Palestinian Convert Back in PA Custody, Report Says

A Chevron Arab who became a ger tzeddek in the beis din of Harav Nissim Karelitz, z”tl, and underwent two months of torture at the hands of the Palestinian Authority before being released is back in PA custody – this time under the control of Hamas terrorists, Kol Chai radio reported.

The saga of Samah Zeitun, 60, began several years ago, when he became interested in Judaism. He had been working in a market in Yerushalayim when he decided to make the move, converting around Rosh Hashanah after lengthy studies at a yeshivah in Yerushalayim. Upon conversion, he took the name David Ben-Avraham.

On Erev Yom Kippur he met with his family, all of whom remain Muslim. At that meeting, he was apparently kidnapped by PA police, who took him to a jail where he remained for nearly two months, undergoing daily torture, friends and supporters said.

His conversion had not yet been registered with the Chief Rabbinate before his abduction, so he was not yet an Israeli citizen, but he was granted a residency permit. Last week, after prompting by numerous organizations, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett arranged for his release.

But over the weekend, Kol Chai said, David Ben-Avraham was back in PA custody – this time in a facility run by Hamas. “When he was released Fatah was in charge of his arrest, this time it is Hamas,” the report said. Ben-Avraham had turned himself in after Hamas apparently detained his family, threatening them with death unless he returned, the report said.

Shomron Council head Yossi Dagan, who worked along with members of the beis din and numerous organizations to arrange for Ben-Avraham’s original release, said that “Israel is obligated to help” Ben-Avraham. “If a Jew with French or German citizenship was imprisoned in Chevron, would we say this was an internal Palestinian affair? This is a man who has been persecuted for his Judaism. The state has an obligation to free him in whatever way it can.”