Occupied Palestine (Palestine Online)- Israeli forces are rounding up Palestinians en masse inside Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory as part of what Israeli police are calling “Operation Law & Order”, following two weeks of Palestinian uprisings over Israeli aggressions in Jerusalem, Sheikh Jarrah, and Gaza.
Shortly after midnight on Monday the Israeli police announced plans to “launch an extensive arrest operation across the country,” targeting Palestinian citizens of Israel over the next 48 hours in order to “settle scores” and “close accounts.”
Israeli Hebrew-language media sites reported that the operation was approved by Israel’s Minister of Internal Security Amir Ohana and Police Commissioner Major General Kobi Shabtai, the latter of which instructed thousands of active officers and reservists to arrest a target goal of 500 Palestinians.
Ynet news reported that “a few days after recovering, mostly from the trauma in Lod (Lydd),” Israeli police realized that their “deterrence” policy had been “severely damaged.”
In the early hours of Monday morning, videos began surfacing on social media of Israeli police handcuffing, blindfolding, and rounding up Palestinians in the streets of Lydd (Lod), a historically Palestinian city in central Israel that became the site of massive Palestinian protests two weeks ago, after an Israeli setter shot and killed Moussa Hassouna, a resident of Lydd.
Ynet reported that police have already prepared consolidated cases against the Palestinians being rounded up, “with evidence that will allow a speedy indictment to be filed,” adding that the Israel State Attorney’s Office has already filed more than 140 indictments in all districts against some 230 defendants, “Arabs and Jews, some of them minors, for various offenses in the riots.”
While the Israeli police claimed the operation was targeting Palestinians “identified with criminal organizations,” Palestinian activists and rights groups have called Israeli authorities out for what they are saying is “pure collective punishment,” and a clear attempt to punish and suppress those who partook in protests as part of the ‘unity uprising.’
“The massive arrest campaign announced by Israeli police last night is a militarized war against Palestinian citizens of Israel,” Dr. Hassan Jabareen, general director of Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel said in a statement.
“This is a war against Palestinian demonstrators, political activists, and minors, employing massive Israeli police forces to raid the homes of Palestinian citizens. These raids are intended to intimidate and to exact revenge on Palestinian citizens of Israel – ‘to settle the score’ with Palestinians, in the Israeli police’s own words – for their political positions and activities,” Jabareen said.
One system for Palestinians, another for Jews
Monday’s arrest campaign was not limited to Palestinian citizens of Israel, however, with reports from Palestinian rights groups like Grassroots Jerusalem indicating that at least 15 Palestinians from Jerusalem were rounded up on Monday morning.
Local Palestinian media have also reported widespread night raids in the occupied West Bank in recent weeks, with Israeli soldiers targeting Palestinian activists, journalists, and youth who participated in recent protests in the territory.
In a report published on Monday, Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer pointed out that since April at least 1,800 Palestinians in the West Bank, Jerusalem, and historic Palestine have been arrested and/or detained.
As for those who were arrested and rounded up in the weeks prior to Monday’s campaign, many Palestinians in places like Jerusalem are facing arbitrary bans on entering their holy sites, and are being forced to pay thousands of dollars in bail.
Addameer pointed out that while arbitrary arrest of Palestinians who participate in protests and Palestinian political life is common practice for Israel, the most recent escalation of Israeli state violence “notably escalated in its aim as a blanket repression and collective punishment of all who engage in protest, self-defense, and many more.”
The group highlighted the fact that while many Palestinians, particularly those living in Israel, are being hunted down and indicted on charges of “incitement” and racially-motivated violence against Jews, Israeli settler violence is “afforded immunity and protection,” despite widespread documentation of Israeli mobs chanting “death to Arabs” and targeting Palestinians and their property in places like Jerusalem, Haifa, Jaffa, and Akka — often in the presence of police.
Israeli media have reportedly widely on the case of three Jewish Israelis being indicted on “terrorism” charges for their participation in the lynching of a Palestinian man, 33-year-old Said Moussa, in the central Israeli city of Beit Yam.
Moussa’s lynching was broadcast on live Israeli television, as Jewish Israeli mobs pulled him out of his car and beat him within an inch of death, reportedly in the presence of Israeli authorities.
Haaretz reported that prior to the lynching of Moussa, “dozens of right-wing activists marched in the city and attacked a number of Arab-owned businesses. The rioters smashed windows, threw objects and chanted racist slogans.”
In its report, Haaretz quoted a senior police official who said that “There was an estimate that a few dozen people would come – but in reality 300 people came.”
Despite documentation in the media and on social media networks, and the admission of police that hundreds of Israeli Jews took part in these mobs, there was no evidence to suggest that hundreds of Israeli Jews were also being rounded up in massive arrest campaigns, like the ones currently targeting Palestinians.
“The existence of two different legal systems for groups living in the same area, highlighted by the escalation of recent events, clearly consecrates the Israeli apartheid regime, whether in Jerusalem and the 1948 occupied territories, or in the West Bank under the military regime,” Addameer said.