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Predawn raids in East Jerusalem target Palestinian youth over alleged stone throwing

Oct. 19, 2016 10:32 A.M. (Updated: Oct. 19, 2016 6:42 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Amid heightening tensions surrounding occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City over the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, Israeli forces arrested 15 Palestinians -- including five minors -- in early morning raids on Wednesday following a string of alleged rock throwing incidents.

Locals told Ma’an that Israeli special forces escorted by intelligence forces raided the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Silwan and al-Issawiya before dawn, summoning a number of youth to turn themselves in for interrogation while detaining 13 others and taking them to interrogation centers in the city.

A statement released by the Palestinian Prisoner's Society identified those detained as Moussa Odeh, 17, Majd Yousif Ubeid, 17, Husam Samih Elayyan, 16, Adham Nasser Sabta, 17, Nadim Muhammad Zahra, 17, Uday Samir Abu Tayih, Muhammad Ahmad Abbasi, Mahmoud Abu Nab, Muhammad Abu Nijmah, Mahmoud Abu Nijmah, Amir Abu Nijmah, Omar Abu Khatir, Muhammad al-Daqqaq, Bilal Nufal, and Abdullah al-Kiswani.

The raids came after Israeli police chased down and arrested a 15-year-old Palestinian in the al-Tur neighborhood just east of the Old City Tuesday afternoon, who was suspected of involvement in two separate rock-throwing incidents in the area that left three Israelis hospitalized for light injuries.

Three other Palestinian youth -- two 14-year-olds and one 19-year old -- were detained from al-Tur and Wadi Joz for allegedly throwing rocks at Israelis over Tuesday evening and taken in for interrogation, according to an Israeli police statement.

On Monday, 10 Palestinians, all between 15 and 17 years old, were detained after Israeli forces accused them of throwing rocks from the rooftop of their high school, which is located in the Old City, though an official from the Palestinian Ministry of Education told Ma’an that the accusations were “bogus” because security bars covering all the school’s windows make nearly impossible for students to throw anything out of them.

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."

Palestinian stone throwers face harsh penalties by Israeli authorities, with Israel passing a law last year setting sentences of up to 20 years in prison for stone throwing if intent to harm could be proven, and a minimum prison sentence of three years for throwing a stone at an Israeli.

Wednesday's raids came as Israeli forces were already deployed heavily across East Jerusalem communities on Tuesday, mainly in al-Tur, Silwan, and the entrance to al-Issawiya, where several roads were closed to secure celebrations for the holiday, as hundreds of Jewish worshipers took to the tense Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Severe restrictions on movement for Palestinians are typically implemented by the Israeli authorities during Jewish holidays for alleged security purposes, while tensions around Al-Aqsa Mosque were a main contributor to increasing unrest that began last October, after right-wing Israelis made frequent visits to the site during the Jewish high holiday season this time last year.

Israeli authorities meanwhile shut down passage between the occupied West Bank and Israel, as well as between the blockaded Gaza Strip and Israel between Saturday night and Monday night, as they had also done for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur earlier this month.
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