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Israeli police detain 52 Palestinians in Jerusalem in self-styled '700 campaign'

July 27, 2016 3:55 P.M. (Updated: July 27, 2016 5:32 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces detained 52 Palestinians -- including 11 minors -- overnight Tuesday after raiding communities just south of occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City, amid a massive detention campaign targeting Palestinian youth in the area, a day after some 30 Palestinians families in East Jerusalem were left homeless by Israeli authorities-enforced home demolitions.

Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement that Israeli police detained 52 Palestinians in the Silwan and Ras al-Amoud neighborhoods overnight. The campaign, she said, was called "the 700" because 700 Israeli police officers were involved in the crackdown.

She added that hundreds of Israeli police and border guard officers were joined by representatives of Israel's national insurance institute and Jerusalem municipality officers. Locals reported at least one military helicopter circling over occupied East Jerusalem during the raids as backup.

The detainees, al-Samri said, were suspected of crimes including stone throwing, drug dealing, and theft.

According to a lawyer from prisoners’ rights group Addameer, Mohammad Mahmoud, the detainees were taken to the Russian Compound police station and a police station on Salah al-Din street in East Jerusalem.

A statement released Wednesday by Palestinian Prisoner’s Society identified 33 of the detained.

Among them were 11 minors: Omran Abu Sbeih, 14, Muhammad Qutub, 14, Muhammad Salayma, 15, Ibrahim Dandis, 16, Mustafa Muheisin, 16, Mousa Jabir, 17, Haroun Rweidat, 17, Sharif Abu Mayyala, 17, Jihad Bazlamit, 17, Omar Sharif, 17, and Ammar Atiyeh, 17.

The others were identified by PPS as Uday Abu Tayih, 18, Ahmad Dandis, 18, Abd al-Rahim Barbar, 18, Amir Najadi, 18, Taha Abu Tayih, 18, Yousif Abbas, 33, Khalil Odeh, 21, Ziad Hijazi, 27, Mansour Shuyukhi, 24, Muntasir Shuyukhi, 25, Jamal Daana, 22, Rabee Bashir, 29, Hasan Ruweidi, 19, Muhammad Shaloudi, 25, Anan Abu Khdeir, 19, Ayyub Abbasi, 20, Fathi Najada, 19, Ahmad Bazlamit, 21, Alaa Qutub, 21, Malik Hamdan, 19, Muatasim Abu Tayih, 21, Riyad Abu Diab, 39, Karim Abu Tayih, 28, and Muhammad Awwad, 33.

Jerusalem police have conducted widespread detention raids in recent weeks in occupied east Jerusalem, in connection to alleged stone-throwing incidents targeting Israeli border police and settlers in the area, particularly at the Old City’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound as well as at Israeli vehicles traveling between the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya and Maale Adumin -- a massive illegal Israeli settlement bloc just a few kilometers east in the occupied West Bank.

Al-Samri said in a statement last week that police detained at least nine young Palestinian suspects from Issawiya throughout the week, including five minors between the ages of 15 and 17 years old.

“Some of them admitted during interrogation that they threw stones at Israeli vehicles and police patrols on the roads to Maale Adumim,” al-Samri said.

The crackdown on Jerusalemite youth comes on the heels of newly approved changes to Israeli legislation increasing the penalty for stone throwing in 2014 and 2015, which rights groups say specifically target young Palestinians for crimes that Israeli Jews are rarely held accountable for.

Defense for Children International - Palestine (DCIP) wrote in a report on Wednesday that Palestinian youth convicted of throwing stones in Jerusalem were already starting to feel the effects of the changes in legislation, citing a number of recent cases of Palestinian minors being handed prison sentences for periods ranging between 12 to 39 months.

According to affidavits taken by DCIP, two of the teenagers “both had maintained their innocence and confessed only after they had experienced physical and psychological abuse.”

Meanwhile, some 30 Palestinian families in occupied East Jerusalem neighborhoods -- according to the PLO’s count -- were left homeless in a single day on Tuesday, in one the most extensive demolition onslaughts in the city in recent years.

In village of Qalandiya, located just beyond Israel’s separation wall in the occupied West Bank north of Jerusalem, Israeli forces destroyed 12 homes for lacking the proper Israeli-issued licences because they were built "too close to the wall," sparking violent clashes that left at least seven injured by Israeli rubber-coated steel bullets, tear-gas, and physical assault.

At least five other structures were demolished in Issawiya and Ras al-Amoud.

Palestinian areas in occupied East Jerusalem have seen an influx of Israeli settlers at the cost of home demolitions, the eviction of Palestinian families, as well as a heightened presence of Israeli forces and discriminatory policing.

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