Israeli authorities arrested Harb, West Bank director of the Gaza-based Falastin, at his home in the northern West Bank town of Isskaka, the daily newspaper reported.
After visiting Harb in Jalama interrogation center in April, his lawyer, Mohammed Abed, said that Israeli authorities had accused his client of supporting Hamas and facilitating the transfer of money to the West Bank, Falastin reported. Abed said Harb confessed to the charges, fearing he would otherwise be held in administrative detention. 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.
Harb’s family told Falastin that he had spent about 18 years in prison, most of it under administrative detention. In May 2007, Harb was arrested and held in administrative detention for what an Israeli judge called his “recent propensity for military activity.” At the time, the paper’s editor, Mustafa al-Sawaf, said his work for the paper led to his arrest. His lawyer, Tamar Pelleg, also said he had been accused of being a prominent leader of Hamas. Harb did not deny knowing Hamas members but said his ties to them were purely social.
Harb was briefly released in 2011 before being arrested and put in administrative detention again, according to Falastin. He was released in late 2012.
Falastin is a daily that has published news on Palestine and Israel. It was licensed in 2006, and published its first issue in 2007.
In an interview with Falastin this year, Harb’s mother said, “I am confident my son is arrested only for his profession and his journalistic writing, nothing more and nothing less.” It is not clear how Harb continues to work for the paper while he has remained in detention for so many years. While in prison, he has published several books and novels dealing with the themes of religion and resistance to Israeli policies.
In August 2013, the Salem military court delayed Harb’s trial by two months, the Center for Palestinian Prisoner Studies reported. He is currently being held in Megiddo prison, his family said.
Falastin did not respond to repeated requests for comment.