Israel arrests Palestinian minister in Jerusalem

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Israel has detained and questioned the Palestinian minister for Jerusalem affairs, Israeli police have said.

Palestine‘s Minister for Jerusalem Affairs Fadi al-Hadami was detained for “activities in Jerusalem”, Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld told AFP on Sunday.

Palestinian media reported that Israeli police had arrested al-Hadami from his home in Jerusalem in the early hours of Sunday morning, after searching the premises.

The sources said five other Palestinian men were also arrested on Sunday, from areas across Jerusalem, Bethlehem and south of Hebron in the occupied West Bank.

The detainees identified by Palestinian media included Haydar and Alaa Dirbas who were arrested at the Maqasid Hospital in Occupied East Jerusalem, and Ihab Saeed who was arrested from his village near Jerusalem. 

The Israeli authorities did not comment on why the men were arrested.

Hadami meets Chile’s president 

A source close to the minister told AFP that al-Hadami’s arrest is likely linked to his accompanying of Chile‘s president during a visit to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound a few days ago.

On Tuesday, al-Hadami was seen alongside Chilean President Sebastian Pinera on a tour of the flashpoint holy site, enraging Israel, which said it constituted a violation of regulations and a breach of understandings reached with Santiago for the head of state’s visit.

Commenting on the visit, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said in a statement on Wednesday that the government “takes seriously any infringement of Israeli sovereignty on the Temple Mount, especially one that violates an agreed-upon procedure.

“We must distinguish between absolute freedom of worship that Israel safeguards [and] ensuring that our sovereignty over the Temple Mount is not harmed,” he added.

Israeli media reported that the ministry received a formal letter from the Chilean Embassy later that day, explaining that Pinera’s visit to the Al-Aqsa compound had been a private one.

The status of Al-Aqsa, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, is one of the most sensitive issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.   

It is the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest for Muslims after Mecca and Medina. It is administered by the Muslim Waqf but secured by Israeli police.  

Jerusalem protests

The Israeli shooting of a Palestinian demonstrator on Thursday sparked days of unrest in a number of neighbourhoods in and around Jerusalem [Faiz Abu Rmeleh/Anadolu]

Days of unrest  

The arrests follow days of unrest in Jerusalem after Israeli police shot and killed a 20-year-old Palestinian on Thursday, in the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Issawiya.

The young man, identified as Mohammed Obeid, died of his wounds, according to the Palestinian health ministry. Israeli authorities said they shot Obeid after he allegedly threw fireworks at them.    

The incident sparked protests. Overnight on Saturday, Israeli police “continued dealing with riots and disturbances in a number of neighbourhoods when stones were thrown at officers and fireworks fired at them,” Rosenfeld said in a statement.    

Two officers were wounded and six suspects arrested, he added.    

Israel occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank in the 1967 War. It later annexed East Jerusalem in a move never recognised by the international community. 

Israel sees all of Jerusalem as its undivided capital, while the Palestinians see East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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