It is not the first time Israel has arrested or detained Palestinian activists. But the massive arrests made since the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas (agreed to end the recent cycle of violence) may counteract this.
The arrests of Palestinian activists and journalists this time rekindle a long-standing peaceful resistance and launch a new generation of Palestinian icons struggling to protect their homes, as well as defend self-determination.
Palestinians, however, said Israeli police arrested those who had protested peacefully with the undeclared but obvious goal crush the impulse of his movement, which has picked up pace over the past month.
Israeli police could have ruled in favor of the Palestinians by arresting Muna al-Kurd. The 23-year-old activist had been highlighting the order of an Israeli court that his family and several others were expelled by force. their houses in Sheikh Jarrah – a neighborhood in the heart of East Jerusalem. His twin brother, Mohammed al-Kurd, was also summoned and questioned by police.
His arrests came a day after an Al Jazeera Media Network journalist Givara Budeiri, was briefly arrested while reporting Sheikh Jarrah.
Although the brothers were later released, their arrests will only add momentum to their struggle. Its history reflects the history of the dispossession of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and is gaining much more prominence now.
Muna and Mohammed were barely 11 years old in 2009 when Jewish settlers settled in their home in Sheikh Jarrah and took half of them according to another court order at the time.
His father had been forced to leave his ancestral home in Haifa in 1948 and was resettled in Sheikh Jarrah in 1956 by Jordan and the United Nations refugee agency in exchange for renouncing his refugee status.
Muna and Mohammed not only inherited a generational trauma, but were forced to share a home with strangers. They had been campaigning against Israeli settlements since they were children, filming tensions between Palestinians and settlers, and often interviewed by international filmmakers.
But in March this year, when the court ordered his eviction from the other half of his home, the brothers suspended a fierce struggle on social media. They are seen to be behind #SaveSheikhJarrah which has been trending on Twitter.
A video clip of Muna challenging a Jewish settler, who reprimanded him for “stealing” his house, went viral online while Mohammed was interviewed by several American stations, among other international networks.
Asked in an interview on whether he supports the “violent” protests taking place in favor of the Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah, Mohammed succinctly asked a question in return: “Do you support the violent deposition of me and my family?” That clip also went viral and touched on a deal with Palestinians at home and in the diaspora.
Muna and Mohammed are examples of a new generation of influencers in Palestinian society with a large following on social media. They effectively used the medium to organize dissent and spread their message to both local and international audiences.
Anwar Mhajne, an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Stonewall College, said the sophistication of the brothers’ activism in using social media, their early age and persistence in fighting for the Palestinian cause has mobilized momentum among more activists, who also have hundreds of thousands of followers.
“Muna and Mohammed al-Kurd have been at the forefront of spreading the threat of expulsion facing Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah,” Mhajne told Al Jazeera. “Social media users gathered to support the siblings after posting a video posted by their friend showing that Muna was detained from her home in the presence of her father.”
Outside the police station, a dozen peaceful protesters were threatened stun grenades by the police force.
“The Arabic hashtag # الحرية_لمنى_الكرد, which translates into freedom for Muna al-Kurd, as well as #FreeMunaElKurd, have been widely circulated online as thousands of people reacted to the arrest of the prominent activist,” Mhajne added.
The Internet and the effective use of social media have allowed Palestinians around the world to transcend geographical separations and make themselves felt. But for those in the interior of Israel and the occupied territories, expressing your opinion remains fraught with risk for the Palestinians.
“They are an easy target of harassment by Israeli security forces and extremists,” Mhajne said, however, “their public visibility and significant monitoring on social media make it more difficult for the state to suppress. his voice “.
According to legal experts, 65 Israeli laws discriminate against Palestinians. Several of these are designed to deter them from protesting or organizing as activists on the ground.
“Since 1967, all kinds of gatherings of more than a few people, all organizers, all demonstrations or any raising of Palestinian or party flags, have been banned in the occupied territories,” said Rashid Khalidi, a Palestinian-American historian of modern history. Middle East at Columbia University.
“These acts are considered ‘terrorism’ and can be punished with imprisonment and fines through a system of military injustice in which judges and prosecutors belong to the occupying army and the conviction is virtually automatic.”
Fadi Quran, West Bank-based community organizer and campaign manager for a nonprofit called Avaaz, said that while the arrests are trying to shift energy on the street from “proactive action to a space of defense and fear,” they are also adding credibility to some of the youth leaders.
“Palestinian youth activism is having a renaissance as this generation feels a deep sense of agency,” the Koran said. “Recent events have only increased momentum and growth, which is why Israeli security forces go into excess to try to kill that energy through mass arrests, as well as increased use of violence“.
It remains to be seen how successful the young Palestinian generation will be in achieving their goals. But as its popularity increases, both in Palestine and in the West, it is clear that Israel’s arrest campaign may have scored an own goal.
It would be difficult for Israeli forces to convince the world that Muna or Mohammed al-Kurd or Al Jazeera journalist assaulted and stopped the violence or violence.