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Sheikh Jarrah: Israel's arrest of outspoken Jerusalem activists sparks outrage

Social media users have rallied to the support of the al-Kurd siblings after they were arrested by Israeli forces on Sunday
The twins Muna and Mohammed al-Kurd have been crucial in raising international awareness about imminent forced evictions of their area's Palestinian residents (Screengrab/Twitter)

The arrest and brief detention of Palestinian activists and writers Muna al-Kurd and Mohammed al-Kurd in Jerusalem on Sunday has sparked popular and international outrage. 

The twins, who both face the threat of displacement from their family home, have become the voice of the online campaign to halt the imminent evictions of Palestinian residents from the flashpoint East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah. 

Videos posted by friends of the al-Kurds showed Muna being detained from her home in the presence of her father by armed Israeli police forces, while Mohammed showed up hours later at the local police station after receiving a summons warrant. 

They were both released later that day.

Online, scores of social media users rallied to the support of the al-Kurd siblings following the news of their arrest.

The Arabic hashtag #الحرية_لمنى_الكرد, which translates to freedom for Muna al-Kurd, as well as #FreeMunaalKurd, have been widely circulated online as thousands reacted to the arrest of the prominent activist. 

With a collective social media following of over one million people, both Mohammed and Muna have established themselves as sources of evidence of Israeli aggression against Palestinians in Jerusalem.

Many have noted how crucial Muna al-Kurd has been in sharing updates and information directly from Sheikh Jarrah and Jerusalem on her Instagram account which has so far amassed 1.3 million followers.

Meanwhile, Mohammed has been active on his Twitter account, uploading videos and live updates from Jerusalem, all the while making appearances on international news outlets such as Middle East EyeCNN, CBS News, and AJ+ for which he has been widely praised online.

On social media, users have highlighted how important the al-Kurd siblings have been in raising awareness on a global scale and calling for their immediate release. 

Others have suggested that the arrests of the al-Kurds are a continuation of Israel’s attempt to silence Palestinian voices, noting that without the siblings, direct updates from the area are almost non-existent

Many have sympathised with the twins’ father, Nabil al-Kurd as an image of him sat in front of the police station, waiting for his children to be released has widely circulated online.

Generally, social media users are rallying for the release of the siblings, with some even providing the phone number of the police station in which Muna and Mohammed are held, asking people to phone and demand their release. 

Both widely active online, Muna and Mohammed al-Kurd have been at the forefront of recent activism, battling against the threat of an imminent court ruling that would see Palestinian occupants in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood displaced from their homes to give way to Israeli settlers.

The siblings have spent their lives defending their home in Sheikh Jarrah from Israeli settlers. In a home-style video uploaded nine years ago to the YouTube channel of The Guardian, teenagers Mohammed and Muna show their lives in their neighbourhood.

In a previous interview, Muna told Middle East Eye, “I will not leave my home in Sheikh Jarrah.” Meanwhile, Mohammed insisted “we’re not leaving our rightful homes”.

In October 2020, an Israeli court ruled in favour of Israeli settlers who claim that some eight Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah are living on land that used to belong to Jews.

Palestinians have appealed the decision at Israel's Supreme Court, and the evictions are currently on hold.

On Sunday 9 May the Supreme Court hearing on the evictions was postponed. A new session is due on 8 June. 

Meanwhile, Israeli forces aggressively clamped down on solidarity protests in Sheikh Jarrah and other Palestinian towns in Israel last month, and raided al-Aqsa Mosque. In retaliation, Hamas fired rockets into Israel, and Israel pummelled Gaza with bombs.

At least 248 Palestinians were killed by the Israeli bombardment of Gaza, while 29 were killed in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem by Israeli forces. Another two Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed by Israeli fire in the same period. 

In Israel, rockets fired from Gaza killed at least 12 people.