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Israel extends Palestinian-Israeli parliamentarian's arrest by six days Open in fullscreen

Robert Cusack

Israel extends Palestinian-Israeli parliamentarian's arrest by six days

Basel Ghattas at the Rishon LeZion magistrates court on December 23 [AFP]

Date of publication: 23 December, 2016

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The magistrates court heard that releasing the Knesset member would, in some way, harm public security and potentially jeopardise the police's investigation.

MK Basel Ghattas, a Palestinian-Israeli Member of the Knesset had his arrest extended by six days by the magistrates court in Rishon LeZion on Friday.

Ghattas, who is currently under arrest for allegedly smuggling mobile phones to Palestinian prisoners, will remain in custody until Monday while the police complete their investigation.

"There's a basis to the suspicion that releasing Ghattas may pose a threat to public safety by interfering with the [police] investigation," said Judge Menahem Mizrahi.

Ghattas' lawyer, Leah Tsemel, disagreed with the police's submission, asking why he had not been searched before entering the prison or refused entrance.

Ghattas has routinely defended his innocence, describing his arrest as political persecution. As a member of the Palestinian-Israeli party, Balad, he has frequently fought with the Israeli government.

Ghattas has routinely defended his innocence, describing his arrest as political persecution.

"We are used to these kinds of investigations and attempts to criminalise, which are designed to de-legitimise our work," Ghattas said.

Prison officers claim that Ghattas handed out mobile phones to Palestinian prisoners who were convicted of killing Israelis as part of the latest Intifada [uprising].

Following a visit Ghattas made to a prison, guards discovered twelve mobile phones in prisoners' cells.

Since Ghattas' arrest, the Knesset issued an order on Tuesday, banning any Knesset member from visiting prisoners jailed on terrorism or security charges.

The minister for Public Security, Gilad Erdan, said that if found guilty, Ghattas deserved a prison sentence for his alleged actions.

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