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Palestinian Prisoner's Society director released from jail, banned from Al-Aqsa

Oct. 11, 2016 4:59 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 11, 2016 8:20 P.M.)
Nasser Qaws, far right, the director for the Jerusalem chapter of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society. (File)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- An Israeli court ordered to release Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) Jerusalem chapter director Nasser Qaws from Israeli custody on Tuesday after he was detained two days earlier, but ruled to ban him from the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound for 45 days.

PPS lawyer Mufid al-Hajj said in a statement that Qaws was also ordered to pay a bail of 500 shekels ($131) by the Jerusalem magistrate court. He was originally charged with obstructing Israeli police work.

Qaws, 45, has been detained tens of times by Israeli forces according to PPS, most recently in June when he was assaulted and taken in for interrogation.

Qaws was among 39 Palestinians who were detained in extensive raids across East Jerusalem, while a total of 56 Palestinians were detained across the occupied territory between Sunday night and Monday.

The raids came in the wake of a deadly shooting that left the Palestinian attacker and two Israelis dead Sunday morning in occupied East Jerusalem.

The slain gunman responsible for the attack, Misbah Abu Sbeih, was banned from the whole of East Jerusalem for a month a week prior to the shooting, after he had already been banned from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque for six months. In July, he was also issued a travel ban until the end of the year.

The day before the attack, Abu Sbeih told Ma'an in an interview that he was planning on turning himself in to Israeli authorities to serve a prison sentence for prior charge, after being repeatedly harassed and detained by Israeli police.

"Ahead of Jewish holidays, the Israeli occupation applies a well-known policy, but this time they took it too far,” Abu Sbeih told Ma’an, referring to heightened security measures imposed by Israeli forces in occupied East Jerusalem amid the ongoing Jewish high holiday season.

Last week, Israeli police detained 15 Palestinians in East Jerusalem on the eve of Rosh Hashanah. Israeli police have maintained a heavy presence in the area since, as the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur began on Tuesday.

In the wake of the attack, Israeli security operations have only increased in Jerusalem. In addition to the massive raids during which Qaws was detained, Israeli forces have also raided and ransacked two homes belonging to Abu Sbeih, taking measurements in preparation to carry out punitive demolition, while also detaining his father and 17-year-old daughter.

Tensions around occupied East Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque compound were a main contributor to a wave of unrest that began last October, after right-wing Israelis made frequent visits to the site during the Jewish holiday season this time last year.

The 39-year-old gunman was the 232nd Palestinian to be killed by Israelis amid the violence, while 34 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians.

The violence has mostly been characterized by small-scale attacks with knives or similar weapons, however, a number of attempted and actual shooting attacks have targeted Israelis over the past year.

The third holiest site in Islam, Al-Aqsa is also venerated as Judaism’s most holy place, as it sits where Jews believe the First and Second Temples once stood.

Mainstream Jewish law forbids present-day entry to the compound; however, right-wing Israelis gaining ground in the current Israeli government have stoked fears in Palestinians since calling for the destruction of the mosque to make room for a Third Temple.
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