Ala’a Miqbel

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Ala'a Miqbel (c. 1983-) is (2013) the director of the Palestinian Youth Association for Leadership And Rights Activation

Richard Silverstein reports (23 August 2013):

A few days ago, the media reported that a Gaza youth leader, Alaa Miqbel, was headed to a U.S. State Department-hosted conference in Ramallah. The event was designed to inform Palestinians NGOs how to promote technology and communication of their mission to the public. It was part of a stale U.S. diplomatic initiative meant to show that Palestinians could be empowered economically, even if not politically.

Miqbel, director of the Gaza office of the Palestinian youth organization, Pyalara, had his invitation with him and was directed by U.S. diplomats to the Erez crossing where he'd received a permit from Israeli authorities that would allow him to travel to the West Bank. When he arrived, instead of getting his permit and being on his way to the prestigious conference, Miqbel was arrested and thrown in an Israeli prison. The Shin Bet announced they'd caught a dangerous Palestsinian terrorist red-handed. Miqbel, if Israeli security geniuses could be believed was a member of the banned militant Islamic Jihad.

The only problem was that Miqbel was not the person the Shin Bet thought he was: not a member of Islamic Jihad, not a militant. The Israeli security cops never bothered to ask why a wanted militant would travel to an Israeli crossing and apply for an Israeli travel permit. They didn't stop to wonder how the U.S. government would invite a known terrorist to an NGO technology conference in Palestine. In fact, the U.S. consulate had done its own security screening of conference participants. Apparently, U.S. security leaves Israeli in the dust. The former cleared Miqbel for participation, while the latter couldn't find its way out of a paper bag.

Until now, this story seemed at most a typically embarrassing snafu, perhaps a deliberate provocation by the Israeli security services, a bit of spit in the eye directed towards Obama's efforts to renew the peace talks. But an Israeli source tells me that the arrest was a security fashlah (error) on the part of the Shin Bet, which staffs the crossings. They arrested the wrong man.

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