imad Barghouti was arrested by the Israeli forces. Imad Barghouti is a professor of Physics at Al-Quds University beloved by his students, a father of five, one of the most internationally respected Palestinian astrophysicists and a very charismatic person who is relentlessly outspoken about the Israeli occupation. He belongs to no political party and has never engaged in any violence.

The family of Professor Barghouti reported how tens, if not hundreds of fully armed Israeli soldiers surrounded Imad’s house. Seven of them went by the door threatening him and his family that if he didn’t surrender they would demolish his house. They then took him. His family knows nothing about him and has no idea what will happen next. Professor Barghouti was not charged with any crime.

Professor Barghouti was arrested in 2020 and released after almost a year spent in prison, without any trial. We call upon the scientific community to ask for the release of Professor Barghouti, and for the release of all hostages, including all the over 200 Israelis held in captivity in Gaza, as well as several thousands Palestinian held with no charges in Israeli jails.