Israeli border police forces arrested a Palestinian man and two Italian artists next to the Israeli separation wall in the southern occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem on Saturday evening.
The artists, one of whom was identified as Italian citizen Jorit Agoch, have been painting a mural on the wall of imprisoned Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi, who is set to be released back to her home tomorrow after serving eight months in prison for slapping an Israeli soldier.
The Palestinian man arrested along with them is Mustafa al-Araj, 31, a resident of the nearby Aida refugee camp and the co-owner of a local volunteer organization. Al-Araj, recently engaged, is set to be married in 10 days.
Video of the incident, which took place around 7 pm [Noon EST] shows three armed Israeli soldiers pulling the men out of their car and searching them before putting them in handcuffs.
The soldiers then took the men into a permanent Israeli military base near the wall.
Sources told Mondoweiss that the three were transferred to an Israeli detention center for interrogation in Atarot, Jerusalem.
The Times of Israel reported:
A Border Police spokesman confirmed the arrests and said the suspects had attempted to flee in their vehicle. He added that any painting on the barrier is illegal.
As of midnight, the three were still being held in the detention center, according to sources, who added that the Italian embassy has allegedly intervened.
Israeli border police did not respond to a request for comment by Mondoweiss.
The two Italian artists have been working on the massive portrait of Tamimi for the past five days, in preparation for her widely anticipated release.
On Monday, the artists were confronted by Israeli soldiers when they began painting the mural on a portion of the wall close to the military tower.
The artists told Mondoweiss at the time that the soldiers threatened them and banned them from painting the mural in the initial location, forcing them to move several meters down the road, where the current mural sits.