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Palestinian activist arrested after IDF soldier filmed kneeling on his neck

Weeks after clash, army spokesperson says Khairi Hanoun is a ‘central instigator of violence, he takes part in many disruptions of order’

Israeli soldiers detain a Palestinian protester during a demonstration against Israeli settlement expansion in the village of Shufah, southeast of Tulkarm in the West Bank, on September 1, 2020. (Photo by JAAFAR ASHTIYEH / AFP)
Israeli soldiers detain a Palestinian protester during a demonstration against Israeli settlement expansion in the village of Shufah, southeast of Tulkarm in the West Bank, on September 1, 2020. (Photo by JAAFAR ASHTIYEH / AFP)

Palestinian activist Khairi Hanoun was arrested on Monday by the Israeli army, several sources told AFP, weeks after footage of a soldier kneeling on his neck during a protest sparked outrage.

Hanoun, in his late sixties, has regularly taken part in protests against the proposed extension of an Israeli settlement near Tulkarm in the northern West Bank.

In early September, he attended a rally of dozens of people at a road bordering the village of Shufah, between Nablus and Tulkarm, during which clashes broke out with Israeli soldiers.

In video footage, Hanoun appeared to touch a soldier, who then pushed him to the ground, putting his knee on his neck as he secured his hands with a plastic tie.

Later, AFP journalists on the scene saw Hanoun, standing with his hands handcuffed behind his back, appear to step back from a soldier who grabbed him and shoved him to the ground, placing his knee on his neck again.

On Monday, Hanoun was arrested by the Israeli army at his home in Anabta, between Nablus and Tulkarm, Palestinian security services said in a statement.

Israeli soldiers detain Palestinian Khairi Hanoun during a protest against expansion of Israeli settlements in the village of Shufah in the West Bank, Tuesday, September 1, 2020.(AP/Majdi Mohammed)

According to the statement, he was arrested to “put an end to his interviews with the media in which he speaks of the brutal aggression he has recently faced.”

A spokeswoman for the Israeli army told AFP Hanoun wasn’t arrested for a specific event, but is a figure of interest to the army and police.

“He’s a central instigator of violence, he takes part in many disruptions of order,” she said.

After the incident earlier this month, the army said the images did not show the extent of the confrontation and that “a Palestinian known as an inciter” had “shoved” a soldier multiple times.

The army said videos that had circulated of the incident were “partial” and did not “reflect the violent riot nor the violence” against Israeli troops prior to Hanoun’s arrest.

Edited footage of the incident had circulated on social media and Palestinian television channels, several with the hashtag #PalestinianLivesMatter.

They compared the image with George Floyd, an unarmed African American who was filmed with a police officer pressing his knee to Floyd’s neck until he died.

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