Israeli forces detained the Palestinian Governor of occupied East Jerusalem, Adnan Ghaith, on Wednesday morning, February 27, after raiding his home in the village of Silwan just south of the Old City. Israeli intelligence and special forces raided Ghaith’s home and transferred him to the Russian compound police center in West Jerusalem.
Israeli forces have previously detained Ghaith several times, the last of which was in last November. However, they also raided and searched his home in December and banned him from entering the West Bank for six months and from traveling outside Palestine.
Wednesday night, the Israeli Magistrate Court ordered the release of Governor Ghaith after the Israeli Security Agency (“Shabak”) failed to appeal its decision within the stipulated time limit. The court had given the Shabak until 6:00 pm local time to submit an appeal to the ruling made earlier in the day, and after the deadline has passed, Ghaith was set free.
Ghaith was detained in an Israeli security crackdown on Palestinian activists, politicians and religious figures in occupied East Jerusalem in the context of increased tension at the Al-Aqsa Mosque over prayer rights for Muslims at the Bab al-Rahma gate located within the mosque’s compound. Israel closed the Bab al-Rahma area in 2003 and has subsequently prevented Muslim worship there under all sorts of pretexts. Last week Palestinians decided to defy the Israeli order and reopened the site for prayer.
Al-Aqsa is the third holiest site for Islam and Muslims are supposed to be able to worship freely anywhere in its premises.