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After attack, heavy presence of Israeli forces in East Jerusalem sparks clashes

Jan. 9, 2017 11:05 A.M. (Updated: Jan. 9, 2017 5:15 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- Clashes erupted in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabbir on Sunday night amid a fierce crackdown by Israeli forces in the area, after one of the neighborhood's residents carried out a deadly truck attack earlier in the day at a neighboring illegal Israeli settlement.

Fadi al-Qunbar, 28, was shot dead by Israeli soldiers and armed civilians on Sunday afternoon moments after he plowed a truck into a group of Israeli soldiers, killing four and wounding several others in the illegal settlement of East Talpiyyot, which is located next to Jabal al-Mukabbir.

"After yesterday's deadly attack in Jerusalem, heightened police security operations taking place in a number of Arab neighborhoods," Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said on Twitter Monday morning, and later announced that police prevented a memorial area being set up for al-Qunbar in the neighborhood.

Eyewitnesses confirmed to Ma’an that Israeli forces dismantled a mourning tent the family had set up for al-Qunbar, adding that one Palestinian youth was detained in the process.

Meanwhile, local committee member Muhammad Abu al-Hummus said that Israeli forces raided the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya at dawn on Monday and detained six Palestinians, three of whom were minors.

Sunday night, witnesses told Ma’an that Israeli forces closed off the main entrance to Jabal al-Mukabbir -- al-Madaris street -- with cement blocks, and were heavily deployed in the neighborhood's streets, sparking clashes with local Palestinian youth.

Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri confirmed in a statement that Israeli forces closed a crossing at Jabal al-Mukabbir and “controlled traffic” at the other entrances to the neighborhood in order to “maintain public safety,” after fireworks were thrown at Israeli forces stationed in the area.

Dozens of Israeli settlers meanwhile launched a march under the protection of Israeli forces near Jabal al-Mukabbir on Sunday evening, chanting anti-Palestinian slurs, according to locals.

Al-Samri said that the group gathered at the East Talpiyyot settlement and “attempted” to make their way to Jabal al-Mukabbir while shouting “inciting” slogans, saying that the protest was organized by the right-wing extremist organization Lehava -- a Hebrew acronym standing for "the Prevention of Assimilation in the Holy Land.”

Israeli police eventually dispersed the protest and detained two settlers for “disturbing order and not following police directions,” after the settlers blocked off streets, according to al-Samri.

Meanwhile, as of Monday morning, Israeli forces were detaining five of al-Qunbar’s family members -- his wife Tahani, his two brothers Muhammad and Munther, his cousin Muhammad, and his sister Shadia, locals told Ma'an, without specifying whether al-Qunbar's parents, Ahmad and Minwa, were still in custody, or if they had been released.

Israeli police confirmed on Sunday that it had detained five family members, and that at least four others had been detained in connection to the attack.

The detention campaign and blockade of the al-Qunbar’s neighborhood were typical of measures imposed by Israeli authorities in response to attacks on Israelis.

Israel has come under harsh condemnation for its punitive response to attacks over the past year, which rights groups have said amounted to “collective punishment” and represents a clear violation of international law.

Local organization in occupied East Jerusalem the Wadi Hilweh Information Center said that clashes also erupted in the Silwan neighborhood on Sunday night.

According to the center, Palestinian youth threw Molotov cocktails at an Israeli military vehicle passing in the area, which Israeli forces responded to by firing sound sound bombs in the neighborhood and conducting searches of all vehicles and civilians passing through.

They added that Israeli forces also raided two brick-making workshops in Silwan on Sunday night and detained Moussa Sharaf and his son Daoud while they were at work in the shop.

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