Since Ir Amim first reported on the events in Al-Issawiya on July 1 [see below], the situation has deteriorated, and tensions have escalated to a near state of emergency. Hostile police raids accompanied by forcible home entries, restrictions on movement, and use of excessive force, including live ammunition, have continued unabated for nearly six weeks, effectively imposing a perpetual state of collective punishment on the entire neighborhood.
Daily life has continued to be disrupted while resident’s basic rights infringed upon. There is growing concern that the ongoing hostilities are liable to claim more lives.
These actions signal an alarming trend in Israel’s treatment and policy towards specific East Jerusalem neighborhoods and likewise serve to further provoke and inflame area residents.
An immediate cessation of these measures must be invoked in order to restore calm and order to Al-Issawiya.
[Information from July 1st]
For more than two weeks, Israeli security forces, accompanied at times by municipal authorities, have been daily carrying out alleged law enforcement campaigns in the neighborhood of Al-Issawiya, effectively imposing a state of collective punishment on the population, while generating an environment of friction and hostility. Al-Issawiya, home to approximately 20,000 Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, lies to the Northeast of the Old City and is adjacent to the Hebrew University campus on Mount Scopus.
According to residents, since June 12, there have been over 40 police raids in the neighborhood, which have included the imposition of "flying checkpoints,” road closures, and restrictions on movement, as well as forcible entries into homes where excessive administrative and security checks have been carried out and arbitrary fines, traffic tickets and other sanctions issued. In the clashes which have broken out during these raids, Israeli security forces have used rubber bullets as well as live ammunition. Over 50 residents have been detained so far, while more than 100 have been injured as a result of the police’s use of excessive force, which recently claimed the life of 20-year-old Mohammed Obeid.
To date, no official announcement has been made stating reasons for the police crackdown and recurring mass incursions into the neighborhood. According to residents, some were told by the police that the increased presence of law enforcement was ordered by the Jerusalem District Police Chief until all rock-throwing incidents from Al-Issawiya ceased. However, the raids do not appear to be aimed at any achievable result, such as targeted arrests of wanted individuals and/or the seizure of weapons.
Repeated entry and aggressive police actions directed at the entire community coupled with an increase of municipal enforcement is being used as a form of intimidation and collective punishment, which further inflames tensions and hostilities. In specific cases of disorderly conduct or other violations, it is the police’s responsibility to deal with each case individually, rather than arbitrarily employ concerted punitive measures against tens of thousands of the city’s residents, disrupting their daily lives and impinging on their basic rights. Instead of working to actually quell the situation, these actions only serve to further provoke and incite, creating intolerable conditions for the entire population of the area.
In order to restore calm and order to Al-Issawiya, these measures must immediately be halted and efforts made to establish dialogue with the neighborhood’s representative committee. Yesterday, Ir Amim issued a letter to the acting Israel Police Commissioner, Moti Cohen, and Jerusalem Mayor, Moshe Leon, calling upon the authorities to cease such campaigns and reestablish peace in the area. As residents of Jerusalem under the responsibility and jurisdiction of the municipality, they are not only entitled to its services, but should also be guaranteed full protection and their rights upheld.