Saudi Arabia’s jailing of Palestinians slammed

August 10, 2021 - 10:1

Saudi Arabia’s sentencing of Palestinians residing in the Kingdom has been met with anger by Gaza based resistance groups. The Hamas political party says the rulings by a Saudi court was aimed at pleasing Israel.

A high-ranking Hamas official says the Palestinians sentenced have not committed any crime in the Kingdom. Mahmoud al-Zahar added that the trial of the prisoners was not a legal matter, saying the issue was one of a political nature. 

The Gaza-based Islamic Jihad movement also condemned the Saudi court’s verdicts, saying the detainees are being jailed simply because of their support for the resistance of the Palestinian nation.

Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad labelled the court verdicts as cruel that contradict Arab values of defending the oppressed Palestinians. 

The Palestine Shehab news agency says a Saudi court issued verdicts against 69 Palestinians with sentences ranging from 3-22 years over alleged support for the Palestinian resistance. During a mass trial, Riyadh sentenced the Palestinians as well as Jordanian activists supporting the Palestinian struggle against Israel. 

Among those handed a prison sentence was 82-year-old Mohammed al-Khudari, a prominent figure and former Hamas representative in Saudi Arabia; who is now looking at 15 years behind bars. The son of al-Khudari has also been reportedly sentenced to three years. 

In October 2020, human rights group, Amnesty International, condemned the detention saying that Mohammed al-Khudari and his son Hani had been detained for over a year in Saudi Arabia and denied access to a lawyer. 

Since the beginning of 2019, Saudi security forces began to round up scores of academics, students, and businessmen; who went on to face trials at a Specialized Criminal Court. Many of them had been residing in the Kingdom for decades. 

A Hamas official says the detainees have been subjected to torture and cruel interrogation methods.

In March 2020, Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh, sent a letter to the Saudi King demanding the release of the Palestinian detainees. The letter noted "amid the coronavirus pandemic that is sweeping the world, out of fear for the lives of the honourable brothers… the release of Palestinians becomes a humanitarian and national necessity, and we are all sure that His Majesty will not hesitate to do it" 

However, the call fell on death ears. 

Hamas and Islamic Jihad have now once again called on the Saudi monarchy to immediately release the prisoners. 

Saudi authorities have declined to comment on the verdicts. 

Reports suggest the mass arrest campaign was part of a widely secretive and sensitive matter revolving around the warming of ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel. 

Hamas is widely viewed in the Islamic world and beyond as a legitimate resistance movement against Israel's occupation of Palestine.

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