Skip to main content

Prominent Palestinian academic arrested in Israel for 'incitement'

Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian had previously been suspended from her job at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem over anti-Zionist comments
Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, a law professor, was suspended by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem on 12 March 2024 (Social media)

A prominent Palestinian academic already suspended from her university position over anti-Zionist comments has been arrested on "suspicion of incitement".

According to Israeli media, Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian has been arrested for questioning by Israeli police, who will then determine whether she should be held in custody or released.

Shalhoub-Kevorkian is a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which suspended her last month after she called for "abolishing Zionism" and suggested that accounts of sexual assault during the Hamas-led 7 October attacks on Israel were a "lie".

Shalhoub-Kevorkian is also a chair in global law at Queen Mary University of London in the UK. 

Israeli police reportedly asked the prosecutor's office at the beginning of April to approve the opening of a criminal investigation against the scholar on suspicion of incitement.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


The Hebrew University's move to suspend Shalhoub-Kevorkian, whose work focuses on trauma, state crimes, gender, surveillance and genocide, was widely criticised online, with commentators accusing the university of cracking down on criticism of Israel's actions.

Jamil Dakwar, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's (ACLU) human rights programme, described the suspension as "another blow to academic freedom in Israel". 

Eventually the university reversed its decision following an apology from the professor, as well as an admission that sexual assault took place on 7 October.

Shalhoub-Kevorkian's arrest brought both praise and condemnation in Israel.

Elhanan Fellheimer, chair of the National Union of Israeli Students, said he hoped the "arrest will mark a new way of handling the whole issue of incitement in academia and incitement against Israel in general".

Ofer Cassif, an MP for the left-wing Hadash party, compared the arrest to that of a "dictatorial regime".

Adalah, an advocacy group which campaigns for the rights of Palestinians in Israel, said: “The arrest of Professor Shalhoub-Kevorkian is an egregious violation of her rights, motivated by an agenda of incitement, political persecution, and racism.

"Her opinions and speech are protected under the right of freedom of expression and academic freedom. The decision of the State Attorney’s Office to pursue an investigation against her flagrantly violates her right to freedom of expression, contradicts the rule of law, and appears to be unduly influenced by the radical right-wing."

Since the outbreak of war last year, scores of Palestinian citizens of Israel have been arrested in connection with social media posts expressing solidarity with victims of Israeli bombardment in Gaza. 

Middle East Eye reported in October that Palestinian students in Israel suspected of harbouring sympathies for the residents of Gaza, or opinions critical of Israeli policy, were being reported to their faculties and, in many cases, suspended.

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.