Israeli occupation forces assaulted and detained four Palestinian civilians Friday, December 27, in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of al-Issawiya, according to residents. Police forces physically assaulted the four, beating them up at the entrance to the neighborhood, before arresting them.
Isawiya, located adjacent to Hebrew University’s Mount Scopus campus and Hadassah-University Medical Center, is home to an estimated 22,000 Palestinians. According to residents and activists, police have entered the neighborhood nearly every night since June 12 and have deliberately wreaked havoc to intimidate the residents. In the six months of unrest in Issawiya excessive police brutality and indiscriminate, unjustified daily raids by Israeli forces have left residents of the East Jerusalem neighborhood exhausted – and there is no end in sight.
On December 16, bulldozers of the occupation forces demolished a section of a house in Issawiya under the pretext that it was built without a permit, the Palestinian news agency Wafa reported. Raed Abu Riyala, member of the Issawiya Monitoring Committee, said that Israeli staff of the municipality protected by police sealed off the area where the house was located before proceeding to demolish its second floor. The house, he said, belonged to Hatem Abu Riyala, adding that this is the third time the Israeli municipality has demolished the second floor the family keeps building to accommodate its growing numbers after the municipality keeps denying it a building permit.
According to B’Tselem, the harassment by police varies with intensity. Israeli forces have been “detaining hundreds of residents, including minors, issuing traffic tickets for spurious infractions, serving of house demolition orders, and committing acts of violence.” This violent campaign is not taking place in a vacuum, B’Tselem explained, stating the ultimate goal is to make life unbearable for Palestinians in Issawiya. “It is an inseparable part of Israel’s policy throughout East Jerusalem, which treats the Palestinian residents of the city as unwelcome guests in their own homes, and seeks to perpetuate a demographic majority for Jews.”
Peace and Left activists from Hadash, Free Jerusalem, All That’s Left, and Ir Amim have been sending teams each night to document the harassment. They also hope their presence will reduce the level of police violence on any given night. During the last two months, over every weekend activists have demonstrated in West Jerusalem, calling for an end to alleged police brutality and violence in Issawiya
Demonstrators bring drums, carry red flags and dozens of signs in Hebrew, Arabic and English with a variety of messages including, “Stop police brutality,” “Let Issawiya live,” “Being Palestinian is not a crime,” and “West Jerusalem, wake up!” They also chant slogans such as “In the classrooms, in the streets, kids are taking beatings” and “Issawiya is asking to live in peace and quiet.”
On Saturday, December 7, four people were detained for questioning for protesting against enhanced Israel Police activity in Issawiyah. Some 100 protestors staged a demonstration outside the home of Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon. The protest then moved to Paris Square in Jerusalem, close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Residence. Protesting the detention of the four, demonstrators later marched to the Russian Compound in central Jerusalem, where another man was detained by police for questioning.