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Palestinian governor of Jerusalem arrested by Israeli forces

Published: February 27, 2019
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Israeli police arrested Adnan Ghaith, the Palestinian governor of Jerusalem, in a dawn raid on Wednesday, according to a local NGO and local media.

"The governor was arrested in a raid on his home in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan," the Palestinian Prisoners Society said in a statement.

Ghaith was among 21 Palestinians rounded up in overnight raids carried out by Israeli forces in occupied East Jerusalem, Maan news agency reported.

Many of those rounded up were members of the Fatah movement in Jerusalem.

It remains unclear why the governor was arrested and Israeli police have yet to issue an official statement.

Ghaith, appointed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in August last year, was previously arrested several times by Israeli forces, the last of which was in November 2018.

In December, he was briefly placed under house arrest and was later banned from entering the occupied West Bank for a six-month period.

Meanwhile, Fatah spokesman Atef Abu Seif denounced Wednesday's arrests and said in a statement the move would not weaken the Palestinian people's will to fight for their land.

"The fight for Jerusalem will always be our main battle, despite the efforts of some to divert it to serve only the agenda of the occupying state," he said.

"Our people and our leadership will continue to fight [for Jerusalem] until the objectives of our national struggle are met."

The arrests come amid tensions in Jerusalem after a series of Palestinian protests and the subsequent detention of dozens of Palestinian activists by Israeli forces earlier this week.

Israeli police had also briefly detained the head of the Religious Endowments Authority Sheikh Abdelazeem Salhab, along with his deputy, after he prayed with other Palestinians near al-Rahma gate at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound for the first time in 16 years.

Palestinian protesters streamed into the area that Israel had sealed off in 2003 because it was home to a heritage organisation allegedly connected with an armed group.

The contested site, revered by Jews as the Temple Mount and by Muslims as the al-Haram al-Sharif (or the Noble Sanctuary), is at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The compound is the third-holiest site in Islam, after Mecca and Medina, and is the holiest site for Jews.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It proceeded to annex the entire city in 1980 in a move that was never recognised by the international community.

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