Police yesterday arrested the owner of a houseware store in Jerusalem’s Old City where an alleged terrorist purchased the two knives he used in an attack on two members of the Border Police on Friday. Also detained with Said Abu Sneneh, the owner of the store, were his 9-year-old son and his nephew, aged 16. The younger boy was released two hours later, while Abu Sneneh and his nephew were held overnight and released Saturday morning.
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Abu Sneneh’s store is on Hagai Street in the Muslim Quarter, not far from Damascus Gate where the two policewomen were on duty when they were stabbed.
“They asked me if I sell knives. I showed them the knives. I told them it’s a houseware store,” Anu Sneneh said. “They asked me to close the store and they took me and my son and my nephew.”
During questioning Abu Sneneh was asked whether he had sold the knives to the terrorist. He told them the man, who he remembered because of the yellow shirt he was wearing, came into his store twice. According to Abu Sneneh, the man bought a set of six fruit knives and a set of spoons.
“They asked me what I thought about the struggle against the State of Israel and I said I was just a shop owner and did not care about such things. They asked if I sold him the knives and I asked them if there is a law against selling knives.”
Before his release on Saturday morning, Abu Sneneh was told to sign a document prohibiting him from entering the Old City for seven days. He said the document stated that he would be liable for a 5,000-shekel fine ($1,323) if caught in the Old City. He was not given a copy of the document.
The left-wing advocacy organization Ir Amim says it sees a connection between Abu Sneneh’s arrest and the policy of collective punishment implemented in East Jerusalem by the city’s police chief, Maj. Gen. Yoram Halevi, after Friday’s attack, when Halevi closed dozens of stores in the area. Such action “would not bring quiet and would only increase frustration and despair in the city,” Ir Amim said.
The police responded that the arrests were made in the context of the recent stabbings in East Jerusalem, in which two police personnel were seriously wounded, and the ongoing investigation into the attacks. “The police are taking all steps necessary to establish facts and collect evidence in their investigation of the attacks,”the statement said.
“The police reject the claim that they are punishing residents, emphasizing that they investigate all incidents in which there is a suspicion of criminality, all the more so in a terror attack in which police carrying out their security duties were seriously injured.”