Jerusalem24– This year’s so-called flag march on Jerusalem Day witnessed an unprecedented increase in the level of violence and number of assaults by settlers and Israeli forces, according to lawyers.
Lawyer Firas Jebrini from Wadi Hilweh Information Center, who was one of several lawyers volunteering to assist Palestinians who may be arrested on Jerusalem Day, tells Jerusalem24, “We have never seen this aggressiveness in attacks and this kind of violence before on this day, violence by the settlers, and Israeli forces.”
A “preventative arrest campaign” was initiated by the Israeli forces ahead of the planned flag march on Thursday and Friday of the week before. Jebrini says seven people were arrested before the march and later discharged with no conditions after a court battle, where it was found the charges directed at the seven detainees were invalid and their arrests arbitrary.
“This [the discharge] was used as an argument by Palestinian lawyers in court when dealing with some of the detention cases over the following days,” says Jebrini.
Around 70 Palestinians were detained on Jerusalem Day around Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Old City, according to Jebrini. Many were assaulted by police during their arrest. A number of the Palestinian detainees “were released on the spot after being detained,” while the rest were taken to detention centers and their cases transferred to court.
“During the process of arrest and detention, there was a very aggressive assault and the process of detention included severe assault and most attacks were directed on the upper bodies of the detainees, some of them had health and medical conditions, but that did not stop them from assaulting them while detaining them. “
The volunteer lawyers from Jerusalem managed to secure the release of around 20 detainees the next day and the same on Tuesday. As of Wednesday, the remaining detainees were yet to be released.
According to local sources and in scenes widely documented on social media, both Israeli police and settlers attacked Palestinians, Palestinian shops and private property, as well as members of the press reporting on the flag march.
A statement released by the Israeli Prime Minister’s office on the day of the march said “Prime Minister Bennett recently instructed the security forces, especially the Israeli police, to show zero tolerance for violence or provocations by extremist elements […] in Jerusalem. […] Any case of violence will be dealt with to the fullest extent, including prosecution.”
Jebrini concludes: “This year was different from the other years, this year witnessed very aggressive assaults by the Israeli settlers and Israeli forces.”
“The settlers and Israeli forces were in collaboration of this violence, and they were public and open about it, we have never seen anything like it before. “