The Palestinian inmate, whose identity is still unknown, was arrested in 2012 by the PA security forces for his involvement in the sale of land to Jews.
A Palestinian prisoner who was accused of selling land to Jews died in a hospital run by the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Ramallah.
A PA court had sentenced the man to ten years in prison for his involvement in real estate transactions “with the enemy,” PA police spokesman Luay Zreikat said. The prisoner, whose identity was not released, was arrested in 2012 by PA security forces on charges of involvement in the sale of land to Jews. According to Zreikat, the prisoner had also been accused of “forging official documents.”
Two weeks ago, the prisoner was transferred from his prison cell to a hospital in Ramallah.
He was pronounced dead on Sunday.
Zreikat said it was not immediately clear whether the prisoner died of natural causes or as a result of physical harm. The PA Police and Prosecutor-General Office have launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the inmate’s death.
PA laws prohibit Palestinians from selling Palestinian-owned lands to “any man or judicial body of Israeli citizenship.” The laws, originally enacted during the Jordanian rule of the West Bank (1948-1967), are sometimes used by the PA to punish Palestinians suspected of selling land and houses to Jews.
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Further, Palestinian religious authorities and political activists have repeatedly warned Palestinians against land sales to Jews. Several fatwas (religious decrees) issued by the Palestinian Mufti of Jerusalem in the past four decades have warned that any Palestinian involved in real estate sanctions with Jews would be considered a “traitor” and “infidel.”
Dozens of Palestinians have been arrested by the PA since its inception in 1993 on suspicion of selling land and houses to Jews, and many of the suspects have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms after conviction.
Several Palestinians have been kidnapped and murdered after they were accused of selling lands and homes to Jews, particularly in east Jerusalem and the West Bank.
In 2014, PA President Mahmoud Abbas issued an executive order that amended the land law penal code and increased punishments for selling land to “hostile countries and their citizens.” Abbas’s gesture came after reports claimed that Arab residents of Jerusalem had sold houses to Jews in the village of Silwan.
Late last year, a PA court in Ramallah sentenced a Palestinian-American to life in prison with hard labor after finding him guilty of selling a house in the Old City of Jerusalem to a Jewish Israeli organization. The man, Issam Akel, a resident of east Jerusalem, was arrested by PA security forces in October 2018. The court found Akel guilty of “attempting to cut off a part of the Palestinian land in order to add it to a foreign country [Israel].” Akel was released a few weeks later, after the PA came under pressure from the US administration.
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