Early in the morning of July 24, 2018, Israeli troops raided the house of Lama Khater, a Palestinian blogger and contributing opinion writer to several media outlets, in the southern West Bank city of Hebron and arrested her without informing her of any charges, according to news reports, the regional press freedom group SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom, and Khater’s daughter, Bessam al-Fakhouri, who posted photographs of Khater’s arrest on Twitter.
Khater is a contributing opinion writer for the Qatar-based broadcaster Al-Jazeera, the Hamas-affiliated Quds News Network, and the Arab online women’s publication Meem Magazine.
Al-Fakhouri told CPJ that around 1:30 a.m., "A large number of Israeli soldiers stormed into our house and informed my mother that she was under arrest. They seized her cell phone, laptop, and her external hard drive. They didn’t mention the charges against her, but she has been previously threatened by the Israeli and Palestinian intelligence services because of her work as a writer and political analyst. She was taken to an unknown destination, but she was later transferred to Ashkelon prison."
News reports and the local prisoner support group Palestinian Prisoner’s Club quoted Khater’s lawyer, Firas al-Sabah, as saying that the Israeli military court of Ashkelon on July 26 extended Khater’s detention for eight days to complete the investigation. Al-Sabah added, according to the same reports, that Khater was first taken from her home to the Kiryat Arba settlement and then transferred to Ashkelon, where she was subjected to intensive interrogation.
According to news reports, Khater is known for her criticism of both Israel and the Palestinian National Authority. On July 20, she published an op-ed in Meem Magazine criticizing Israel for allegedly trying to starve Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in retaliation for anti-Israel protests by partially closing the Karam Abu Salem border crossing in Gaza with the support of Egypt.
On the days prior to her arrest, Khater, who has 89,900 followers on Twitter and more than 41,800 on Facebook, wrote tweets criticizing Israel for denying Muslims entry to the Temple Mount complex in Jerusalem, which is a holy site for the three major monotheistic religions, and for responding to the burning kites sent by Palestinians protesters from Gaza into Israel with ballistic missiles.
According to news reports, the Ofer Military Court on July 30 rejected an appeal filed by the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club on behalf of Khater and extended her detention indefinitely for further questioning.
On August 27, Khater’s lawyer, Firas al-Sabah, was cited by news reports as saying that Khater had been was transferred from Ashkelon to Hasharon Prison after 34 days of questioning and her trial would be held on August 29.
On August 29, however, Khater’s detention was extended by the Ofer Military Court for a further eight days at the request of the prosecution, Khater’s husband, Hazem al-Fakhouri, posted on Facebook.
The Ofer Military Court on September 5 postponed Khater’s hearing until October 10, according to the regional press freedom group SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom and Khater’s husband. On October 10, the Israeli Supreme Court postponed her hearing until November 13, according to a Facebook post by Khater’s husband. Four days later, Khater was transferred to Damon, according to Khater’s husband. According to a Facebook post by Khater’s husband, Khater’s hearing was postponed until December 26, 2018.
Hazem al-Fakhouri told CPJ that no charges against Khater have been disclosed.
As of late 2018, the Israeli Defense Forces had not responded to CPJ’s email requesting comment.