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Israeli forces briefly detain, assault 15 Palestinian youth in East Jerusalem

Aug. 12, 2016 8:38 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 14, 2016 4:24 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- At least 15 Palestinian youths were detained and assaulted overnight Thursday in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem, and were later released after being banned from the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Israeli forces carried out large-scale detention raids across Jerusalem’s Old City overnight Thursday in anticipation of start of the Jewish holy day of Tisha B'av, which commemorates the anniversary of what worshipers believe to be the destruction of the first and second Jewish temples.

The 15 Palestinian youth were later released on the condition of being banned from entering the Al-Aqsa compound for 15 days.

Alaa al-Haddad, member of the Families of Jerusalem Detainees committee, said that Israeli forces assaulted the youths before handcuffing them and taking them to the al-Qishla police station, where they then issued the 15-day bans.

The detainees were identified as Omar al-Zaanin, Abdullah Daana, Muhammad Arafeh, Ubada Najib, Ahmad al-Shawish, Muhammad Abu Farha, Ahmad al-Razem, Muhammad Najib, Said Asileh, Laith Ghaith, Ibrahim al-Natsheh, Mamun Ghaith, Mahmoud al-Shawish, and Muhammad al-Bayyumi.

Al-Haddad added that Israeli forces closed the entrances of the Old City around 3 a.m. Friday, preventing people from coming in or out, claiming that a stabbing attack was carried out in the area. A youth identified as Shadi Sider was also detained.

An Israeli police spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

Extremist settlers have already stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound leading up to the day of fasting, and are expected to carry out massive tours in the compound on Sunday, the day of Tisha B'av.

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.

While Jewish visitation is permitted to the Al-Aqsa compound, non-Muslim worship is prohibited according to an agreement signed between Israel and the Jordanian government after Israel’s illegal occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967.

Despite this agreement, Israeli authorities regularly allow Jewish visitors to enter the site -- often under armed guard. Such visits are typically made by right-wingers attempting to unsettle the status quo at the site, and coincide with restrictions on Palestinian access, including bans on entrance and detentions.

In past weeks, Israeli authorities have also repeatedly cracked down on employees of Al-Aqsa, detaining, summoning, and banning 21 Palestinian employees in the space of 10 days earlier this month.
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