Israeli military forces are examining the possibility of taking control of security in the Shu’fat refugee camp and in Kafr Aqab, according to information obtained by Israeli daily Haaretz.
Whilst the proposed nature of Israeli soldiers’ duties in the neighbourhoods is currently unknown, defence officials have said the decision has been motivated by an increase in unrest and violence in East Jerusalem. The two areas are currently under the jurisdiction of the Jerusalem municipality but are physically cut off from the city as a result of the separation wall.
There are approximately between 100,000 and 150,000 residents in Kafr Aqab and the Shu’fat refugee camp; they carry Israeli identity cards and have residency status in Israel.
In addition to the Binyamin Brigade assuming responsibility for Jerusalem neighbourhoods, Israel is also proposing that the Samaria Brigade, which is responsible for the Nablus area, will assume responsibility for additional areas further south.
According to MK Ayman Odeh, this is a move designed to uproot 100,000 Palestinians from Jerusalem and to divide East Jerusalem into small entities comprised of separate villages and neighbourhoods, in an effort to prevent any unified land being reserved for a Palestinian state.
Odeh also expresses concern at the impact it will have on Palestinians in the neighbourhoods, whom already suffer from a high level of poverty and a lack of adequate infrastructure. Many families are expected to be separated and many thousands cut off from their source of livelihoods.
This is not the first time authorities have attempted to interfere with Palestinian neighbourhoods. Last year, a “secret plan” emerged that saw Israel attempt to separate the Shu’fat refugee camp, northeast of Jerusalem and Kafr Aqab, north of the city, from the Jerusalem Municipality, in an effort to “preserve a Jewish majority in Jerusalem”.