Israel yesterday released the governor of Jerusalem Adnan Ghaith and the Fatah part's Secretary-General Shadi Mutwar after arresting and detaining them for several hours.
Mohammed Mahmud, the lawyer for the senior Palestinian figures, stated that they were arrested during dawn raids in their homes in occupied East Jerusalem for "carrying out sovereign acts of the Palestinian Authority in Jerusalem". Performing activities for the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Jerusalem is explicitly forbidden by Israeli authorities, who see it as an attack on their own sovereignty in their self-declared capital.
Both Ghaith and Mutwar were meant to greet and welcome the Saudi national football team, which visited Jerusalem and toured the Al-Aqsa Mosque before playing a match against the Palestinian team in the West Bank yesterday. Israeli authorities, however, detained the two officials prior to this and extended their detention until late in the evening when they appeared in court on charges of "exercising the sovereignty of the Palestinian Authority in Jerusalem."
Following their arrest, the PA condemned the move, with Palestinian diplomat Hanan Ashrawi stating: "The Palestinian leadership strongly condemns the illegal detention of Jerusalem Governor Adnan Ghaith."
"Israel wages a war against every Palestinian in Jerusalem…and provokes Palestinian national and religious sentiments through countless illegal actions and policies," she added.
This is not the first time Palestinian officials and figures have been arrested in Jerusalem and even within the Al-Aqsa compound, but others belonging to the PA and the Islamic Waqf (endowment trust), controlled by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, have been detained over the past few years based on charges which include renovating the Al-Aqsa Mosque or other Islamic holy sites.
As Ghaith and Mutwar were being released, Israeli authorities proceeded to arrest the preacher of Al-Aqsa mosque Sheikh Ismail Nawahda at the Qalandiya checkpoint between Jerusalem and the West Bank. The charge for his arrest was allegedly due to Friday sermons at the mosque.