An Ohio college professor has been in an Israeli jail since being arrested on unspecified charges July 8, his family said Thursday.
Israeli officials confirmed that Ghazi Falah, 53, an Arab Israeli associate professor at the University of Akron’s geography and planning department, had been detained but declined to give specifics of his case.
Shahar Shelef, the Israeli consul in Philadelphia, said an Israeli judge’s gag order prohibited him from commenting on Falah’s arrest. Israeli law allows such orders in cases that affect national security, Shelef said, and people detained for this reason can be denied access to a lawyer for as long as 21 days.
Falah’s wife, Jamila, said in Wadsworth, Ohio, that her husband was arrested after taking photographs on a tourist beach near Nahariya and was taken to a jail in Haifa. She said he was given a hearing before a magistrate Sunday, but his attorney, Hussein Abu Hussein, was not allowed to enter the courtroom, to speak with Falah or to learn the charges against him.
Calls to the lawyer’s home in Israel and to his cellphone went unanswered Thursday.
Jamila Falah said the lawyer told her that her husband would have a follow-up hearing this Sunday.
Joe Stork said the Middle East Studies Assn. of North America’s Committee on Academic Freedom, which he chairs, was sending a letter to the Israeli government to ask whether Falah was being detained because of his academic writings, which have been criticized as having an anti-Israel bent.