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Israeli forces detain 4 Palestinians in Hebron during Passover

April 25, 2016 11:51 A.M. (Updated: April 25, 2016 8:37 P.M.)
HEBRON (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces detained four Palestinians on Monday during predawn raids in Hebron, as heightened security measures and restrictions on movement were enforced in the southern occupied West Bank district for the Jewish holiday of Passover.

Israeli forces detained Barakah Rajeh Taha, a former prisoner who had been released in the 2011 Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal. The house of his brother was also raided, witnesses said.

Local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awad told Ma’an that Israeli forces ransacked the house of Ibrahim Awad, who was killed during clashes with Israeli forces in October 2015 in Beit Ummar.

Israeli forces also reportedly seized 1,500 grams of gold, 3,000 shekels ($795), and 150 Jordanian dinars ($212) from Ibrahim Awad’s father, Ahmad Awad. He told Ma’an that the gold belongs to his three married daughters.

Witnesses told Ma’an that Israeli forces also detained an unidentified former Palestinian prisoner after storming his house in Hebron and closed Abu al-Reesh checkpoint with cement blocks.

A total of four Palestinians were detained in Hebron early Monday morning for “illegal activities,” an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an.

The detention campaign comes amid heightened security measures across the occupied Palestinian territory by the Israeli military during this year’s Jewish Passover holiday.

According to the Israeli army spokesperson, in line with “status quo agreements regarding freedom of religion,” the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron’s Old City would remain closed to Palestinian Muslims until Tuesday evening, while only Jewish worshipers would be permitted inside the holy site.

Hebron resident and prominent activist Issa Amro told Ma’an Sunday Palestinians in the Old City were preparing for a total lockdown by the Israeli military as thousands of Israelis plan to visit the holy site during Passover.

Concerning road closures and other additional security measures being implemented in the area, the Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an “nothing unusual” was being enforced.

“Passover for Jews means freedom and justice,” Amro told Ma’an. “Unfortunately for us [Palestinians] it means curfews, restrictions, discrimination, detentions.”

While Amro anticipated higher-than-average rates of detention by Israeli military forces due to the holiday, predawn raids are regularly carried out in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Since the beginning of 2016, Israeli forces have carried out a weekly average of 96 search and detention operations, according to The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

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