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Hundreds of Israeli police raid refugee camp to detain Palestinian youth

Jan. 17, 2017 1:09 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 17, 2017 6:01 P.M.)
Israeli forces raid Shufat refugee camp. Jan. 17, 2017 (Photo: Israeli police spokesperson)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Hundreds of Israeli police forces raided the Shufat refugee camp in occupied East Jerusalem before dawn on Tuesday to detain nine young Palestinian men, searching and ransacking more than 20 homes at gunpoint.

Spokesman of the Fatah movement in Shufat Thaer al-Fasfous said more than 500 Israeli police officers, border police soldiers, and special force officers were involved in the raid of the camp, which is home to some 9,850 Palestinian refugees living on just a 0.2-square-kilometer space.

Al-Fasfous added that Israeli troops "deliberately" damaged the interiors of the houses they searched.

He identified seven of the young men who were detained as Usayd Ahmad Ali, Ward Muhammad Sheikh Ali, Amir Sheikh Ali, Muhammad al-Fasfous, Ihab Muhammad Nababta, Ihab Nawfal, and Anas al-Rajabi.

However, the Palestinian Prisoner's Society (PPS) identified in a statement the nine Palestinians as Usayd Sheikh Ali, Ward Sheikh Ali, Amir Sheikh Ali, Muhammad al-Fasfous, Issa Muhammad Ali, Issa Dirbas, Muhammad Jabiri, Ihab Suleiman, and Nadia Abu Jamal -- the widow of Ghassan Abu Jamal, a Palestinian who was killed in 2014 after carrying out a deadly attack in a Jerusalem synagogue.

According to Israeli police, it was the eighth time Israeli forces had raided Shufat refugee camp since the beginning of 2017, as part of what spokeswoman Luba al-Samri called “the 700 campaign.”

Some of the detainees, according to al-Samri, were suspected of throwing stones, fireworks, and Molotov cocktails at Israeli forces. Others were suspected of illegal possession of firearms and stolen commodities.

According to Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, 14 houses were searched, where they found weapons, knives, and other equipment “that was used by the suspects and could be use for attacks and illegal activity against police units that patrol areas around Jerusalem.”
Israeli forces raid Shufat refugee camp. Jan. 17, 2017 (Photo: Israeli police spokesperson)
Shufat refugee camp is located in northeastern Jerusalem within Israel's municipal boundaries of the city, but is encircled on three sides by Israel’s separation wall, forcing residents to pass through a congested military checkpoint to access the rest of Jerusalem where most claim residency status.

In September, the camp experienced at least seven consecutive days of violent raids in the weeks following a fatal shooting of a camp resident by Israeli forces while he was driving home.

Meanwhile, the camp is routinely the site of violent clashes, with Israeli forces commonly firing tear gas canisters, sound bombs, and rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinian youth armed with stones.
Israeli forces raid Shufat refugee camp. Jan. 17, 2017 (Photo: Israeli police spokesperson)
A day prior to the raid in Shufat, Israeli forces shot 17-year-old Qusay Hassan al-Umour to death after he was allegedly throwing stones at Israeli forces in the southern occupied West Bank village of Tuqu.

Defense for Children International - Palestine (DCIP), who said Sunday night on social media that they were investigating the killing of 17-year-old al-Umour, released a report at the end of 2016 that said the year had been "the deadliest year in the past decade" for Palestinian children.

“Israeli forces have increasingly used excessive force to squash demonstrations since 2014,” the reported quoted Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director at DCIP as saying. “Intentional lethal force now appears to be routinely used by Israeli forces, even in unjustified situations, with no accountability, putting more and more children at risk.”

Ma'an documentation estimates that 33 Palestinian minors, aged 17 and younger, were killed in 2016.

The crackdown on Palestinian youth in the occupied territory for alleged “rioting” also comes on the heels of 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.

DCIP wrote in a report last summer that Palestinian youth convicted of throwing stones in Jerusalem were already feeling 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.

On Monday, an Israeli military court in the West Bank sentenced a 13-year-old Palestinian to 31 days in prison for allegedly throwing stones, and in September, Israeli courts sentenced four Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, including two minors, to prison for throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails.
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