“Ahmad Attoun, whose Israeli-issued permit to reside in Jerusalem was revoked in 2006, had spent 70 days in an Israeli jail for being illegally present in the city,” Reuters reported, sourcing Attoun’s lawyer.
“This is one of the hardest moments of my life,” Attoun told journalists as he crossed the Qalandia checkpoint that divides Ramallah from Jerusalem.
“We are the original residents of this country and the occupation is the one that should leave the country, not us,” added Attoun, who was elected a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council in 2006.
The Electronic Intifada reported the circumstances of Attoun’s arrest in October, interviewing his colleague Muhammad Totah:
Totah told The Electronic Intifada that at 11:30am on 26 September, Israeli occupation forces staged a commotion in front of the gate of the ICRC building. When people went into the street to see what was going on, the undercover Israeli forces grabbed Attoun from inside the entrance of the gated ICRC property, and took him into custody, [Totah] said.
“Now he’s in the Moskobiyya [Russian compound] prison [in West Jerusalem] and they charged him with entering into Jerusalem illegally,” Totah said.
He explained that an Israeli court agreed to release Attoun from prison on the condition that he pay 50,000 shekels ($13,600) bail, and that he sign a pledge not to enter Jerusalem without the permission of the Israeli authorities.
“[He] refused to do so because it means that he agrees to being deported from Jerusalem,” said Totah, adding that Attoun will therefore likely remain in detention until the end of his case.
Attoun, Totah and fellow Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member Khaled Abu Arafeh had taken refuge at the International Committee of the Red Cross compound in occupied East Jerusalem to avoid the fate of their colleague Muhammad Abu Tir, who was arrested on 30 June 2010 when he refused to leave Jerusalem.
The four Palestinian lawmakers’ Jerusalem residency rights were revoked by the Israeli occupation authorities after running on the Hamas slate during the PLC elections in 2006.
The Electronic Intifada interviewed Mohammed Totah earlier this year about the precedent Israel is setting with his and the other lawmakers’ cases. He told EI:
It means deporting thousands of people from East Jerusalem for disloyalty. This word does not have any dimensions or any measures, so they can claim that anybody living in East Jerusalem … is disloyal to the Israeli occupation and then deport him. We know that it is one of the main objectives of the Israeli plan to empty East Jerusalem of the Palestinian people.