Middle East Eye / May 14, 2021
Arrest of vice president of Islamic organization comes after Israeli intelligence officers texted threats to Palestinians warning them against taking part in protests.
Israeli police on Friday arrested Kamal al-Khatib, vice president of the Islamic Movement, after storming his house in the Palestinian town of Kafr Kanna in Galilee, Israel, according to local media.
Meanwhile, a number of Palestinian demonstrators were seriously wounded in Kafr Kanna after Israeli forces attacked them with live ammunition and rubber bullets when they arrived to stage a protest in the vicinity of Sheikh Khatib’s house during and after his arrest, according to reports and footage by the local Arab48 website.
Khatib’s son told Al-Jazeera Arabic that Israeli forces entered the home violently, following a large crackdown on protesters in the area.
The arrest came after Palestinians warned that a number of prominent activists had received messages from Israeli intelligence officers threatening protesters.
“Many people got a text message, including influential protesters, saying that they were recorded as being present at Al-Aqsa and they would be held accountable,” Khatib’s son said.
In recent weeks, Israeli forces have used live ammunition, skunk water and tear gas to disperse protesters in a number of cities in Israeli, resulting in scores of injuries.
Netanyahu promises police impunity
Earlier this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered militarized border police units to reinforce regular officers on the ground in an attempt to deal with the protests.
“We will reinforce them as necessary in order to maintain law and order in the state of Israel,” Netanyahu said.
The Likud leader has also deployed soldiers to cities where the unrest is at its most intense and has warned “rioters” that they will be subject to administrative detention. Such detention is normally used to hold Palestinians in the occupied West Bank for months without charge or trial.
“Our goal is to bring results and to bring them quickly,” Netanyahu said, in a speech in which he also told police officers not to fear disciplinary action for their behaviour.
“We are hearing [police officers’] whispers about fears of inquiry committees,” he said. “We will give you all the tools. You have the support, don’t be afraid.”