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Israel renews closure of 28 Palestinian NGOs in occupied East Jerusalem

Israel maintains its crackdown on institutions in the city in a policy believed to aim at curbing the Palestinian Authority's influence
Israeli security forces gather outside the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, 4 April 2022 (AFP)

Israel has renewed the closure of 28 Palestinian civil society groups in occupied East Jerusalem, including the Orient House and the Prisoners' Club offices, local media reported.

On Monday, the representatives of the Jerusalem municipality, the Shin Bet, the Ministry of Internal Security, and the army's Home Front Command arranged to extend the closure of offices of Palestinian civil society in the city during a meeting.

It is widely believed that Israel has pursued a crackdown on Palestinian institutions in the city, including schools and NGO groups, to block the Palestinian Authority (PA) from getting a foothold in East Jerusalem.

The Orient House, an iconic building in the city that once hosted the kaiser of Germany in the late 1890s, was shut down during the Second Intifada in 2001.

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Israel had attempted to close the building several times since its occupation of the city in 1967, saying that it was used as the headquarters for the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).

Israel had increased the presence of its military police in East Jerusalem as it expects tensions to rise in the city during the month of Ramadan and the Easter and Passover holidays in April.

On Tuesday, Israel released the PA's governor of Jerusalem, Adnan Gheith, after he was summoned for questioning in the morning.

Gheith is a resident of the Silwan neighbourhood. Though his role as the mayor of Jerusalem is symbolic, Israel has arrested him over 28 times and banned him since 2018 from leaving the city and meeting officials from the PA. 

He told Wafa news agency that "my arrest comes as part of the criminal series that the occupation is carrying out against our people.... we will remain on our land embodying our sovereignty despite all these measures and these dark forces."

Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980, in a move unrecognised by the majority of the international community.

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