Home Posts Israel Arrests Activists Protesting Forced Evictions In Sheikh Jarrah In Jerusalem.
Israel Arrests Activists Protesting Forced Evictions In Sheikh Jarrah In Jerusalem.

Israel Arrests Activists Protesting Forced Evictions In Sheikh Jarrah In Jerusalem.

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli police stormed a prominent family's home in Jerusalem's contested Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood on Sunday, arresting a 23-year-old woman who has led protests against Jewish settlers' attempts to evict dozens of Palestinian families from their homes in the area. The young woman was later released, but her twin brother turned himself in and remains detained.

The arrests came a day after Israeli police detained a well-known Al Jazeera reporter who was covering a demonstration in the neighborhood. The reporter, Givara Budeiri, was held for four hours before being released and taken to a hospital to be treated for a broken hand. It was unclear how her hand was broken, but her boss blamed police mistreatment.

Heavy-handed police actions in Sheikh Jarrah and other parts of east Jerusalem earlier this year fueled weeks of unrest, helping to spark an 11-day war between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza.

These tensions have resurfaced this week, and they could erupt again if Israeli ultranationalists carry out plans to march through Jerusalem's Muslim Quarter on Thursday. Israeli police were expected to hold consultations on whether the parade, which was originally scheduled to take place before the war began on May 10, would be allowed to take place.

Renewed violence could complicate the task of embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's opponents, who formed a fragile and disparate coalition last week, of passing the parliamentary vote of confidence required to replace him and take office. Netanyahu's close ally oversees the police.

In Sheikh Jarrah, Jewish settlers have been waging a decades-long campaign to evict Palestinian families from densely populated Palestinian neighborhoods just outside the walls of the Old City. The area is one of the most sensitive parts of east Jerusalem, which is home to sites sacred to Jews, Christians, and Muslims and which Israel captured and annexed in a move not recognized internationally in 1967.

Settler groups and Israeli officials claim the Sheikh Jarrah dispute is simply about real estate, but Palestinians claim they are victims of a discriminatory system. The settlers are using a 1970 law that allows Jews to reclaim formerly Jewish properties lost during the 1948 war that preceded Israel's creation, a right denied to Palestinians who lost property in the same conflict.

The al-Kurd family of Sheikh Jarrah has been at the forefront of months of protests against the evictions.

Muna al-Kurd, 23, was apprehended by police early Sunday.

According to her father, Nabil al-Kurd, police "stood in large numbers and in a barbaric manner" at her home.

“I was sleeping, and I found them in my bedroom,” he explained, before police raided his home and arrested his daughter, who was escorted away in handcuffs in a video posted on social media.

“The reason for the arrest is that we have stated that we will not leave our homes, and they do not want anyone to express their opinion, they do not want anyone to tell the truth,” he explained, adding, “They want to silence us.”

Police also looked for her brother, Muhammad al-Kurd, but he was nowhere to be found; he later turned himself in to Jerusalem police.

Nasser Odeh, the siblings' lawyer, told reporters outside the police station that his clients had been accused of "disturbing public security and participating in nationalistic riots."

Muna al-Kurd was released late Sunday, but not before police clashed with a crowd outside the station, throwing stun grenades. Her brother was still detained.

The arrests came a day after Al Jazeera's Budeiri was dragged away by police from a protest in Sheikh Jarrah while wearing a "press" protective vest.

According to witnesses, police asked Budeiri for identification and did not allow her to return to her car to retrieve her government-issued press card; instead, she was handcuffed and dragged into a vehicle with darkened windows.

Budeiri is seen in handcuffs clutching her notebook and shouting, "Don't touch, enough, enough," in video footage posted online.

According to Israeli police, due to the tense situation, only accredited journalists are allowed into the neighborhood, and when Budeiri was unable to provide her press pass, police "removed her." Budeiri was arrested after becoming hostile and pushing an officer.

According to a statement, “the Israel Police will allow freedom of press coverage, provided that it is done in accordance (with) the law while maintaining public order,” referring to her broken hand.

Budeiri was detained for four hours before being released and taken to the hospital, according to Walid Omary, Al Jazeera's Jerusalem bureau chief, who added that, in addition to the broken hand, Budeiri also suffered bruises on her body and that police severely damaged her cameraman's video camera.

Budeiri is not allowed to return to her neighborhood for 15 days as part of her release, according to Omary.

“They’re attacking journalists in east Jerusalem because they don’t want them to continue covering what’s going on inside Sheikh Jarrah,” he explained.

According to the Foreign Press Association, which represents hundreds of journalists working for international news organizations, Budeiri's treatment was "the latest in a long line of heavy-handed tactics by Israeli police" against the media in recent weeks, which included journalists being hit with stun grenades, tear gas, sponge-tipped bullets, and putrid-smelling water.

“We call on police to punish the officers who needlessly injured an experienced journalist and broke professional equipment, and we urge police to uphold Israel’s pledges to respect press freedom and to allow journalists to do their jobs freely and without fear of injury or intimidation,” the FPA said.

Weeks of clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters in and around the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, a flashpoint holy site, sparked last month's war.

The conflict began on May 10 when Hamas, claiming to be the defender of the holy city, launched a barrage of rockets at Jerusalem, killing 254 people in Gaza and 13 in Israel before a cease-fire was declared on May 21.

Mostefa Souag, Al Jazeera's acting director general, noted that Budeiri's detention occurred following Israel's May 15 war-time destruction of a Gaza high-rise that housed Al Jazeera's local office, as well as The Associated Press' office.

The Associated Press has stated that it has no evidence of a purported Hamas presence in the building and has called for an independent investigation.

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