Israeli forces detained eight Palestinian children overnight Wednesday and during the day Thursday in occupied East Jerusalem, a watchdog said.
The Silwan-based Wadi Hilweh Information Center told Ma’an that Israeli forces detained Amer Siam, 12, Sultan Shweiki, 12 and Raed Mansour 16, in the Silwan neighborhood on Wednesday evening.
A group of Israeli soldiers reportedly stepped out of a security vehicle which typically patrols the area in order to guard settlers living in a nearby illegal outpost, the center said, before making the arrests.
During the Silwan arrest raid, the center added that Israeli forces searched the home of Muhammed Badr, taking down Islamic flags and shredding them before taking his photo.
Twelve-year-old Yazan al-Bannamwas was detained in the neighborhood of al-Tur, while Mohammed Houshia and Mohammed Swiety, both eleven years of age, were detained in Jerusalem’s Old City, the center added.
In the late evening Israeli forces reportedly stormed the Al-Maqsid Hospital, located in the Mount of Olives, and inspected several wards looking for injured Palestinians.
The following morning, Israeli forces were deployed in the Ras al-Amud neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, meters away from Silwan’s primary and junior schools for boys. The forces reportedly chased the students and detained several, firing sound bombs towards the students.
The Wadi Hilweh Information Center said that when a group of Israeli forces tried to break into Silwan’s junior school, the administrative staff and teachers intervened and confronted them in order to protect the students.
The center said that Israeli forces detained Hamza Rajabi, 13, and Youssef Salah, 13, after assaulting the students and preventing them from reaching school.
Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld told Ma’an that “suspects” arrested in East Jerusalem were “involved in riots and disturbances in different neighborhoods,” without commenting further on the detention of minors.
Palestinian children 12 years and older can be tried and sentenced to prison by Israeli military courts, a practice that has received international condemnation.
In 2014, rights group Defense for Children International – Palestine reported that 93 percent of children detained by Israeli forces were denied access to legal counsel, while others endured prolonged periods of solitary confinement for interrogation purposes, a practice that also amounts to torture under international law.
As Israeli authorities have heightened security across East Jerusalem, UN coordinator for the Middle East peace process Nickoloay Mladenov warned the UN Security Council earlier this week of potential repercussions of ongoing tension in the occupied city.
“As the Middle East faces a vicious tide of terror and extremism, such serious provocations have the potential to ignite violence well beyond the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem,” the official stated Tuesday.
“I urge all political, community and religious leaders to ensure that visitors and worshipers demonstrate restraint and respect for the sanctity of the area,” Mladenov added.
While altercations between local Palestinians and Israeli military and security forces take place on a daily basis in the area, the flames have been fueled in recent days due to increasing tours of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound by Jewish extremists under armed protection.
Palestinians fear that Israel is seeking to change rules governing the compound, with far-right Jewish groups pushing for more access to the compound and calls by fringe organizations to erect a new temple in the mosque’s place.
“Israel is playing with fire,” senior PLO official Hanan Ashrawi said Monday, warning that Israeli authorities were forcibly securing control over Al-Aqsa “in preparation for the total annexation and transformation of Al-Haram Al-Sharif.”
Israeli media reported Wednesday that the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, is set to hold an emergency meeting on Monday regarding the recent increase in violence.
Fears have also been raised that the increased tensions may threaten ties between Israel and Jordan, with King Abdullah II warning on Monday against further Israeli “provocation” in Jerusalem.
Jordan has custodianship over the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem — which is holy to both Jews and Muslims — and other Muslim holy sites in occupied East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as the capital of their future state.
The custodianship is enshrined in the peace treaty that the Hashemite Kingdom signed with Israel in 1994.
Israel seized East Jerusalem from Jordanian administration in 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community.