(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Jawad Siyam, the director of a community center in east Jerusalem’s Silwan
neighborhood and a prominent international activist, was detained by police on
Tuesday and will remain in custody until at least Friday, his co-workers told
The Jerusalem Post.
Police detained Siyam after a Silwan resident
complained that Siyam had attacked him, Jerusalem Police spokesman Shmuel
Ben-Ruby told the Post on Wednesday.
Siyam’s co-workers called the
allegation a “gross fabrication” and said he is taken-in for questioning about
every four or five months, and usually stays in detention for a few days at a
Siyam is one of the more prominent activists in Silwan, appearing
on major international news networks, including on CBS’s 60 Minutes, to provide
the Arab residents’ point of view on the contested area around the archeological
sites of the City of David. He is regularly in touch with European leaders, and
representatives of the European Union were at a hearing on Wednesday when the
court extended his detention until Friday, his co-workers said.
worker trained in Germany and Turkey, Siyam is a cofounder of the Wadi Hilweh
Information Center and the Madaa Community Center.
Founded in 2007, the
only community center in Silwan has grown from serving 35 children to providing
450 children with a variety of programming and hosting theater groups, a
computer center and a library.
The Wadi Hilweh Information Center is a
controversial website that provides updates about Silwan to an international
audience in English.
The information center, whose reports have a
decidedly anti-Israel slant, operates out of a Beduin-style tent in front of the
community center and has many of the same employees as the community center. The
site is about 150 meters down the street from the entrance to the City of David
archeological park and is supposed to serve as an alternative information and
tourism center for the area.
Madaa, which means “horizon” in Arabic, is
supported by donations for European organizations, and does not accept money
from the government, the Palestinian Authority or the European
Siyam was arrested in front of 15 children during a class on
Tuesday in the community center, said Muna Hasan, the public relations
coordinator for the Wadi Hilweh Information Center.
Three policemen burst
into the classroom, she said.
Siyam’s arrest comes after a restraining
order against another prominent activist in Silwan, Adnan Geith, who will have
to leave Jerusalem for four months starting next Wednesday after the IDF Home
Front Command served him with a restraining order in November.