Israel Police Arrest East Jerusalem School Strike Organizer

Parents ask Israel Police to sign agreement not to operate near academic institutions ■ Previous verbal commitment violated daily, residents say

Teenagers sit on the street during a school strike, Isawiyah, East Jerusalem, November 4, 2019
Emil Salman

Israel Police summoned two members of a parents' committee leading a school strike in the neighborhood of Isawiyah in East Jerusalem on Monday- and arrested one of them.

Yasser Darwish was also arrested during a previous action by the parent's committee, with his release conditional on the strike coming to an end. Following the arrest, violent clashes broke out again between police and residents, during which three minors aged 16 and 17 were arrested. 

Clashes between Israel Police and protesters, Isawiyah, November 2, 2019

About 4,500 Isawiyah students have kept out of school since Saturday, November 2, after police officers raided a high school to arrest a 16-year-old suspected of throwing rocks at the police.

The parents' committee is now demanding the police sign an agreement not to operate near academic institutions as a condition for ending the strike.

This summer, Jerusalem District Police carried out daily wide-scale raids in the East Jerusalem neighborhood. It conducted routine afternoon patrols and set up roadblocks, randomly stopping passersby for inspection, only to come back at night to arrest residents.

Earlier in September, at the beginning of the school year, the  parents' committee expressed their concern that attending school during police operations was endangering students, and announced a strike to protest the practice.

Following the announcement, heads of the committee were summoned to meet with Jerusalem Police Chief Doron Yadid and Mayor Moshe Leon. They made the verbal commitment to call out the strike as long as police activity did not interfere with the school routine.

The police said they have tried to avoid operating near the schools since the beginning of the academic year, but on Saturday they were forced to pursue a suspect into a school building after he hurled rocks at them and fled.

Israel Police arrest a 9-year-old boy, Isawiyah, East Jerusalem, November 3, 2019

But some Isawiyah residents claim the police have violated the agreement every day since it was reached. A member of the parents' committee, Ra’ad Abu Rial, said police officers patrol the neighborhood every morning at about 7 A.M.

On Sunday, Jerusalem municipality and education ministry officials attempted to negotiate an end to the strike, but without any results. The parents refused a request from the city to re-open the al-Amal special education school.

Jerusalem City Hall said it is in contact with parents and teaching staff, and is hoping to return the students to their studies as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, police operations in the neighborhood are continuing. On Sunday afternoon, a 9-year-old was detained on suspicion of disturbing the peace. He was let go after about an hour.