Police arrest 'iconic' twin Palestinian activists from Sheikh Jarrah

The detentions comes a day after police in Sheikh Jarrah arrested a reporter with Qatar-based media network Al Jazeera who had been covering a protest there.

Male hands arrested with handcuffs in Criminal concept (illustrative) (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Male hands arrested with handcuffs in Criminal concept (illustrative)
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Police on Sunday arrested Muna al-Kurd, 23, a prominent activist from the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, on suspicion of “participating in disturbing the peace and in riots.”
Her twin brother, Mohammad, was also arrested on the same charges.
Al-Kurd and her brother were released late Sunday night, hours after they were taken into custody.
Over the past few weeks, the two became the voices of the Arab families facing eviction orders from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah. They posted several videos on social-media platforms that documented protests and clashes between Palestinian activists and the police.
The Kurd siblings have also appeared in dozens of interviews with various media outlets and organizations around the world to speak about the Sheikh Jarrah dispute.
Muna al-Kurd has 1.2 million followers on Instagram.
She and her brother describe themselves as journalists and are said to be behind the popular social-media hashtag #SaveSheikhJarrah, which has been trending for several weeks.
Late last month, Muna al-Kurd delivered a speech at the United Nations Human Rights Council during a session on “the grave human rights situation in the occupied territory, including east Jerusalem.
Israeli authorities refused to properly examine the property rights of the Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah, she said.
“The police raided our home and handcuffed Muna,” said her father, Nabil al-Kurd. “The police officers followed her into the room when she went to change her clothes before they took her away. They didn’t even allow her to brush her teeth.”
The police officers searched the home of his son, Mohammad, who was not present at the time his sister was taken into custody. The brother later handed himself over to the police.
“The police think that the arrests will silence our people and stop the campaign [against the Sheikh Jarrah evictions],” Nabil al-Kurd said. “But the people and the shabab [youth] of Jerusalem will not be silenced. They will continue to talk about the Palestinian cause and how Israel stole our lands.”
Muna al-Kurd was arrested one day after she was seen filming the detention of Al-Jazeera Arabic reporter Givara Budeiri by the police at Sheikh Jarrah. Budeiri was released a few hours later.
It was not clear whether Muna al-Kurd’s arrest was connected to the incident involving Budeiri.
Several Palestinian activists gathered outside the Shalem police station in east Jerusalem to protest against the arrests of the Kurd siblings. They also chanted slogans in support of al-Aqsa Mosque.
The arrests of Muna and Mohammad al-Kurd would not deter the Palestinians from continuing the campaign to resist the planned eviction, said Ahmed Mansour, a friend of the Kurd family.
The eviction orders were issued earlier this year by the Jerusalem District Court. At the request of the attorney-general, the Supreme Court last month delayed until further notice a session to look into the case.
“Muna and Mohammad are the symbols of the Palestinian struggle in Jerusalem,” Mansour said, adding that he and his friends would continue to hold daily protests at Sheikh Jarrah “to prevent Jewish settlers from taking our homes.”
The Palestinian Authority’s ruling Fatah faction and Hamas condemned the arrest of the Kurd siblings and called for their immediate release.
The arrests are a “crime that reflects the mentality of ethnic cleansing and apartheid,” Fatah spokesman Osama Qawassmeh said.
The arrests of Muna and her brother “reflect the ugly face of the state of occupation and its breaches of international laws,” said Abdel Latif al-Qanou, a spokesman for Hamas in the Gaza Strip.