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Israeli police detain 4 Palestinians in Issawiya in connection to rock throwing incident

July 10, 2016 2:02 P.M. (Updated: July 10, 2016 9:12 P.M.)
Israeli police run towards Palestinian protesters during clashes in Issawiya on Sept. 13, 2015. (AFP, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Three teenage Palestinian residents of the town of Issawiya in occupied East Jerusalem were detained by Israeli police on Sunday over suspicions of being involved in a rock throwing incident adjacent to a nearby illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank, and a fourth was detained for a separate incident targeting a nearby hospital and under investigation for being connected to the other three teens.

According to Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld, the three Palestinians, aged between 16 and 17 years old, were detained during police operations in East Jerusalem in connection to rocks and Molotov cocktails being thrown at settler vehicles heading to Maale Adumim east of Jerusalem. No injuries were reported.

Later on Sunday, Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said in a statement that the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court decided to extend the remand of three teens for an unspecified period of time, and that in addition to being suspected of throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at settler vehicles, the young Palestinians were also suspected of hurling stones and Molotov cocktails at a gas station at the entrance to Issawiya.

She added that a fourth 16-year-old Palestinian from Issawiya was detained "recently" on suspicion that he hurled Molotov cocktails at Hadassah Medical Center in occupied East Jerusalem near the neighborhood, and that investigations were ongoing to determine if there were any connections between him and the three detained Sunday.

The detentions came amid an increase in Israeli police operations and detention raids in Palestinian communities in occupied East Jerusalem, which spiked in the wake of rising tensions surrounding the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City during the holy month of Ramadan, which ended last week.

On Thursday, reports emerged that the Israeli Ministry of Finance requested some 41 million shekels ($10.3 million) be allocated to protect Israelis residing in illegal settlements in East Jerusalem, to nearly double the existing funds already set aside to protect East Jerusalem settlers.

In a response to a request for comment, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Finance told Ma'an that the reports were misleading in that the 41 shekels are to be allocated for the general "reinforcement of police forces in eastern Jerusalem, and not for personal security for the settlers in East Jerusalem."

"Police forces are expected to operate and to patrol in the East Jerusalem area in order to increase the level of security over there," the spokesperson said, adding that "we wish to emphasize that police forces do not secure Jewish residents of Eastern Jerusalem in particular."

Israel detains hundreds of Palestinians for alleged stone throwing every year, and Israeli rights group B'Tselem reported that from 2005 to 2010, "93 percent of the minors convicted of stone throwing were given a prison sentence, its length ranging from a few days to 20 months."

In July 2015, legislation was passed in the Israeli Knesset allowing sentencing for up to 20 years for someone convicted of throwing stones at vehicles if intent can be proven. However, the law allowed the Israeli state to imprison someone for up to 10 years without proof of intent.

Rights groups have slammed the law for disproportionately affecting Palestinian youth while Israelis are rarely charged with similar crimes.

East Jerusalem is internationally recognized as Palestinian territory, but Israel occupied it in 1967 and later annexed it in a move never considered legitimate by the international community.

More than 500,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law.
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