Jailed officer says 777 PA employees held by Israel

12:00 Nov 30 2011 West Bank

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Palestinian Authority Brigadier General Maysara Abu Hamdiyya is urging the PA to raise the issue of the 777 PA employees and security officers in Israeli custody.

Abu Hamdiyya, serving a life sentence in Israeli jail since 2002, sent a letter Friday to the PA ministry of prisoners affairs. The letter says most of these detainees were seized in incursions in 2002, many while on duty.

Many of the security officers, added Abu Hamdiyya, were detained in their military uniforms, and thus they should be treated as prisoners of war. He called on the Israeli government to release all PA officers.

He also appealed to the president, Mahmoud Abbas, "for immediate intervention to get those prisoners freed." He says they were illegally detained and convicted. The detention of PA officers, he said, was a direct violation by Israel of the agreements signed between the Israeli government and the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Abu Hamdiyya, a brigadier general in the PA’s preventive security service, was first sentenced to 25 years, but the Israeli military prosecution appealed the sentence and he was given a life sentence.

In the 1960s and 1970s Abu Hamdiyya was detained several times in Israel before he was deported to Jordan in 1979. He returned to Palestine after the Oslo agreement was signed between Israel and the PLO.

In June 2011, Abu Hamdiyya and two other inmates Atif Wireidat and Yousif Iskafi went on hunger strike for about 20 days protesting poor conditions in custody.
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