Al-Khatib, a cameraman for the Hamas-run Al-Aqsa TV, was arrested at an Israeli checkpoint south of Nablus as he was driving from his home in Ramallah to his family home in Tulkaram, according to Al-Aqsa and other news reports.
He is being held in administrative detention, where he has been interrogated about his work for Al-Aqsa TV, the reports said. Under administrative detention procedures, authorities may hold detainees for six months without charge or trial and then extend the detention an unlimited number of times. No official charges have been filed against him.
Al-Khatib’s arrest came as authorities cracked down on Hamas leaders and institutions in the West Bank. Hundreds of Palestinians were arrested in the sweep, called Operation Brother’s Keeper, as part of Israel’s attempt to find three Israeli teenagers kidnapped on June 12. The Israelis’ bodies were discovered on June 30, according to news reports.
Israeli officials have previously said that journalists working for Al-Aqsa cannot be considered legitimate because of the station’s relationship with Hamas, which the Israeli government considers a terrorist group. In June, Israeli security forces raided two Palestinian media companies it claimed provided services to Hamas-affiliated outlets, including Al-Aqsa TV, according to the international rights organization Human Rights Watch and news reports. In the West Bank, Al-Aqsa’s West Bank director Aziz Kayed and correspondent Mustafa al-Khawaja were also arrested this year. Both remain in prison. Al-Aqsa TV facilities were targeted by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, part of the 50-day war that resulted from overflowing tensions in the aftermath of the murder of the three teenagers, the murder of a 17-year-old Palestinian, and escalating retaliatory violence committed by all sides, according to news reports.
CPJ believes al-Khatib, Kayed, and al-Khawaja were arrested in relation to their newsgathering for al-Aqsa TV, which has also broadcast anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli propaganda, including calls for violence.
Al-Khatib’s family has strong affiliations with Hamas. His father, Fathi al-Khatib, is serving 29 life sentences for his role in the 2002 suicide bombing of the Park Hotel in Netanya that killed 30 people and injured more than 100 others, according to news reports. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack, one of the deadliest during the Second Intifada.