Jordan arrests activist Khaled al-Natour for protests in support of Gaza, BDS

Jordan arrests activist Khaled al-Natour for protests in support of Gaza, BDS
Khaled al-Natour, an activist, was arrested yesterday in connection with his pro-Palestine activities.
2 min read
09 February, 2024
Human Rights Watch revealed on Tuesday that the Jordanian government had likely arrested hundreds of pro-Palestine protesters over their activism. [Getty]

An activist, Khaled al-Natour, was arrested by Jordanian authorities on Thursday after sharing posts calling for the lifting of the siege on Gaza amidst a more significant crackdown on pro-Palestine activists by the Jordanian government.

Al-Natour was arrested under a controversial new cybercrime law for his posts in support of Gaza, Hamzeh, a member of Jordan's BDS movement, told The New Arab.

Rights groups say the cybercrime law, passed in August, gives the government wide latitude to crack down on free speech. 

"We have a problem as a movement of facing a law with wide, vague charges. These charges could have been levelled at anyone. Today, it is Khaled, tomorrow it could be anyone," Khader said.

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A spokesperson for the Jordan Public Security Directorate did not respond to a request for comment on al-Natour's arrest by the time of publishing. 

His arrest comes after the Jordanian government has "arrested or harassed" likely hundreds of pro-Palestine protesters since October, as revealed by Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Tuesday.

"Jordanian authorities are trampling the right to free expression and assembly to tamp down Gaza-related activism," said Lama Fakih, Middle East director at HRW.

Jordan's population is overwhelmingly pro-Palestine and has called on the government to take stronger actions against Israel for its military operation in Gaza, which has killed nearly 28,000 since 7 October. 

On Friday, a demonstration was held to protest what local activists were calling Jordan's provision of a "shameful land bridge" to help Israel circumvent the shipping blockade imposed on it by the Houthis in the Red Sea.

Jordan has faced protests after recent reports aired on Israeli television revealing that the UAE is transporting goods to Israel over land via Jordan.

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The Jordanian government has denied the claims of the report, but footage showing trucks from the UAE arriving in Israel via Jordan's land crossing once again sparked anger among Jordanians.

The Houthi blockade of Israel has contributed to a sharp drop in Israel's received shipments, with the head of Israel's Eliat port saying it has seen an 85 per cent drop in shipping activity.

The Houthis have said that their targeting of ships headed for Israel is meant to be in solidarity with the people of Gaza, though human rights organisations condemned their targeting of civilian vessels.

Rights groups say that Jordan's government has steadily increased repression of civil society and activism over the last six years, contributing to declining freedoms in the country.