Ahead of Jerusalem Day: Police Treatment of Palestinians in East Jerusalem

Police in East Jerusalem. Photo by Meged Gozani, Activestills

Over the past two years, the personal safety of Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem has seen a serious and dangerous decline. One day before Jerusalem Day, which marks the establishment of Israeli control over East Jerusalem in June 1967, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) publishes an overview of police violence towards Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem. ACRI’s overview details the continued decline in personal safety in East Jerusalem and documents the severe conduct of the Israeli police.
Summary of ACRI’s findings:

  • Rift between Police and Residents: Palestinians view the police as a hostile force, rarely calling the Jerusalem police to assist them when in need.
  • “No Man’s Land” beyond the Barrier: Jerusalem residents of neighborhoods cut off by the Separation Barrier complain of a total absence of police presence.
  • Police Conduct during Rioting: Riot-control measures, such as tear gas and rubber bullets, are often used excessively in the center of crowded neighborhoods.
  • Selective Enforcement: Arabs and Jews are not treated equally when filing complaints; freedom of movement is enforced selectively.
  • Restraining Orders and Intimidation of Activists: 122 Palestinian residents have been restricted from entering parts of the city in the past two years; activists are summoned for a “cautionary” questioning in police stations.
  • Youth Law Ignored In Arrests of Minors: 1,200 minors were questioned in 2010 in relation to stone-throwing; some suffered violence and harassment and were handled in violation of Youth Law regulations.

With the recent appointment of a new District Police Commander, Major General Nisso Shaham, ACRI is hopeful that a positive new spirit will permeate the ranks of the police, one reflective of his remarks at his appointment ceremony: “To give our wholehearted service to every population in the city, and to staunchly protect the rights of all.”
ACRI’s experience in East Jerusalem shows that when law enforcement officials have expressed genuine interest in changing the reality for the better, and when they have done so through dialogue and cooperation with residents, there have been dramatic changes on the ground for the benefit of all concerned. Conversely, when the police have chosen an approach of alienation, exclusion, and refusal to understand residents’ concerns, it has been impossible to bridge the rift between the two sides. The incoming police chief must act to restore trust and renew the relationship between residents and the police, for the common good.
Only a transformation of consciousness and a fundamental change in priorities will enable law enforcement officials to create a different reality for local Palestinian residents – one without intimidation and fear of continuous abuse, violence and dispossession. This transformation is necessary to protect personal and public safety in East Jerusalem, to ensure the rule of law, and to protect the human rights of all.
To download the full overview, click here.

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Categories: East Jerusalem, Police and Security Guards, Publications and Campaigns, Racism and Discrimination, The Occupied Territories, The Right to Equality, Use of Force

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