Palestinian circus performer's three month imprisonment by Israel continues

Palestinian circus performer's three month imprisonment by Israel continues
After three months in an Israeli jail without trial, Amnesty international have appealed for help to a free Palestinian circus performer.
2 min read
05 March, 2016
Palestinian Circus School is known for entertaining the public in the occupied West Bank [AFP]

Amnesty International and Palestinian cultural institutions have launched an appeal to help a 23-year-old Palestinian circus performer and teacher held by Israel for nearly three months without trial.

Mohammed Abu Sakha was arrested on 14 December in the occupied West Bank, and held since January in administrative detention

This controversial measure allows Israel to hold suspects without trial for periods of six months and renewable indefinitely.

Amnesty said Israel believes Abu Sakha is a member of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which is considered a militant movement by Israel.

The Israeli army did not immediatly comment on the reasons behind Abu Sakha's detention.

The Palestinian Performing Arts Network (PPAN), representing artists and cultural institutions, said it was "deeply concerned" over the detention of Abu Sakha, who since 2008 has been part of the Palestinian Circus School in Bir Zeit, first as a student and later as a clown and teacher.

PPAN called on artists and cultural organisations "to raise awareness of Israel's illegal policy of administrative detention" and pressure Israel to release Abu Sakha.

Amnesty called to pressure Israel ahead of a military court hearing of Abu Sakha's appeal against his detention, scheduled for 21 March.

Abu Sakha's mother was allowed to visit him once in the Megiddo prison in northern Israel, where he was entertaining his fellow inmates to help the time pass, Amnesty said.

Administrative detention is intended to allow authorities to hold suspects while continuing to gather evidence, with the aim of preventing further attacks in the meantime.

The system has been criticised by Palestinians, human rights groups and the international community.

More than 7,000 Palestinians are currently in Israeli jails, of whom approximately 10 percent are being held without trial, according to Palestinian rights groups.

One Israeli Jew has been held under the measure for seven months on suspicion of being a leader of a group of extremists targeting Palestinians and Christians in hate crimes.