Rights Group Calls on Israel to Immediately Release Palestinian UN Worker

UN employee and human rights activist, Shireen Al-Araj. (Photo: File)

The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor today expressed its grave concern over the Israeli authorities’ arrest of a UN Palestinian employee in Jerusalem, calling for her immediate and unconditional release.

The Israeli authorities arrested UN employee and human rights activist, Shireen Al-Araj, on January 25, in front of the Magistrate’s Court in Jerusalem. She was summoned to an interrogation on charges of “contacting with foreign clients and persons.”

Al-Araj, who holds an Israeli ID in addition to a UN diplomatic passport, had returned to the Palestinian territories after an Israeli ban that lasted for five years. Her lawyer had contacted her informing her that she has to return to the Palestinian territories to renew her residency papers or she will lose her residency and become a “refugee”, which will deny her entry into the Palestinian territories again.

On January 24, at the border between Jordan and the Palestinian territories, Al-Araj was interrogated upon her arrival, where she was ordered to go to the Magistrate’s Court in Jerusalem the next day for further investigation by the Israeli police.

As she arrived at the court, Israeli intelligence agents stopped Al-Araj near the court door, took her to her home, and confiscated her computers and mobile phones. After that, she was taken to Petah Tikva prison in central Israel. The Israeli authorities prevented her lawyer and an Israeli lawyer appointed by the UN from meeting her or even being with her during the interrogation.

Al-Araj has been working with the UN in several organizations and programs, including the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA), the United Nations Population Fund and the Office of the High Commissioner in Turkey.

Israel restricts the work of UN workers in the Palestinian territories, despite the UN’s coordination with the Israeli authorities. The Israeli authorities also follow a strict policy with local and international human rights defenders and impose significant restrictions on granting them entry visas to Israel or accessing the Palestinian territories.

(WAFA, PC, Social Media)

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