Israeli police detained a journalist for 40 minutes and threw a stun grenade at a Haaretz photographer at the scene on Wednesday night during raids in the East Jerusalem Palestinian neighborhood of Isawiyah.
The police also detained two members of Isawiyah's parents committee after the committee declared that the neighborhood's children should not be sent to school until the ongoing police crackdown in the neighborhood, which began two and a half months ago, is over.
Wednesday night a large contingent of police came to Isawiyah on patrol and to show a police presence. Several hours later, when the police were on the way out of the neighborhood, those present began throwing stones at them. Young men there also threw a firebomb and shot fireworks at the police, although there were no injuries.
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At that stage, the police began dispersing the crowd of Palestinian residents, Israeli left-wing activists and journalists who were standing on the street. Video footage and witness accounts suggest that the police acted aggressively even against those who were not involved in the stone-throwing.
One policeman forcefully pushed Omar Atiya, a leading neighborhood activist and chairman of the Isawiyah parents committee. In another incident, a policeman threw a stun grenade at Haaretz photographer Emil Salman, even though no one was in the photographer's vicinity at the time.
The police spokesman's office said in response that "Media crews had been asked to move away from the area due to concern over loss of life. The Israel Police [wish to] make it clear that the police are permitting and will continue to permit the journalistic activity of media personnel in Isawiyah in addition to preventing loss of life.
"Dozens of lawbreakers disturbed the peace, throwing firebombs and stones at police and media people who were at the scene. Media crews were asked to move away from the scene due to concern over loss of life," the police statement said.
For his part, Salman, the Haaretz photographer, said: "The police dispersed the people and I was standing in the yard of a house and filming. The police saw that I had a large camera and also had seen me previously. It was impossible to mistake [the fact] that am a journalist."
In a video clip that Salman shot, one of the policemen can be heard saying "throw [it] at him, throw," after which the stun grenade was thrown at the photographer, who was alone on the street at the time. Salman said the policeman had clearly seen him and threw the grenade while the photographer was standing up and was not hiding.
Around the same time, the police demanded that a crew from Channel 13 television leave the site. Police drone camera footage shows the crew arguing with the police but they were complying with the police request and moving up the street. Nevertheless, about a minute later, a policeman approached Channel 13 reporter Yossi Eli and informed him that he was being arrested.
"He tells me you're arrested and begins to read me my rights," Eli recounted later, and was put into a police car. "After half an hour, one of the officers said 'He's Israeli. Let him go,' and then the policeman let me out of the cruiser and told me 'Get out of Isawiyah. If not, I'm arresting you.'"
Later police arrested two members of the Isawiyah parents committee, Asar Darwish and Mohammed Faiz Mahmoud, on suspicion of threatening school principals in advance of the school strike. Residents claimed that it was an effort to break the strike.
In their statement, the Israel Police said they have been dealing on an almost daily basis with violent disturbances of the peace in Isawiyah that have been directed not only at the police but at Israeli civilians. The enforcement action by the police in recent weeks has also sharply reduced the level of violence in the neighborhood, the police said.
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