Photo Credit: Yehonatan Valtser/TPS

Jerusalem’s police arrested seven Arab residents of the capital on suspicion that they illegally operated on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the city.

The police stated Tuesday that an undercover investigation led to the exposure of the suspects who took advantage of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions and lockdown to operate on behalf of the PA in Jerusalem, a PA attempt to assert its sovereignty in Jerusalem.

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The investigation uncovered PA funding for these illegal activities.

Police detectives early Tuesday morning raided the eastern Jerusalem homes of the suspects, in their 40s, including the main suspect, Bilal Natsheh, 59.

A search of the suspects’ homes yielded evidence supporting the investigation, including parts of PA uniforms, the police stated.

When their investigation is completed, the police will decide which of the suspects will be brought before the court for a hearing on his case.

Jerusalem’s police have previously arrested Arab suspects from eastern Jerusalem on suspicion of carrying out illegal activity connected to the PA.

TPS reported that the Fatah movement in Jerusalem has been taking advantage of the Coronavirus crisis to assert its sovereignty in the eastern part of the city.

The Fatah movement of the Jerusalem District, under the direction of Mahmoud Abbas and the PA leadership, has been working to “ensure the peace of the Palestinian public” in the Old City and eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods.

Fatah youth activists, known as the Habibah, and hundreds of volunteers have been acting as public health officials on behalf of the PA.

Groups of people operate mainly during the night in the so-called “operation for the Palestinian public.”

This activity, according to Fatah officials, is another step in demonstrating Palestinian sovereignty in the eastern part of Jerusalem.

On social networks, activists wrote that Fatah is restoring its sovereignty in eastern Jerusalem and several campaigns entitled “Palestinian Sovereignty” are being distributed on social networks.

Fatah’s secretary-general in Jerusalem Shadi Matur is running the operation under the direction of the PA’s governor of Jerusalem District, Adnan Ghit. Fatah’s youth movement has opened an operation room in the Abu Dis neighborhood and is overseeing the activity.

Matur is considered one of the top intelligence targets of the Jerusalem Police, is very close to Ghit, and is slated to succeed him as Fatah commander in the east of the city. Matur is very active on the Temple Mount complex, was arrested several times and has had at least 13 restraining orders issued against him.

The PA’s actions in Jerusalem contravene Israeli laws meant to limit the PA’s presence in its capital.

Israel’s Minister of Internal Security Gilad Erdan is promoting legal action against elements working to help the PA advance its objective in Jerusalem, including those involved in financing or hosting PA events in Jerusalem.

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