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Israeli forces step-up campaign against Jerusalemite leaders

Ma’an News

20 October 2009

Two Jerusalem leaders were harassed and interrogated by Israeli forces Tuesday, marking a steep increase in targeted detentions and raids of organizers involved in the Al-Aqsa Mosque sit-ins and demonstrations during the Jewish holidays earlier this month.

In the latest incident, Israeli police released senior Fatah official and Jerusalem affairs official Hatem Abdul Qader after detaining him for hours at the Allenby Bridge as he returned to Palestine from Jordan on Tuesday.

Abdul-Qader said authorities on the bridge handed him an order to submit to further interrogation by Israel’s intelligence unit at 12pm on Wednesday, an order he said he intended to refuse.

On Thursday Abdul Qader was taken from his car along with Islamic Movement leader Ali Sheikha. The two reported they had been taken by undercover Israeli agents at the Qalandiya military checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah. He said officers disguised as motorists disabled his car and “kidnapped” the two officials. They were taken to Israel’s Russian Compound prison in West Jerusalem.

At that time he was also given an order to appear in front of Israeli intelligence at 10am the following Wednesday.

Abdul Qader called the latest detention “provocative,” since he was on a “semi-official” visit to Jordan in the capacity of a Palestinian Authority representative.

The official has been interrogated four times in the last two weeks, following the Palestinian protest of Israeli extremist action around the Al-Aqsa Mosque during the Jewish holidays earlier this month.

Israeli forces target home of Al-Quds Capital of Arab Culture organizer, seize documents

Prior to Abdul Qader’s detention and interrogation, Israeli Special Forces stormed the home of Al-Quds Capital of Culture organizer and architect Ihab Al-Jallad early Tuesday morning, sources reported.

Al-Jallad was questioned about the Al-Aqsa Mosque sit in that took place more than one week ago, while other masked soldiers ransacked his home and terrified his children, he said. The soldiers took three computers from the home, as well as digital memory devices, CDs and several paper files.

According to Al-Jallad, the Israeli officer questioning him said he and dozens of other Jerusalem leaders were being observed, that all activities in Jerusalem were being monitored – particularly those in the Al-Aqsa Mosque – and that no political or cultural activities would be permitted to go ahead without express permission from Israeli police.

“The officer even mocked our slogan, ‘Al-Aqsa in Danger,’” Al-Jallad said, referring to the campaign launched by Jerusalem religious and community leaders encouraging Palestinians to visit Jerusalem and particularly to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosue in the Old City.

Earlier that morning Israeli forces raided a warehouse used by Jerusalem community groups and event organizers. According to Al-Jallah, Israeli forces vandalized material used for cultural events and seized some goods.

“Israeli forces cannot terrify our children and cannot prevent us from doing our duty for Jerusalem…We will continue our program and activities by God’s will,” Al-Jallal said.

This is the second time in as many months that Israeli forces have broken into Al-Jallad’s home.