Israel arrests prominent Palestinian activist for role in eviction protests


Israeli security forces have arrested a leading Palestinian activist at her family’s home on Sunday for her role in protests against the possible eviction of Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem.

Video footage being circulated on social media showed Muna El-Kurd, 23, being handcuffed while inside her home in Sheikh Jarrah and taken to an Israeli police station in Jerusalem for interrogation.

Israeli police said she was arrested on suspicion of participating in riots that took place in Sheikh Jarrah recently.

The police also summoned Muna’s twin brother Mohammed for questioning. Mohammed turned himself into the same police station where his sister was being held.

Both were later released after questioning by the authorities.

Tensions in Sheikh Jarrah played a role in recent fighting between Israel and the militant group Hamas.

The conflict last month saw 11 days of hostilities in which more than 250 people were killed, most of them in Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas.

Clashes that broke out in Sheikh Jarrah and at the al-Aqsa mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem contributed to the increasingly charged atmosphere in the build-up to the conflict.

Following Muna el-Kurd’s arrest on Sunday, a spokeswoman for the Israeli police said officers had arrested a suspect “under court order”.

From the property, Muna and her brother Mohammed have used social media to bring the issue of the potential forced eviction of several Palestinian families to international attention. The families include her own, which has lived in East Jerusalem for decades.

They face eviction after Israeli courts ruled that the land belonged to a Jewish settler organisation in a long-running and bitter legal case. The case has moved on to Israel’s Supreme Court, which allows the families to appeal.

Their father, Nabil el-Kurd, told reporters he was surprised when Israeli security forces turned up at the family’s home and “searched the whole house”.

“They will not frighten us or our children,” he said.

Many Palestinians and their supporters have come to see Muna and Mohammed el-Kurd as powerful new young voices of protest.

The family’s lawyer, Nasser Odeh, said the pair faced charges of disturbing public order and “riotous acts”, AFP news agency reported.

Muna el-Kurd’s arrest came just hours after a journalist for the Al Jazeera news network, GivaraBudeiri, was briefly detained while reporting from Sheikh Jarrah.

Israeli police accused Ms Budeiri of assaulting officers. She has denied the allegations.

Al Jazeera condemned the arrest of its journalist, who was covering a sitting protest against the threat to evict Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah and wearing a press vest at the time.

The network said in a statement that the incident showed a “total disregard for the fundamental human rights of journalists”.  (Source: BBC)