22-year-old Palestinian Majd Atwan, daughter to Nidal and Yousef Atwan, recently was arrested in Bethlehem, occupied West Bank. She was sentenced to 45 days in Prison along with a fine of 3,000 shekels. Her charge? Inflammatory comments on Facebook.
“It was two o’clock in the morning. If you saw the number of military jeeps, you’d think Osama bin Laden was in the neighbourhood,” Yousef recollected.
Nidal Atwan poses with a poster of her daughter just after her arrest.
When military police kicked down their door last month, Majd’s mother, Nidal, states that she initially thought they had intended to detain her 16-year-old son, Mohammed Atwan. Much to her surprise, they instead arrested her daughter, Majd, a passionate beautician, who prefers bold hair dye and manicures to bomb vests and rifles.
Nidal demanded to see a warrant, to which the commander obliged by presenting to her a fresh warrant alleging that Majd was wanted for incitement charges regarding social media.
Before the arrest, Majd’s parents admitted that they were aware of their daughter’s online activities, but not alarmed by them.
Her parents were shocked to discover that her social media presence led her to a series of interrogations at Jerusalem’s Russian Compound, a facility notorious for inhumane practices and human rights violations.
“My daughter is not politically active; rather, her involvements are in beauty…” Majd’s father expanded, “Did she write stuff online? Yeah, like all other Palestinians. I really don’t understand why they chose to arrest her.”
Tareq Barghouti, Majd’s lawyer, claims that the Israeli military had been monitoring his client for two months before making the arrest. Tareq stated that a year ago, these charges would have been unheard of, explaining further that, “it has become a common thing these days, and there has been a wave of arrests on these Facebook posts.” This is telling of the increasing tyranny of the occupation and the continued constant desecration of freedom for the Palestinian people.
According to the prisoners’ human rights group, Addameer, Majd is one of 150 Palesinians detained by Israeli forces for “incitement” on social media. This is an extreme increase in comparison to the 13 recorded cases documented in 2014. Of those arrested in the past year, the majority were held in ‘administrative detention‘ for 3 months without charge. The maximum sentence for social media incitement is 10 years.
A confirmed 59 Palestinians have been found guilty making provocative statements online, according to a spokesman for the Israeli army.
Majd Atwan is one of 7,000 Palestinians currently held in Israeli prisons. Over 700 of them are being held without a charge or trial.