Israel holds Palestinian journalist for Al Jazeera

Israel has arrested the head of Al Jazeera`s Afghan bureau after he visited the occupied West Bank.

Jerusalem: Israel has arrested the Palestinian head of Al Jazeera`s Afghanistan bureau after he visited the occupied West Bank, charging him with belonging to Hamas, the satellite station said Tuesday.

It called for the immediate release of Samer Allawi, who had been remanded by an Israeli military court a week after being taken into custody while trying to cross from the West Bank into Jordan. He had been visiting family in the Palestinian city of Nablus.

An Israeli security official confirmed Allawi`s arrest and court appearance but gave no further details on the case.

Walied Al-Omary, Al Jazeera`s bureau chief in Israel and the Palestinian territories, said the military court accused Allawi of making contact with members of Hamas`s armed wing.

In Al Jazeera video footage from his court appearance, Allawi said: "There is nothing in this investigation that I believe harms Israel, like it is being claimed, or has any relationship with my work in this entire region."

Islamist Hamas won a Palestinian election in 2006 and, a year later, took over the Gaza Strip in a brief civil war with the formerly dominant and more secular Fatah faction.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah holds sway in the West Bank, where his forces, along with the Israeli military, have curbed Hamas.

Bureau Report

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