On Friday, February 27, residents of the village of Jayous conducted their weekly demonstration despite a torrential downpour. The marchers reached the last intersection before the south gate of the Apartheid Fence carrying Palestinian flags and chanting. They then dispersed to find shelter from the rain.
Despite the kidnapping of dozens of youths the previous week by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) and the continued detention of about 15 of them, roughly two dozen approached the gate and began throwing rocks at the Israeli jeeps stationed on the far side.
Unlike some weeks, the youths did not build barricades in the roadway leading into the village. Military jeeps entered the village via that roadway a few minutes later and soldiers gave chase to the fleeing young men. Maher Mohammed Fazi Shamasna was arrested in the immediate vicinity of his home, despite no indications that he had been involved in the stone throwing. His mother stated that he had gone outside to feed the family’s chickens when he was abducted by the soldiers who had not yet been able to capture any of their antagonists.
Maher was placed in a military jeep before any international or Israeli activists could respond to the situation. Soldiers near the jeep threw sound bombs at nearby people. His mother and female relatives pleaded with the soldiers to release Maher and activists who had arrived attempted to question the soldiers as to the reason for the arrest. The Israeli soldiers and border police refused to answer any questions and threatened the international and Israeli activists with arrest. They demanded that no photos or video footage be taken and demanded ID’s from the activists, all of whom refused to produce them for the soldiers.
All of the activists consented to go inside one of the Palestinian homes at the request of the mother of the kidnapped youth, who was attempting to negotiate the release of her son. The jeep carrying Maher had already exited the south gate and returned without the prisoner. The IOF then imposed a curfew on the village and showed a closed military zone order which had been apparently produced in advance of the demonstration. They remained in the village until dark. International activists who left homes in defiance of the curfew were threatened with shooting by the soldiers occupying a rooftop and another group was threatened with immediate arrest if seen on the streets again.
To date, Maher Shanasna is still in custody and is reported to have been transferred to the Huwarra detention center where he may be held for an indefinite period without legal representation or contact with family members.