Israeli police arrested several Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem, accusing them of carrying out a population count. Al Jazeera reports some of the detainees were top leaders of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' political party, Fatah.
Israeli police said in a statement it "detained and arrested 17 suspects on suspicion of working with" the Palestinian Authority, the self-governing body for Palestinians in the Middle East.
Israel's occupation of East Jerusalem considered illegal under international law. And while Israel considers Jerusalem its undivided capital, Palestinians are also determined to do the same.
However, according to the Interim Agreement Law (1995), the Palestinian Authority's activity is prohibited in East Jerusalem.
According to a spokesperson for the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, Louay Shehadeh, Israeli authorities targeted Fatah members specifically and the arrests had nothing to do with the population count.
"We have been preparing to conduct a population census in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip since June, but we have been operating only in the suburbs like Abu Dis, al-Ram and Ezariya," Shehadeh said.
Adnan Gheith, a Fatah member, echoed Shehadeh's remarks, saying no information was available about the arrests and that it probably targeted Palestinian activity in East Jerusalem.