As Israeli forces continued to enforce a fierce security crackdown following a deadly attack in occupied East Jerusalem last week that saw three Palestinian assailants shot dead at the scene, Israeli forces detained the mother of one of the slain Palestinians as well as a man suspected of transporting the three young men that day.
After it was revealed that the three alleged assailants — Baraa Ibrahim Saleh, 18, Adel Hassan Ahmad Ankoush, 18, and Usama Ahmad Ata, 19 — were from the occupied West Bank village of Deir Abu Mashaal, the town was subsequently placed under lockdown, and has been subjected to multiple military raids since.
The initial military raid sparked clashes that saw Israeli soldiers shoot and injure two locals, as Israeli forces took measurements of the homes of the three slain Palestinians to prepare to punitively demolish them.
According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, a total of 22 people, the three men’s family members, will be left homeless by the punitive demolitions in spite of not having been charged with any wrongdoing.
However, Israeli police have now claimed that Adel Anoush’s mother Zeinab “is suspected to be a supporter of a terrorist group and suspected for planning to conduct a crime,” according to police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri.
After the attack, both the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Hamas movement, and later the Fatah movement, claimed partial responsibility for the attack. Saleh and Ata were said to be PFLP members, while Adel Ankoush was said to be a member of Hamas. Unconfirmed reports later said Ata was affiliated to Fatah.
Muhammad Mahmoud, an attorney from the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, said that Israeli forces detained Zeinab Ankoush after raiding her home in Deir Abu Mashaal and transferred her for interrogation at the Russian compound detention center in Jerusalem.
Al-Samri, the police spokesperson, said in written statement in Arabic that investigations continued into the “double terrorist attack,” either referring to the fact that the incident occurred at two separate sites outside of Jerusalem’s Old City or that it was combined gun and knife attack — in which one Israeli border policewoman was fatally stabbed.
Another officer was lightly injured, and at least two Palestinian bystanders were wounded by being caught in the ensuing shootout when Israeli forces opened fire “haphazardly” in the area, as witnesses said at the time.
Al-Samri said that Israeli police had also “recently” detained a Palestinian from the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of al-Issawiya, “who is suspected to have transferred the terrorists to the area.”
“Investigations are still ongoing to uncover if he knew (the assailants’) intentions and if he did, why he did not prevented them (from carrying out the attack),” she said. The two suspects, Zeinab and the unidentified driver, will be brought before an Israeli court where police will request to extend their detention, she added.
As a punitive reaction to the attack that has been denounced as “collective punishment,” Palestinians with West Bank IDs were rounded up in Jerusalem and sent home on special Israeli police buses after the Israeli prime minister revoked 250,000 family visitation permits that had been issued for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan — though Israeli authorities said the three assailants had entered the city “illegality,” without such permits.
Meanwhile, main streets and business in around Jerusalem’s Old City, where the killings occurred, have been forced to close, with the security measures expected to remain in force until the end of Ramadan.
Israeli forces have long been the target of harsh condemnation for their response to attacks. After a deadly attack last year in Tel Aviv, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad al-Hussein said the Israeli response “may amount to collective punishment and will only increase the sense of injustice and frustration felt by Palestinians in this very tense time.”
“The measures taken against the broader population punish not the perpetrators of the crime, but tens — maybe hundreds — of thousands of innocent Palestinians.”