US activists arrested at sit-down protest in front of Israel embassy in Washington
About 400 to 500 activists protested in front of the embassy for about an hour on Sunday afternoon, against Israeli settlement expansion in Sheikh Jarrah, Hebron and the Negev ("Naqab") Desert. The protest was organised by the Palestinian Youth Movement.
A smaller group of the demonstrators then staged a sit-in, calling for an end to both settlement expansions in the occupied territories and US military funding to Israel. They also called for fair media coverage of the occupation.
A total of seven activists were arrested by secret service officers at around 5:30pm. They were released overnight.
Zaid Khatib, a local member of the Palestinian Youth Movement, attended the demonstration on Sunday. He was not arrested, but said he found the police response to the demonstrators heavy-handed.
"We saw more than 10 secret service forces’ vans," he told The New Arab. "There were more police than people they wanted to arrest."
In spite of the arrests, he was heartened by his fellow demonstrators' determination.
"First and foremost, it was uplifting to see people committed to the struggle, to hold their ground against the secret service and place themselves at risk," he said.
Israel demolished a Palestinian family's home in East Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood last week, reigniting uproar and protests from Palestine to other parts of the world.
Dozens of Palestinian homes are under threat of demolition across East Jerusalem. The Israeli municipality says it plans to turn land in Sheikh Jarrah on which Palestinian homes sit into a public space.
Activists say that Israel intends to build a religious Jewish school in place of the recently demolished home in Sheikh Jarrah, while Jerusalem municipality says it will construct a school for children with special needs on the site.
A biblical theme park is planned for another area in occupied East Jerusalem.
In the Negev, Israel is demolishing Palestinian Bedouin property to clear land for an afforestation project run by the controversial Jewish National Fund.