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Israeli police assault Palestinians during raid into Jerusalem's Old City

Feb. 13, 2017 10:41 A.M. (Updated: Feb. 13, 2017 9:57 P.M.)
Right: Nasser Qawas, the director for the Jerusalem chapter of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (File)
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- The head of the Jerusalem chapter of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS), Nasser Qaws, said he was assaulted by Israeli police during a raid into occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City on Sunday night, when three other Palestinian youths were also detained.

Qaws said that Israeli police forces raided al-Wad Street in the Old City, targeting the home of the Najib family where officers detained three unidentified youths.

Israeli forces used pepper spray and physically assaulted members of the Najib family, including women and children, Qaws added.

He said that as Israeli forces retreated from the house, they assaulted and pushed back local Palestinians who had gathered in the area.

Qaws said he sustained an injury to his eye at the hands of Israeli police.

Qaws, 45, has been detained tens of times by Israeli forces according to PPS, most recently last October when he was banned from the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound for 45 days upon his release, after being charged with obstructing Israeli police work.

Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a written statement at 10 p.m. Sunday that two Palestinian minors were detained in the Old City over allegedly assaulting an Israeli border policeman who sustained a light injury. The two minors were taken to police station in Jerusalem to continue interrogation, she said.

It could not immediately be confirmed if the two mentioned in her statement were detained in the raid of the Najib family home mentioned by Qaws, though Israeli police typically do not release the identities of minors involved in ongoing investigations.

Hours later, Israeli police also raided the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya before dawn Monday, according to Muhammad Abu al-Hummus, a member of a local popular committee in the area. He said Israeli forces searched several houses, destroying furniture and other personal belongings, adding that a group of youths were also detained and taken in for interrogation.

A statement later released by PPS said that five Palestinians were detained overnight in Jerusalem, without specifying their specific locations. The detainees were Amir Dirbas, a minor identified as Baraa Mahmoud, 16-year-old Majd Abu Sakran, Bashar Mahmoud, and Muhammad Fawzi Ubeid.

In recent months, Israeli forces have escalated a crackdown on Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem through hundreds of violent overnight raids, handing down harsh prison sentences to local youth, in addition to a demolition of campaign of Palestinian homes as illegal Israeli settlements in the area continue to expand.

During one large-scale predawn raid last week that targeted the families of Palestinians who were either slain or incarcerated after carrying out or allegedly carrying out attacks, one family detailed their violent assault by masked Israeli police who broke into their home at 3 a.m.

At least 14 Palestinians were detained and tens of thousands of dollars' worth of cash and property were confiscated in the raid, that Israeli authorities said was carried out based on intelligence gathered by the Israeli general security service and police.

Israeli daily Haaretz recently reported that intelligence-gathering raids in East Jerusalem were made in breach of protocol and constituted a violation of residents’ basic rights.

The report said that over the past two months, some 500 Palestinian homes had been raided in East Jerusalem by Israeli police officers who did not present warrants, contrary to proper procedures.

Meanwhile, rights groups Al‐Haq, Community Action Center (Al‐Quds University), BADIL, and Addameer issued a joint statement condemning “illegal collective punishment measures” by Israeli forces against Palestinian women and children in occupied East Jerusalem in recent months.

The joint statement said that the human rights organizations were “deeply concerned with the escalation of collective punishment measures against Palestinians from occupied East Jerusalem by Israel,” particularly in Jabal al-Mukabbir in the wake of a deadly vehicular attack by one of its residents in January.

Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said Sunday night -- more than one month after the attack that was carried out at the neighboring illegal Israeli settlement of East Talpiyyot -- that police had removed the checkpoint that had been installed at the entrance to Jabal al-Mukabbir,

"to allow citizens living there to resume with their normal lives."

Al-Samri noted that after the Jan. 8 attack, Israeli police conducted widespread detention campaigns targeting suspected rock throwers in East Jerusalem. She said some of the detentions were extended and that Israeli police planned to file charges against all of the detained suspects at a later date.

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