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Sheikh Jarrah: Israeli assault on Palestinian with Down syndrome sparks outrage

Muhammad al-Ajlouni, 25, was taken to hospital after Israeli officers forcefully tried to detain him in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood on Monday
Israeli forces grabbed Muhammad al-Ajlouni in an attempt to arrest him in East Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood on Monday (Screengrab)
Israeli forces grabbed Muhammad al-Ajlouni in an attempt to arrest him in East Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood on Monday (Screengrab)

A video clip showing Israeli forces manhandling a Palestinian man with Down syndrome on Monday in the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah has sparked outrage.

In footage widely circulated online, Israeli officers forcefully grabbed Muhammad al-Ajlouni in an attempt to arrest him during a demonstration outside the Salem family home who are facing imminent court-ordered expulsion to make way for Israeli settlers.  

Ajlouni is seen panicking and screaming before several Palestinian protesters surround the officers and try to free the 25-year-old. 

Muhammad Dannoun, a paramedic on the scene, told Al Jazeera that five security forces severely beat Ajlouni, and that he would have been arrested if not for the intervention of locals. 

A later video shows the young man being taken away by a Palestine Red Crescent Society ambulance. Dannoun said that Ajlouni had suffered from a state of panic, as well as pain in the neck and shoulders following his treatment at the hands of the officers.

The footage of the assault was widely shared and condemned online. 

“Israeli state violence is cruel and does not care about a Palestinian’s age, gender, or ability. All Palestinians are seen as a threat,” tweeted If Not Now, a US-based Jewish rights group. 

Husam Zomlot, the head of Palestine’s mission in the UK, posted the video with the caption: “How low can you sink?” 

The Palestinian man with special needs lives in Wadi al-Joz, a neighbourhood in East Jerusalem close to Sheikh Jarrah, where the plight of families threatened with imminent eviction has gained international attention. 

According to eyewitnesses quoted in local media, he was attending a wedding organised near the al-Saow and Salem homes in solidarity with the families.  

Last week, Israeli settlers stormed Sheikh Jarrah ahead of the reopening of far-right Knesset member Itamar Ben-Gvir’s office on land belonging to a Palestinian family. 

Dozens of settlers set up a tent on the Salem family land, who are facing expulsion, and clashed with residents and supporters, injuring 73-year-old owner Fatima Salem among others. 

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.