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American citizen Samaher Esmail arrested by IDF in West Bank


The arrest this week of an American woman in the West Bank by the Israel Defense Forces has prompted an outcry in the United States.

Samaher Esmail was arrested Monday for “incitement on social media” during an operation in the Silwad village area, the IDF told The Washington Post on Wednesday.

“Suspects arrested in the operation were transferred to the security forces for further questioning,” the IDF said, without providing more information about Esmail’s alleged social media activity.

Rep. Troy A. Carter (D-La.) said he was “extremely concerned” about the detention of Esmail, a resident of Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District.

“I have been in contact with the American Embassy and the State Department to inquire why a U.S. citizen is being held. I am praying for her safety,” he said Tuesday in a social media post.

An American teen was killed in the West Bank. His family wants answers.

On Wednesday, the State Department told The Post that it was seeking additional information and was aware of the reported detention of a U.S. citizen in the West Bank. It declined to share more information, citing privacy considerations.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations said in a statement Wednesday that it had written to the State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem requesting that they demand Esmail’s immediate release.

“As an American citizen, Samaher Esmail deserves the full protection and support of her government,” the civil rights group said.

Esmail’s family told the Associated Press that Israeli forces broke into the 46-year-old’s home in the West Bank on Monday and pulled her out of bed. On Wednesday, they said they remain unaware of her whereabouts. The Post could not immediately confirm the circumstances of Esmail’s arrest.

As settler violence surges, West Bank Palestinians fear new displacement

While the toll of Israel’s military operation in Gaza has captured global attention, Israel has also stepped up military activity in the West Bank, including a raid at a hospital last month by Israeli security forces disguised as medics and patients. Settler violence in the area has also risen at an unprecedented rate since Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

Tawfic Abdel Jabbar, a 17-year-old U.S. citizen also from Louisiana, was fatally shot in the head in the West Bank in January. In a statement that shed little light on the circumstances surrounding his death, Israeli police said an off-duty law enforcement officer, a soldier and an Israeli settler had all been involved in a “firearm discharge … directed towards a perceived threat.”

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