JERUSALEM (Jul. 21)
An Israeli Arab abducted from his eastern Jerusalem home and moved to Ramallah by Palestinian security forces has been released, a Palestinian official reportedly said.
During the weekend, Abed Al-Salam Hirbawi, 50, was arrested in connection with a land dispute with the Coptic Church.
He was then taken to the West Bank city of Ramallah.
The Israeli army is checking whether Hirbawi was released, it was reported.
Israel had demanded Hirbawi’s release, saying that his arrest was in violation of the Israeli-Palestinian autonomy agreements, which forbid the Palestinian Authority to arrest Israeli citizens or to operate inside Jerusalem.
Israel has repeatedly charged Palestinian security with operating in areas outside its jurisdiction.
Israel, in response to the abduction, sealed off Ramallah and delayed a planned easing of the closure of the West Bank and Gaza Strip that was imposed after the first of a string of suicide bombings in February and March.
Israel plans to allow an additional 10,000 Palestinian workers older than 30 into the country. Currently, only 25,000 Palestinians are allowed into the Jewish state.
Hirbawi’s family reportedly said that the church was trying to take over a warehouse that the family owns and that is located between the Coptic Convent and Hirbawi’s factory in eastern Jerusalem.
In a separate incident, Jewish settlers and Palestinians went head-to-head during the weekend in the West Bank, prompting the Israel Defense Force to impose a curfew on the Arab village of Karyut.
Apparently, Palestinians in the village demonstrated against what they said were attempts by Jews to expand the boundaries of the nearby Shiloh settlement.
Karyut residents said Shiloh settlers took over about 350 acres of their land. The settlers rejected the claims, saying that it was state land that legally belongs to Shiloh.
During the confrontations, settlers injured three Palestinian photographers.
The Palestinians and Jewish settlers threw stones at each other until the IDF broke up the disturbance with tear gas.
A Palestinian human rights group charged that the soldiers let the settlers into the area of the Palestinian demonstration, creating a potentially dangerous situation.
The Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment further charged that the soldiers merely looked on as the clash took place.