Israeli police detain prominent Palestinian activist for several hours

A Palestinian protest leader was held by Israeli police for several hours after being arrested in the politically sensitive Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of Jerusalem.

The detention of Muna al-Kurd, who was later released, came amid heightened tensions in one of the most contentious areas of the city, which has been at the centre of unrest and helped sparked the recent deadly conflict between Israel and Hamas militants.

It follows the release from hospital of a prominent Al Jazeera journalist who was arrested while covering the campaign by Jewish settlers to evict dozens of Palestinian families from the district.

The boss of Givara Budeiri, a veteran correspondent for the satellite TV channel, said she had suffered a broken hand when she was detained on Saturday.

Ms Muna was arrested after Israeli police “stormed the house in large numbers and in a barbaric manner” early on Sunday, her father Nabil al-Kurd said.

Officers said they wanted to arrest his daughter, aged 23, and her 22-year-old brother, he added.

He said: “I was sleeping and I found them in my bedroom.”

While his son was not home, police searched the house and arrested Ms Muna, one of the most well-known activists opposing the Israeli eviction drive.

Video posted on social media showed her being taken from the home in handcuffs.

Ms Muna’s father said: “The reason for the arrest is that we say that we will not leave our homes, and they do not want anyone to express his opinion, they do not want anyone to tell the truth.

“They want to silence us.”

Police later confirmed the arrest of a 23-year-old woman for allegedly participating in “public disturbances” in Sheikh Jarrah.

Responding to her arrest, the Palestinian ambassador to the UK Husam Zomlot wrote on Twitter: “Arresting one or a thousand Palestinian does not end the struggle against injustice. If anything, it only strengthens people’s quest for freedom & dignity. You can’t defeat a nation, and you won’t defeat the nation of Palestine.”

Later, a tweet from writer and researcher Mariam Barghouti said: “The brave @kurd_muna is released! She was first taken from the police station to a detention center notorious for torturing Palestinians.”

The weekend tensions began on Saturday as Ms Budeiri, wearing body armour marked “press”, covered a sit-in by protesters.

Witnesses and the satellite channel said that after the demonstration was over, Israeli police asked her for press identification.

She offered to call her driver to bring it, but officers surrounded her, pushed her and handcuffed her, before leading her to a border police vehicle.

She was held for four hours before she was taken to hospital with a broken hand, said Walid Omary, the Jerusalem bureau chief for Al Jazeera.

In footage posted online, Ms Budeiri can be seen handcuffed and surrounded by border police and she is heard shouting: “Don’t touch, enough, enough.”

Israeli police said she was detained after she was asked for identification, refused, and pushed a police officer.

Al Jazeera said her cameraman’s video camera was also badly damaged by police.

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The channel’s acting director general, Mostefa Souag, condemned the police actions, saying: “The systematic targeting of our journalists is in total violation of all international conventions.”

“They are attacking the journalists in east Jerusalem because they don’t want them to continue covering what’s happening inside Sheikh Jarrah,” Mr Omary added.

The tension in Sheikh Jarrah has fuelled weeks of unrest and helped trigger fighting between Israel and Hamas after the Islamic militant group fired several rockets towards Jerusalem on 10 May, saying it was defending Palestinian rights in the holy city.

The conflict, in which 254 people were killed in Gaza and 13 in Israel, ended on 21 May. Many of the victims in Gaza were women and children.

In total, Hamas fired more than 4,000 rockets towards Israel, while Israel bombed hundreds of Gaza targets it said were linked to the militants.

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