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Dozens arrested in Jerusalem in Israeli crackdown on Palestinian Authority

Members of Fatah and PA's security forces arrested as Israeli control expands over occupied East Jerusalem
A member of the Palestinian security forces stands in front of a poster President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, 26 September (AFP).

Israel's military police on Monday morning arrested dozens of Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem, in a crackdown against members of the Fatah movement and the Palestinian Authority's security forces. 

Israeli forces arrested 32 Palestinians, after breaking into their homes, and seized cash, documents, photos, Palestinian police-issued credentials, uniforms and ammunition.

The detainees will be investigated by a unit in the Jerusalem District Police on charges of serving in the PA's security forces.

Israel is escalating against the Palestinian Authority's presence after the US moved its emabssy to the city

Ziad Hammouri, Jerusalem's centre for social and economic rights

Ziad Hammouri, director of Jerusalem's centre for social and economic rights, told Middle East Eye that the arrest campaign was part of Israel's attempts to fully control East Jerusalem, which international law regards as an occupied territory.

"Israel is escalating against the PA's presence after the US moved its embassy to the city. The PA presence in Jerusalem isn't new, and residents of the city working in the PA's security forces are well-known and no one tried to hide it," Hammouri said.

He said that the Israeli authorities in the city wanted to cut any ties between the PA and East Jerusalem.

"The PA's presence in Jerusalem manifests itself in helping the residents in cases against the Israeli authorities, whether demolished houses, paying for lawyers, solving disputes between Palestinians in the city, and attending symbolic ceremonies by PA officials and the Jerusalem governor," Hammouri said.

The arrests come after Israeli police arrested Adnan Ghaith, the Palestinian governor of Jerusalem, on Saturday for the second time in recent months, leading Palestinians to demonstrate in Salah al-Deen Street in East Jerusalem against this move.

The Israeli magistrate court in Jerusalem extended Ghaith's detention until Thursday at noon.

Judge Chavi Toker was presented with secret evidence and said the reason for his arrest was "an unlawful" collaboration with the PA's security forces, which Israel says violates the Oslo accords of 1993.

No further details were given.

"Israel is doing two things now: demographically, it's pushing Palestinians out of Jerusalem by any means, and second it is escalating the Judaisation of Jerusalem, especially after Trump gave them the green light," Hammouri said.

In a statement, the spokesperson of Palestinian security forces, Adnan al-Dumairy, condemned the arrests, saying the will of Palestinians in Jerusalem would stay strong.

Property sale

On 20 October, Gheith was detained for two days of questioning before being released, with Israel's Shin Bet domestic security agency saying it was over "illegal activity by the PA in Jerusalem".

He was also taken for questioning a number of times in recent weeks and his office was raided on 4 November.

The PA's Jerusalem affairs minister, Adnan al-Husseini, has also been given a three-month travel ban by Israeli authorities, according to Palestinian officials.

Israeli media have reported that authorities have been investigating the governor following the PA's arrest of a man in October accused of being involved in selling property in East Jerusalem to a Jewish settler buyer.

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Sales to Israeli settlers are considered treasonous among Palestinians.

But among Israelis, there have been calls for authorities to free the man, Issam Akel, arrested by the PA over the sale.

Akel is a US citizen and Palestinian national who was detained in Ramallah for allegedly selling an apartment in the Old City to a Jewish buyer.