Palestinian Fadi Aliyan is due to return to his job guarding Al-Aqsa Mosque next week, after spending 11 months in Israeli prisons.
The 31-year-old, from Al-Issawiya in Jerusalem, was released on Sunday. He was arrested on 28 June 2016 on charges of “assaulting a policeman” when Israeli settlers stormed the mosque and sentenced to 11 months in jail with a bail of 1,500 shekels ($400). His sentenced was issued one day after his arrest.
He was arrested during Ramadan when large numbers of Muslim worshippers were at the mosque. Speaking to the Anadolu Agency, Aliyan said police arrested dozens of worshipers, including British Muslims, who came to worship in Jerusalem and “brutally assaulted many, as shown in videos which circulated on the day”.
“On that day, the worshipers expressed their rejection of the settlers’ intrusions,” he explained, adding that police assaulted them, and “when I tried to free a large blind man from the hands of a police officer, I was attacked and beaten, and I defended myself.”
Aliyan condemned the ongoing police crackdown on Al-Aqsa mosque guards.
He says the police removed him from Al-Aqsa Mosque for two months in 2015, and again in 2016 for two weeks.
He also receives phone calls from Israeli intelligence who are investigating his work as a guard at the mosque, he said.
He said working as an Al-Aqsa guard is becoming more and more difficult in light of “the escalation of police intervention in the mosque, the presence of members of the special forces almost continuously inside the squares during the incursions, and the increasing number of intruders who are accompanied by the Israeli security services.”
A guard witnesses many abuses at the hands of settlers and tries to object to them or prevent them as part of the job he was employed for.
Israeli forces stormed Aliyan’s house hours before his release, threatening his family and warning them against holding a celebration for his return in the Old City.
The police also forced him to sign a pledge not to take part in ceremonial events and raise flags. They threatened to re-arrest him if a popular reception was held.
[Through its arrest campaigns, Israel seeks to] discourage guards, to dissuade them from performing their duties in protecting the security of the mosque, and to address the encroachment of the settlers.