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Israel frees Sheikh Jarrah activists after hours-long detention

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, Palestine: Activists Muna al-Kurd and Mohammed al-Kurd, who have been at the forefront of a campaign to stop the expulsions of Palestinians from occupied East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, have been released from custody several hours after they were arrested by Israeli police.

“No matter what they do to terrorise and frighten us, no number of arrests will scare us off,” Muna told media persons after her release on Sunday.

“We will remain in our homes and we will continue to defend our land that we were born and raised on,” she said.

Mohammed told reporters: “We are not afraid, we are not intimidated, we are going to continue to speak out against all of these injustices, and we’re going to continue to protect our homes.”

Earlier, Nabil al-Kurd, father of the 23-year-old twins, said Muna was arrested after police raided their home in Sheikh Jarrah, while Mohammed had turned himself in at a police station after receiving a summons.

“They want to remove us [from Jerusalem] … but we are here,” Nabil al-Kurd told reporters.

“The weapons of the Palestinians are the camera, and the words – whereas the Israeli army is heavily armed.”

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said 10 people were injured when Israeli forces fired rubber bullets and stun grenades at protesters outside a police station who were calling for the release of the activists.

The arrests of the activists come a day after a journalist Givara Budeiri was arrested while covering a demonstration in Sheikh Jarrah.

Givara Budeiri, a journalist associated with Al Jazeera, was released hours later after her arrest drew global condemnation.

Lawyer Nasser Odeh, speaking outside the police station earlier on Sunday, said the siblings faced “committing acts that disturb public security” and “taking part in riots”.

“The reason for the arrest is that we say that we will not leave our homes, and they do not want anyone to express his opinion, they do not want anyone to tell the truth,” Nabil al-Kurd told Associated Press by phone. “They want to silence us.”

A video posted on social media showed Muna being taken from the home in handcuffs. “Don’t be afraid,” she is seen telling her family, as she is being led out of the house by Israeli police.

Half of the al-Kurd family home was taken over by Israeli settlers in 2009. Mohammed told the journalists that sharing their home with “squatters with Brooklyn accents” was “insufferable, intolerable [and] terrible”.

“They are just sitting in our home, tormenting us, harassing us, doing everything they can to not only force us to leave the second half of our home but also harassing our neighbours into leaving their homes as part of an effort to completely annihilate the presence of Palestinians from Jerusalem,” Mohammed, who, along with Muna, was 11 years old when the settlers forced their way in, said.

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