In First Since 2015 'Knife Intifada,' Police Blocks Road in East Jerusalem Neighborhood

Residents say action was taken because some Palestinian children had been throwing stones at the Border Police outpost near the neighborhood ■ Police claim perpetrators were 'masked men,' add blocks were removed shortly after

Cement blocks on the road in Jabal Mukkaber, East Jerusalem, October 8, 2018
Emil Salman

Police bulldozers on Monday set up large concrete blocks on Al Madaras Street in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal Mukkaber, blocking it completely to vehicular traffic.

According to the residents, the action was taken because some Palestinian children had been throwing stones at the Border Police outpost near the neighborhood.

Concrete blocks had been placed on sidewalks in the area for a number of weeks in 2015 following a spate of knife attacks, during which the road was closed, but the blocks were subsequently placed on the sidewalks, and the road was reopened and has remained open until now.

“They asked the police what happened and they said some boy had thrown stones, and that’s what the officer decided. But that’s collective punishment and it just ignites the area,” a local resident, Mahmoud Awisat, said.

Israel Police has issued a response, saying: "During the last week, a number of incidents occurred in which masked men in this street attacked Border policemen stationed near the residential homes by throwing stones at them, thus endangering the lives of the neighborhood's residents. Jabal Mukkaber residents, the local leadership among them, are in constant contact with Israel Police and are party to building the different processes initiated and led by Israel Police for two years."

Cement blocks on the road in Jabal Mukkaber, East Jerusalem, October 8, 2018
Emil Salman

The aforementioned processes, the statement said, are solely meant to allow the best policing services to the residents of East Jerusalem, and those of Jabal Mukkaber in particular.

"The closing of the road was done following a local, specific decision and for several hours only, however, after understanding were reached on the matter with the local leadership, the blockage was removed from the road and it is now open for vehicular traffic," the statement said.

It added that Israeli police "will not allow any man to throw stones at security forces, residents and people who use the road, and will act with zero tolerance while exercising policing measures against such outlaws at any time and any place."