Earlier this month two Palestinians in East Jerusalem were arrested by Israeli forces after refusing to obey orders banning them from their city. My brother, Samer Abu Eisheh, was one of them.
His arrest is part of a crackdown on Palestinian resistance against the Israeli occupation’s policies.
Samer is an activist in East Jerusalem. He was arrested at his house and interrogated for 44 days after returning from a youth conference in Lebanon last July.
They were trying to link his activism to the fact that he went to Lebanon. But at the end of 44 days of interrogation the only charge was visiting an enemy state.
Samer was released to house arrest for two and a half months. After that the Israelis banned him from East Jerusalem for five months. They said that he is a danger to the security of the city.
About 65 Palestinians from Jerusalem face arbitrary banning orders because Israel considers their existence in the city a danger.
But Samer refused to leave and started a protest at the International Centre for the Red Cross (ICRC) in East Jerusalem.
For eight days people came to support them. Supporters erected a tent which became a hub for social and cultural activities. There were political lectures and film showings.
On New Year’s Eve people came to sing and play music for the whole night instead of celebrating outside.
But just after midnight on the eighth day about 100 Israeli soldiers broke into the compound and arrested six people, including Samer and Hijazi Abu Sbeih.
Now they are trying to convict them both with new charges of “provocation” because of all the gatherings and the activities that took place in the tent at the ICRC as well as some Facebook comments and tweets.
It shows how worried Israel is about any kind of protesting in Jerusalem.
There have been so many protests recently. Lots of martyrs have fallen in East Jerusalem and the Israelis are keeping their bodies as a kind of collective punishment.
And there have been protests outside the Al Aqsa mosque. Muslims have been stopped from entering the mosque between 7 and 11 in the morning and only Jewish people are allowed inside.
Lots of people are protesting at the doors, and these people are being arrested, being humiliated, being dragged along the street.
And any time you try to peacefully protest, if you gather more than 40 people, immediately lots of forces will come and thrash everybody.
Some desperate people have also committed some stabbing attacks.
I’m peaceful. But I can understand when people are subjected to a lot of violence it’s normal to respond with more violence. It is matter of pure psychology.
It’s important to start looking at Palestinians as people who are under occupation.
Everybody who lives under occupation has the right to defend their right to liberty and freedom in any possible way.
Jerusalem is a very difficult situation. The Palestinians who live in Jerusalem don’t have full rights as Israeli citizens—despite the fact that they have been completely rooted in Jerusalem for generations.
There is a heavy presence of soldiers in the city who can arbitrarily stop anyone and check them, check their clothes, their bags. They’ve installed metal detectors in every corner of the Old City.
Palestinians are subjected to all these things on a daily basis.
That’s the whole thing about Samer’s case. They have no charge against him.
He is just a guy who is trying peacefully to deliver his thoughts about liberty.