Dozens of Palestinians face terrorism court in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia has put dozens of Palestinian activists on trial, accusing them of supporting the Gaza-based rulers Hamas. According to Arabic press reports, 68 Palestinian and Jordanian citizens faced the “special terrorism court” in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, beginning on Sunday.
Families of the accused said their relatives were being prosecuted without legal representation. The detainees were arrested by Saudi secret police in April of last year.
Among those arrested was Mohammed al-Khudari, 81, a long time Palestinian resident of Saudi Arabia and a retired physician suffering from colon cancer, according to his family who spoke by phone from Gaza.
Al-Khadari’s son, Hani – an IT professor at a Saudi university with no apparent political activities – was also detained.
Abdul Majed, Mohammed al-Khudari’s brother, told Al Jazeera both relatives were placed in solitary confinement for seven months. He said the next court date would be May 5.
“The arrests of these two Palestinian nationals is part of a wider crackdown by the Saudi Arabian authorities on Palestinians residing in Saudi Arabia with a perceived link to Hamas de facto authorities,” according to a statement by Amnesty International.
“Since February 2019, the Saudi authorities have detained approximately 60 Palestinians visiting or residing in Saudi Arabia, including students, academics, and businessmen.”
Al-Khudari was Hamas official representative in the kingdom for decades before the recent change in Saudi leadership, which saw the historically pro-Palestinian government become closer to Israel.
Hamas is generally viewed in the Arab world as a legitimate resistance movement against the Israeli occupation of Palestinians lands.
According to regional analysts, the Saudi shift towards Israel could be understood within the framework of the changing of the guard within the kingdom’s leadership.
The 84-year-old King Salman’s ascension to the throne in 2015 ushered in the rise of his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), 34, to power.
Source: Al Jazeera