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Israel bans women’s day event in East Jerusalem

Palestinians mark International Women's Day in Gaza [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
Palestinians mark International Women's Day in Gaza [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

Israeli occupation authorities barred a Palestinian International Women’s Day celebration event from taking place in occupied Jerusalem on Tuesday.

The event, organised by the Association of Women for Equality and Democracy (AWED), was stopped hours before it was due to begin when Israeli police prevented scores of Palestinian women from reaching the event’s venue at the Saint George Hotel in occupied East Jerusalem.

Zohour Abu Mihaela, the Chairwoman of AWED and the event organiser, told Quds Press occupation police forces raided the hotel prior to the event starting and handed a municipal order to cancel the event.

She expressed shock at the amount of police that arrived at the venue. “They came as if [this was an event for] war criminals,” she said.

Read: Gaza marks International Women’s Day

The event was a cultural gathering with no “political agendas”, Abu Mihaela explained, intended to provide disadvantaged women from occupied East Jerusalem with a pleasant break from their daily lives. It was planned to also include recreational and cultural activities for Arab females in Jerusalem.

Abu Mihaela added that she was interrogated by the occupation forces regarding the event’s preparation. She slammed the Israeli action describing it as a clear message to the international community on the hardship that the Palestinian women suffer as a result of Israel’s violent acts.

On Wednesday, the Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan signed an order prohibiting a Palestinian International Women’s Day event from taking place in East Jerusalem over its alleged ties to the Palestinian Authority (PA). He claimed that the event, which he believed to be planned and sponsored by the PA, was part of “a struggle for [Palestinians] sovereignty in Jerusalem”.

“The PA is trying again and again to undermine the State of Israel’s sovereignty in Jerusalem and I will not lend them a hand with this or allow it,” Erdan said.

Read: Women make up half of Palestinian population

“Recently, the attempts of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas to strengthen their status in East Jerusalem by holding events, operating organisations and strengthening their ties [to the city] have increased,” the minister added.

In response, Abu Mihaela stressed the event has no connection to the PA. “We are an association registered under Israeli law,” she added. “All of our activity is on behalf of women, especially the disadvantaged [women in the Old City and Jerusalem].”

Last year, Erdan also shut down cultural and educational activities at Palestinian institutions in occupied East Jerusalem, as well as attempting to thwart awareness of the occupation at Israeli cultural and educational venues in West Jerusalem.

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