Mustafa Abu Sneineh
Middle East Eye / May 31, 2021
Around 1,700 Palestinian citizens of Israel have been arrested since Israel launched ‘Law and Order’ in May, says group.
On Monday, Israeli police arrested more than six Palestinian citizens of Israel, the latest round up in a campaign that has seen 1,700 Palestinians picked up since early May, according to a committee monitoring the situation.
Six people were arrested in Kafr Kanna, a Palestinian town in Israel’s north, while an as yet unknown number of Palestinians were taken into custody in the northern towns of Arara and Ara, according to local media.
Video footage circulated on social media showed Israeli military police attacking Palestinians on Sunday in Arara. Middle East Eye could not independently confirm the footage’s location and date.
The arrests are part of the Israeli police’s mass arrest campaign, called “Law and Order”, which began on 24 May after two weeks of protests in mixed cities against Israeli settlement policies in the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah and the bombardment of the Gaza Strip.
The Arab Emergency Committee, which was formed in the wake of the protests in early May, said it has documented that, in addition to the arrest of 1,700 Palestinians who hold Israeli citizenship, there have been 300 related cases of assault.
Around 100 Palestinian citizens of Israel have been arrested daily since the campaign began, the committee said, and some of them were released later.
The police launched the campaign after concluding that their power of deterrence had been severely damaged among the Palestinian community inside Israel, after confrontations in mixed cities including Lod – known as Lydd to Palestinians – Acre and Haifa.
Israeli police and media reports indicated that the crackdown, an attempt to re-impose “deterrence”, would last for 48 hours. It has instead continued over the past week.
Several political leaders and activists have been swept up in the campaign and now face trials, including Kamal al-Khatib, vice president of the Islamic Movement in Israel and a member of the Arab Follow-Up Committee, who has been charged for “incitement to terrorism”.
On Monday, an Israeli court extended the detention of two friends of Mohammad Kiwan, a Palestinian from the northern town of Umm al-Fahm who was shot by Israeli police on 12 May and later succumbed to his wounds in a hospital in Haifa.
Israeli police accused Kiwan’s friends of attempting a “car-ramming operation” near the junction of the Israeli town Mei Ami, about two kilometres from Umm al-Fahm.
The lawyer for the two friends said their trial was “political”, according to local news site Arab48. He asked Israeli police to present the court with video footage from the Mei Ami junction. The police replied that cameras were not working at that time.
Kiwan was the second Palestinian citizen of Israel to have been killed in May. In Lod, Mousa Hassouna was also killed during a confrontation with far-right Israelis backed by settlers from the occupied West Bank.
Human rights groups have condemned the mass arrest campaign of Israel’s 1.9 million Palestinian citizens, who descend from those who avoided the mass expulsion of Palestinians during Israel’s creation in 1948 and comprise one-fifth of the country’s population.
Last week, War on Want, Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights, and Amnesty International sent a letter to UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, urging the British government “to investigate patterns of serious violations and abuse by Israeli authorities, with particular attention to the right to life and the prohibition on torture and ill-treatment under international human rights law”.
The rights groups said that they have monitored various violations committed by Israeli authorities inside Israel, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
These violations include Israel’s use of “excessive force, arbitrary arrest of lawyers and human rights observers, arrest and detention of minors,” and the blatant support of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “encouraging Israeli authorities to use an ‘iron fist‘ in the repression of protests,” the letter said.
Mustafa Abu Sneineh – journalist, poet and staff writer at Middle East Eye