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Israel rights NGO: Summer of ‘arrests, violence, and raids’ in Issawiya

October 7, 2019 at 12:19 pm

Palestinian protesters hold placards in front of Israeli border police, during a demonstration in Issawiya, Jerusalem on 12 November 2014 [Muammar Awad/Apaimages]

Israeli forces inflicted a summer of “arrests, violence, and raids” on the Palestinian residents of Issawiya, occupied East Jerusalem, according to human rights organisation B’Tselem.

Over three months – June to August – Israeli police conducted a campaign which “included daily law enforcement and collective punishment raids, ostensibly in response to stone throwing”.

This officially-sanctioned harassment has included daily raids, the detaining of “residents returning from work, issuing of traffic tickets for spurious infractions, serving of house demolition orders, acts of violence, and detentions – particularly of minors.”

Over the three summer months (June to August), the police arrested around 350 residents of the neighbourhood, including children. Most detainees were released after posting bail, and in some cases, placed “under house arrest for several days”.

In confrontations between local residents and occupation forces from the Special Patrol Unit and the Border Police, officers “used violence, fired black sponge-tipped rounds and teargas canisters and stun grenades, and used pepper spray”.

READ: Israel’s systemic harassment of human rights workers 

One of the violent raids saw police officers kill 21-year-old local Muhammad Obeid.

According to B’Tselem, their field researcher examined ten incidents in which the Special Patrol Unit officers “used severe violence against neighbourhood residents without any justification”.

In one incident, on 28 July, “police officers entered the home of the ‘Abeid [Obeid] family and demanded to access the roof of the house”, then assaulted Fadi obeid, 26, “beating him and throwing a stun grenade at his body, causing serious burns”.

On 8 August, Israeli forces “raided the home of the Fakhuri family, despite having been told that the family’s children were at home alone.”

The officers broke down the door and arrested a boy aged 13, using severe violence, in the absence of his parents

B’Tselem added.

In another case cited, on 12 August, Israeli police officers “broke into the home of the al-Masri family while the extended family was gathering for the holiday meal”.

“They beat members of the family and fired a sponge round at one of them from just a few meters.”

According to B’Tselem, “although the harassment has abated somewhat since the beginning of the school year, it still continues at varying levels of intensity.”

This harassment campaign “does not take place in a vacuum,” B’Tselem added. “It is an inseparable part of Israeli policy throughout East Jerusalem, which seeks to perpetuate a demographic majority for Jews in the city.”

“This goal is pursued in part by devoting resources and efforts to making life in the city unbearable for Palestinians, so that they leave, ostensibly of their own will,” B’Tselem concluded.