Israeli police shuttered Palestinian-owned businesses in occupied East Jerusalem following a stabbing attack despite not having warrants or other legal authorisation, two legal rights groups have claimed.
Adalah – the Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and the Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Centre (JLAC) have urged the Israeli authorities “to halt further implementation of policies of vengeful collective punishment forcing the closure of Arab-owned businesses in East Jerusalem.”
The letter, sent on 22 September to Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Israel Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh and Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, came in response to events on 19 September when, following a stabbing attack nearby, Israeli police “ordered the closure of Arab-owned businesses on Sultan Suleiman and Salah Al-Din streets and in the Musrara area, threatening those business owners who refused with monetary fines.”
Adalah Attorney Sawsan Zaher and JLAC Attorney Mohammed Abu Sneineh wrote: “This is a policy with ulterior motivations intended to take vengeance upon and collectively punish local residents and business owners.”
“The fact that only Arab owners were obligated to close their places of business, even though such [stabbing] incidents also take place in Jewish areas and communities and this policy is not applied there, increases the suspicion of discriminatory enforcement according to national/ethnic background.”
The letter also noted that the forced closure of the businesses “was carried out without any legitimate authority and in contravention of international laws relevant to the concerned area.” Adalah and JLAC have urged the authorities to “refrain from all future use of this policy of vengeful collective punishment.”