Earlier this year, Al-Haq documented clashes between Israeli settlers and Palestinians at the al-Aqsa mosque. Following this incident, the Israeli authorities arrested 13 Palestinians, who were accused of affiliation with a movement that the Israeli intelligence referred to as the ‘al-Aqsa Youth Organisation’. The 13 Palestinians were held in detention or under house arrest for almost five months. Following the last hearing on 11 July 2012, the 13 defendants were released and celebrated the decision with their families in front of the Damascus Gate. Last week, Al-Haq documented the case of one of the 13 detainees, who was re-arrested by the Israeli authorities for having taken part in the celebration.
Ghayth Naser Ghayth – (21 years old)
On 26 February 2012, three weeks after his graduation from university in Jordan and his return to his home in the Old City of Jerusalem, Ghayth was arrested by Israeli intelligence and military officers. He was questioned about his social activities and the Israeli intelligence accused Ghayth of being affiliated with the ‘al-Aqsa Youth Organisation’. Although Ghayth explained that he had been studying in Jordan and how it was impossible for him to engage in any suspicious activities, the Israeli authorities detained him along with other 12 Palestinians also accused of the same membership. After spending about six weeks in detention, Ghayth was moved to house arrest while awaiting a decision from the Israeli court regarding his case.
On 11 July, the 13 Palestinians, including Ghayth, had a hearing before an Israeli judge who dismissed the accusation of being affiliated with a secret organisation. However, they were sentenced for throwing stones. Eventually, the judge decided to release them, as they had already served the five months detention period. Later that day, Ghayth and the other 12 Palestinians celebrated their release with their families near the Damascus Gate, Jerusalem.
On Tuesday 17 July, at 11:00 a.m., while Ghayth was working in ‘Anata, he received a phone call from Israeli intelligence officers, who were at his home, to inform him that they had a warrant for his arrest. Ghayth recalls that he was threatened over the phone that if he did not meet with the Israeli intelligence in 15 minutes, they would arrest his mother. Ghayth immediately left his work and went to al-Qishla police station in the Old City, where two police officers in civil clothes took him to a police station in West Jerusalem. He was handcuffed and his feet were shackled. Two Israeli officers then took Ghayth into a room, where eight other Israeli detectives began to beat him. Ghayth was kicked by the detectives until he fell to the ground, bleeding at the mouth. One of the Israeli officers informed him that he was accused of participating in a celebration for his friends’ release on 11 July. Ghayth refused to speak to the officers and he was detained for 24 hours.
The following day, the Israeli attorney general’s office offered Ghayth and other two Palestinians, who were arrested for the same reason, a deal whereby they would be released immediately if they accepted a ban prohibiting them from entering al-Aqsa mosque for two months. The three detainees refused the deal, so they were brought before an Israeli judge, who released them after they had paid a fine of two thousand shekels (approximately 500 USD) per person. Although the Israeli attorney general appealed the judge’s decision and wanted the three Palestinian youths to be banned from entering al-Aqsa, the court of appeal refused the attorney general’s request. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 7576/2012)
However, three other Palestinian defendants involved in the same case received orders issued by the Israeli authorities after their release that banned them from entering al-Aqsa mosque for six months and ordered them to maintain a distance of 20 meters from the mosque at all times. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 7574/2012)