Israel to Place East Jerusalem Residents Under Nighttime Curfew in Rare Move

Six young Palestinians with Israeli residency notified of army's plan to employ British Mandate-era regulations, hardly ever used in areas annexed by Israel

Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson
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Israeli forces tour the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Isawiyah, November 16, 2019.
Israeli forces tour the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Isawiyah, November 16, 2019.Credit: Emil Salman
Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson

Israel has notified six Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem of its intention to place them under nighttime curfew for several months, in an unusual move to use British Mandate-era emergency regulations against permanent Israeli residents in an area annexed by Israel.

The Home Front Command's action to serve them with administrative injunctions over "sensitive information" about their alleged activities comes amid an ongoing Israeli campaign in their neighborhood of Issawiya, which led to the arrest of over 600 residents but only a handful of indictments.

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The injunctions employed in this case give extensive authority to military commanders, and are generally used for demolitions and detention without trial almost exclusively in the West Bank, rather than within Israeli territory.

However, neither Palestinian nor Israeli lawyers who work in Jerusalem can remember a Home Front commander ever issuing personal administrative detention orders, as Maj. Gen. Tamir Yadai intends to do now.

The Israel Defense Forces said that such a decision "is made when defense officials have information pointing to a public security risk. This information ... is based on classified intelligence, which can't be released."

Issawiya residents notified of Israel's plan to place them under curfew pose for a photo in Jerusalem, December 2019.

The injunctions will apply to the six men, who have been charged in the past with disrupting public order. According to the notifications they received of Yadai's intention to employ the 1945 emergency rules against them, they will be restricted to their homes during the night for several months.

The reason stated was information presented by security officials, which pointed to alleged risks posed by them. One of them was told: “You are a terror activist in your neighborhood. As such, you are known to be involved in disrupting public order and in throwing Molotov cocktails.”

They were given 48 hours to respond to the notices they received. The injunctions are expected to be issued in the next few days.

One of the men who received the notice is Anwar Abid, 22, who was in prison for four years in the past. He was arrested 13 times over the last year, three of those times in October. In none of these cases was he charged and he was released shortly afterwards, under restrictions.

Jerusalem residents protest over-policing in Isawiyah, November 16, 2019.Credit: Emil Salman

The daily Israeli campaign continues in Isawiyah. Early Sunday morning, the police swept through the neighborhood again, detaining 15 residents in their homes. Most of them were released after several hours. Some of them related that the police had warned them that if they didn’t take action to stop the stone throwing, the police would take away their Israeli residence status.

This is a questionable legal move, since such status cannot be easily revoked. Only a small number of people in East Jerusalem have had their residency revoked after committing acts of terror in which Israelis were killed.