Israeli police briefly detain prominent Palestinian activist twins from East Jerusalem

Prominent Palestinian activist Muna El-Kurd sits in the courtyard of her house in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

Israeli police detained two prominent Palestinian activists on Sunday who have become the faces of a campaign to halt Palestinian evictions from the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

Footage on social media on Sunday showed Muna El-Kurd, 23, whose family faces eviction from their home in Sheikh Jarrah after Jewish settlers won an Israeli court ruling, handcuffed and being escorted from her home by Israeli officers.

Her twin brother, Mohammed El-Kurd, later turned himself in at a police station after receiving a summons, their father said. Both were released hours later, he added.

Without explicitly naming Muna El-Kurd, an Israeli police spokeswoman said police had arrested a 23-year-old resident of East Jerusalem under court order, on suspicion of participating in riots that took place in Sheikh Jarrah recently.

The police did not immediately comment on Mohammed El-Kurd, who was later shown in a live Instagram video leaving the station, accompanied by father Nabil El-Kurd.

Their supporters said the twins’ detention was part of a broader Israeli effort to halt opposition to the evictions in Sheikh Jarrah, where Jewish settlers want to move into the El-Kurds’ home and others under court order.

“It’s clear that these are policies to silence people, policies to pressure and scare people,” Muna El-Kurd said in a statement on the Sheikh Jarrah Instagram page after her release.

Anger over the proposed evictions helped spark 11 days of violence in May between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza, whose Islamist rulers Hamas have called Israeli policy in East Jerusalem a “red line”.

The detentions came a day after police in Sheikh Jarrah arrested a reporter with Qatar-based media network Al Jazeera who had been covering a protest there. read more

In October last year an Israeli court ruled in favour of Jewish settlers, who say some eight Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah are living on land that used to belong to Jews.

Palestinians are appealing the decision in Israel’s Supreme Court, and the evictions are currently on hold.

Tensions could flare further in Jerusalem this week when a Jewish right-wing march is expected to pass through the Old City’s Damascus gate. A similar march, its route diverted at the last minute, was held the same day that the Israel-Gaza fighting broke out.

Israel captured East Jerusalem, along with the West Bank and Gaza, in the 1967 Middle East war. Palestinians are seeking the territories for a future state.

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