The Washington Post’s Jerusalem bureau chief William Booth was briefly detained by Israeli authorities on Tuesday while at the Damascus Gate.
According to a statement from police spokeswoman Luba Samri, “A passer-by complained that he witnessed a number of people intending to stage a provocative situation and disturbances by young Arabs toward policemen responsible for security in the area, apparently for propaganda purposes. In view of the complaint, the policemen detained a number of suspects in order to clarify the facts in a sensitive and discreet manner at the nearby police facility.”
Booth, as well as another Post employee, were quickly released, according to an email by Kris Coratti, a spokeswoman for The Post. The Foreign Ministry later issued a statement saying that the arrest was “regrettable” and “an unfortunate misunderstanding.”
According to another police spokesman named Micky Rosenfeld, law enforcement have been increasing security measures around the Damascus Gate leading into the Old City because Palestinians have been carrying knives, guns and other weapons to carry out stabbings and shootings in the past four months. According to the New York Times, at least 27 Israelis, an American student and a Palestinian have been killed since Oct. 1
“When the details of the incident were clarified and no suspicion at all of criminal activity was raised, the detainees were released immediately by the investigating officer without any other steps taken in the matter,” added Samri.
Booth has previously served as a bureau chief in Mexico City, Miami and Los Angeles.
The Post’s Tehran bureau chief Jason Rezaian was freed last month after being held prisoner in Iran for more than 500 days.