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From the field

Draconian measures against deprived population not a solution

A police cordon at the entrance to the neigbourhood of al-'Esawiyah, 'Amer 'Aruri. B'Tselem, 8 Sept. 2014
A police cordon at the entrance to the neigbourhood of al-'Esawiyah. 'Amer 'Aruri, B'Tselem, 8 Sept. 2014

In response to recent events in East Jerusalem, various officials made media statements recently about the measures they think should be taken to ensure order in the city. Some of these measures have been implemented.

For instance, according to reports, the Jerusalem Municipality has ramped up municipal law enforcement in East Jerusalem only, including on issues previously not enforced; the police has closed off East Jerusalem neighborhoods for days at a time, placing various limitation on residents’ freedom of movement there; the police also placed checkpoints in East Jerusalem only, and have stopped and ticketed residents for a long list of violations of laws that previously went unenforced, and still aren't in other parts of the city.

These measures, and many others implemented in the past weeks, constitute selective enforcement of laws and regulations in order to pressure a population that already suffers from a severe shortage of infrastructure, housing, public services like schools and baby-wellness clinics, and recreational areas. Since 1967, although Israel annexed East Jerusalem, the authorities have implemented a declared policy of discrimination there, including steps taken to reduce the number of Palestinian residents in the city and increase the number of Jewish residents. These are all aspects of the reality of occupation, under which Palestinians in East Jerusalem have been living for almost fifty years.

Almost all the measures currently being taken by Israeli authorities in East Jerusalem involve harming persons not involved in stone-throwing or in other incidents, with the explicit aim of pressuring all Palestinian residents in the area to restrain those among them who participate in such activities. Israel has used this method before, in other places. It is an unlawful and immoral approach that both ignores the existing reality of discrimination and violation of human rights in East Jerusalem, and uses increasingly forceful measures against that population.

It is indisputable that the law enforcement authorities must act to curb violence. However, the draconian measures currently being taken against Palestinians in East Jerusalem amount to collective punishment of a population that lives under occupation and already suffers systematic discrimination.