"How is this not hostage-taking?" asked journalist Mehdi Hasan. "How is this not a violation of basic liberties? How are American taxpayers okay paying for this? Any response, Secretary Blinken?"
A young Palestinian human rights lawyer has been jailed by Israel for nearly a month without charge or trial after starting a group that trains female attorneys on how to visit the unprecedented number of Palestinians held in an Israeli prison in the illegally occupied West Bank.
Diala Ayesh, 28, was arrested on January 17 by Israeli occupation forces at a checkpoint near Bethlehem, according to the rights group Front Line Defenders. Another group, the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, said that on January 25 Israeli authorities "issued an arbitrary administrative detention order" for Ayesh through May 16.
Addameer said that Ayesh "was subjected to assault, threats, and insults by occupation soldiers during her arrest." She was initially jailed in Hasharon Prison in Even Yehuda "in a cell of very poor conditions with an open window despite the cold weather" before being transferred to Damon Prison in northern Israel.
As Israeli authorities began arresting and jailing thousands of Palestinians in the wake of the Hamas-led October 7 attack on Israel, Ayesh started a volunteer group that trains female lawyers on how to visit Palestinian prisoners and monitor their treatment by occupation forces. Palestinians from both Gaza and the West Bank have died in Israeli prisons since October 7, with some of the victims showing signs of torture and other abuse.
Front Line Defenders said Ayesh "has dedicated her work to advocating for the freedom and fair treatment of Palestinian political prisoners, focusing on ensuring fair trial guarantees and promoting freedom of expression."
"Additionally, she has actively engaged in monitoring and documenting the conditions of Palestinian political prisoners within the Israeli military prison system," the group added.
Ayesh formerly worked at Lawyers for Justice, a group that provides free legal aid and monitors human rights abuses by Palestinian authorities in the occupied territories. For this, she
said she was detained, beaten, and sexually assaulted by her own people.
Addameer attorney Tala Nasser
told Al Jazeera on Tuesday that that Ayesh's imprisonment is part of a "violent mass arrest campaign" in which more than 7,000 Palestinians have been jailed, most of under Israel's regime of administrative detention.
"This campaign includes activists, human rights defenders, and political leaders," said Nasser, who called the arrests "an attempt to silence them and prevent the exposure of the occupation's crimes across the whole country."
Men, women, and even children are jailed under this form of arbitrary indefinite detention without charge or trial that has been condemned by Palestinian, Israeli, and international human rights groups.
The International Observatory of Lawyers, an initiative of several European bar associations, said that Ayesh is one of at least 10 Palestinian lawyers being held under Israeli administrative detention.
"The observatory strongly condemnsthe arrest and unlawful detention of the lawyer Diala Ayesh, as well as the terrible conditions of detention to which she has been subjected," the group said in a statement last week urging Israeli authorities to "immediately and unconditionally release" all jailed attorneys.