A parent committee in East Jerusalem announced Saturday an immediate school strike in protest over the arrest of a 10th-grader on school grounds in the neighborhood of Isawiyah by Israeli policemen.
According to the committee's members, Israeli policemen entering the school contradicts the agreements reached between police and residents earlier this year, according to which the former will not operate near the schools during school hours.
In recent days, tension between police and neighborhood residents has escalated again as a result of increased police activity in the area. In some cases, residents threw stones and Molotov cocktails at the police, who responded with tear gas and stun grenades.
Residents claimed that Israeli police officers walked around the schools this morning trying to provoke students. At one point, police entered the area of the boys' high school, claiming they had thrown some object at them. Witnesses said the school's guard and principal tried prevent the policemen from entering the school, but were pushed back. The officers than arrested a 16-year-old boy at the entrance to the building.
After the arrest, clashes erupted as students threw chairs at the police, who in response hurled stun grenades into the school grounds. Following the arrest, all the elementary and secondary school students were released to their homes, and the parents' committee announced the strike. (In East Jerusalem schools operate on Saturdays).
The Israeli police responded by saying that "since the beginning of the school year, the Israeli police have refrained from carrying out operational activities in the area of educational institutions, with emphasis on student arrival and dispersal times."
"This morning, a police officer who passed by the area, spotted the suspect throwing stones at the police force, and fled into the school grounds. The police proceeded with a brief foot chase that led to his arrest, while at the same time more students began throwing stones and chairs at the policemen. The Israeli police views every case of attacking officers with severity, especially by students who are supposed to be under the supervision of educational staff who are expected to prevent such incidents," Said the police statement.
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Earlier in September, at the beginning of the school year, the parent committee announced a school strike in protest over increased police activity in the neighborhood. The parents then argued that attending school during a police operation was endangering students. Following the decision, heads of the committee were summoned to meetings with the Jerusalem Police Chief, Doron Yadid and Mayor Moshe Lion.
As part of the meetings, the parties reached an agreement under which the parents' committee agreed to cancel the strike on condition that the police activity did not interfere with the school routine.