Israeli arrests of Jerusalemites increased during the past year, despite the coronavirus pandemic, and occupied Jerusalem topped the Palestinian cities in the number of detainees, according to the Palestine Center for Prisoner Studies, which monitored 2,000 arrests, including 360 children and 82 women.
Riad Al-Ashqar, the Director of the Center, explained that the rate of arrests from Jerusalem constituted about 42% of the rate of arrests that took place all over the territories during the year 2020, which reached (4,700) cases of detention and affected all segments of the Jerusalem community which did not exclude women, the sick, the elderly, the ex-prisoners, MPs, Islamic and national leaderships.
He pointed out that the Israeli occupation is using the policy of arrests against the Jerusalemites as a means of collective punishment in order to deter them from defending the holy city and confronting the escalating incursions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The arrests also affected many elderly people, most notably Abd al-Rahim Barbar (80 years) from the Ras al-Amud neighborhood, and the elderly Ali Ajaj (70 years), from the Old City.
Al-Ashqar stated that the town of Issawiya was the biggest areas of arrests reaching (620) cases of detention, which constitutes a third of the arrests from Jerusalem, followed by the vicinity of the Al-Aqsa Mosque (380) cases of detention, and from the Old City of Jerusalem, cases reached (280) cases of detention and the town of Silwan, the arrests amounted to (260) cases of detention, from Shuafat (110) cases of detention, and from Al-Tur (130) cases of detention.
The report mentioned that January 2020 witnessed the highest rate of arrests in Jerusalem, which amounted to about 245 cases, and the lowest was in April, which amounted to 90 arrests.
Al-Ashqar added that the arrests also affected a number of Islamic and national leaders from Jerusalem, including the head of the Supreme Islamic Authority and the preacher of Al-Aqsa, Ekrimah Sabri, Sheikh Najeh Bikirat, Deputy Director-General of Islamic Awqaf, the Governor of Jerusalem, Adnan Ghaith, Minister of Jerusalem Affairs Fadi Al-Hudmi, Director of the Prisoner's Club Nasser Qus and the Director of Al-Aqsa Sheikh Omar Al-Kiswani.
The arrests also affected two of the Jerusalem representatives, namely Sheikh Muhammad Abu Tir (68 years), who had been expelled from Jerusalem for 9 years, and he had spent more than 35 years in the occupation prisons, and Representative Ahmed Atoun (55 years), who had spent more than 13 years in the occupation prisons. They both were sentenced to administrative detention for a period of 4 months.
The report also said that the Israeli forces arrested the former Minister of Jerusalem Affairs, Khaled Ibrahim Abu Arafa (59 years) after he was summoned for investigation at the Ofer jail, and an administrative detention order was issued against him for a period of four months as well.
Al-Ashqar stated that the Israeli occupation escalated the targeting of Jerusalemite women where the cases of detention among women reached 82 cases, including 10 minors.
The Israeli occupation also continued to target the Jerusalemite women in Al-Aqsa under the pretext of confronting settler incursions, and some of them were arrested more than once during the past months, most notably Hanadi Al-Halawani and Madeline Issa, teacher Khadija Khwais, Aya Abu Nab, activist Raeda Saeed, and Nafisa Khwais.
Meanwhile, the Jerusalemite poet Rania Hatem was arrested after storming her house in the town of Al-Tur, and she was released after the investigation.
While the administration of Damon Prison isolated the two Jerusalemite women prisoners, Fadwa Hamada and Jihan Hashima, in the cells of the "Jalameh" prison in harsh and difficult conditions, under the pretext of violating the prisoner's instructions, as their isolation was terminated after 70 days, while the prisoner Hamada was re-isolated again under the pretext of insulting a prisoner.
Al-Ashqar pointed out that the arrests from Jerusalem affected minor children, as the cases of detention among minors from Jerusalem reached (360) children, among them (41) children under the age of 14 years, the youngest of whom is Moaz Awiwi (10 years) in the village of Al-Issawiya.
Among the detainees were 3 children from the town of Abu Dis, who were injured by live bullets 20 days before their arrest and were still receiving treatment, and their health condition is precarious.
The Israeli occupation is not satisfied with arrest warrants for Jerusalem people, but rather targets them after their release with house arrest decisions, as well as imposing the penalty of banning them from their homes and heavy fines.
During the past year, the occupation issued (360) deportation decisions against Jerusalemites, including (305) deportation decisions from Al-Aqsa Mosque, (44) deportation decisions from Old Jerusalem, and 11 deportation decisions from Jerusalem.
It also issued (130) decisions to house imprisonment during the year 2020, and these decisions are an alternative to imprisonment and aim at home residence and restricting the freedom of people, especially children, as well as imposing heavy financial fines, estimated at tens of thousands of dollars, against those who were arrested and brought before the courts, whether they were sentenced to actual imprisonment or a fine in exchange for their release.