Al Jazeera reporter detained in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah for ‘assaulting’ cops

Givara Budeiri released after several hours, denies allegations; Qatari network condemns the ‘shameful’ arrest

Israeli forces arrest Al Jazeera journalist, Givara Budeiri, during a protest in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, June 5, 2021. (AP Photo/Oren Ziv)
Israeli forces arrest Al Jazeera journalist, Givara Budeiri, during a protest in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, June 5, 2021. (AP Photo/Oren Ziv)

An Al Jazeera journalist was arrested in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem on Saturday, with Israeli police accusing her of attacking officers.

The correspondent was identified by Al Jazeera as Givara Budeiri, the Qatari network’s Jerusalem correspondent. She was released hours later and has denied the accusations against her, according to Al Jazeera.

“They came from everywhere, I don’t know why. They kicked me to the wall,” Budeiri said. “They kicked me inside the car in a very bad way … they were kicking me from everywhere.”

Footage from the scene showed the correspondent’s broken camera equipment on the floor after she was taken into custody.

According to reports, Budeiri received a 15-day restraining order barring her from the neighborhood following her release from custody.

The police had announced they arrested in the neighborhood two suspects, a man and a woman, for assaulting officers after they refused to identify themselves. A spokesperson for the police told The Times of Israel that the journalist was among those arrested.

The network condemned the arrest, calling it “shameful behavior and a new chapter in a series of Israeli attacks,” and demanded Budeiri’s immediate release, which occurred shortly after.

The Palestinian Ministry of Information also condemned the arrest, saying that it “indicates what level of brutality the occupation has reached, which has waged at the same time a fierce war against journalists, especially in occupied Jerusalem,” Wafa, the official Palestinian Authority news agency reported.

According to the police, demonstrations were taking place in the neighborhood at the time, which included protesters hurling stones and launching fireworks toward officers.

In recent months frequent clashes have occurred in the East Jerusalem neighborhood over the pending eviction of several Palestinian families from homes claimed by Jewish nationalists. The Supreme Court is set to hear an appeal from the families in Sheikh Jarrah, but will only convene on the matter in December.

The looming Sheikh Jarrah evictions were a central reason for the major unrest in Jerusalem last month that ended up sparking an 11-day conflict between the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group and Israel, after violent protests spread to the Temple Mount and Al-Aqsa Mosque and prompted Hamas to fire rockets at Jerusalem.

File: Israeli security forces on horseback disperse Palestinian demonstrators during protests against Israel at the flashpoint Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem, on May 18, 2021 (EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP)

The land in question was owned by Jews before the 1948-49 Independence War, when it was seized by Jordan and leased to Palestinian families. After Israel captured the area in the 1967 war, a 1970 Israeli law transferred all abandoned properties still held by the Jordanian government, including the Sheikh Jarrah homes, to the custody of the Israeli government. The law further obligated the release of properties to original owners when possible. The Jewish trusts that had owned the site appealed for its return to their hands, sparking a five-decade legal battle between the trusts and the Palestinian residents.

Israel says the issue is a private property dispute to be adjudicated by the courts. Palestinian residents argue that the demand to reclaim the site is part of a campaign by Israeli settlement groups to displace them and replace their community with a Jewish one.

Aaron Boxerman contributed to this report.

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