Journalists were standing off to the side of a mass prayer action that devolved into light clashes when police charged at them, singling out Faiz Abu Rmeleh, later beating and harassing him, he says.
By Oren Ziv and Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man
Israeli police roughed up and detained Activestills photojournalist Faiz Abu Rmeleh Tuesday night while he was covering a mass prayer at the Lions’ Gate of the Old City in Jerusalem. The incident is one of many in recent days in which Israeli, Palestinian and foreign press have accused police of restricting their access and in some cases assaulting them.
Police accused Abu Rmeleh of attacking them and held him until 4 a.m., eventually releasing him with a 15-day restraining order from Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Lions’ Gate, and the Old City of Jerusalem, despite the fact that he lives in the Old City. Multiple witnesses and Abu Rmeleh himself reject the accusation that he acted in any way violently toward officers. He has not been charged.
More than 1,000 worshipers gathered at the Lions’ Gate, one of the entrances to Jerusalem’s Old City, and held prayers there as an act of civil disobedience Tuesday night, as they have every night over the past week or so. At the end of prayers, once the majority of worshipers had dispersed, things deteriorated, with some Palestinian youth throwing stones and police using stun grenades against the members of the crowd that remained.
“It was clear the police were ready for trouble. For about the last five minutes of prayers they had stun grenades already in their hands,” The Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent, Peter Beaumont, told +972 Magazine.
A group of journalists was standing on some steps off to the side of the action when police came at them and began pushing them away, several members of the press recounted.
“We didn’t have anywhere to go,” Abu Rmeleh told +972 Magazine after he was released Wednesday morning. “They jumped on me and said, you’re under arrest. I asked why, and they said for assaulting a police officer.”
“Faiz was photographing,” Beaumont, the Guardian correspondent, recalled. “Several [officers] made a bee line for Faiz and grabbed him. The only reason appeared to be that he continued taking photographs.”
Despite other journalists telling police that Abu Rmeleh is a press photographer, officers took him to two separate police...Read More