Israeli Troops Enter East Jerusalem Beyond Separation Wall to Enforce Coronavirus Rules

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Israeli forces in Kafr Aqab, Jerusalem, April 23, 2020.
Israeli forces in Kafr Aqab, Jerusalem, April 23, 2020. Credit:

Israeli police, soldiers and municipal inspectors entered a neighborhood within Jerusalem’s boundaries but outside the separation barrier to enforce the coronavirus social-distancing and lockdown restrictions.

The army’s activities in the area are not at all routine, in part because soldiers do not have the authority to make arrests in Jerusalem.

On Thursday, in the northern neighborhood of Kafr Aqab, the forces removed signs put up by the Palestinian Authority but did not issue fines or make arrests.

This week, Israel told the Palestinian police not to enter Kafr Aqab to help residents enforce the coronavirus regulations. Since the battle against the virus began, the government has let armed Palestinian forces operate in the neighborhood at least twice to enforce the regulations.

On Wednesday, the local council in Kafr Aqab was left trying to enforce a lockdown because Israeli authorities normally do not operate in the area. “People aren’t heeding the rules,” one resident said. “Israel doesn’t want the PA forces to help us, so it should come and help us instead.”

Israel’s police force bans the PA from operating inside Jerusalem and two weeks ago it even closed a clinic for coronavirus testing that had been opened with the help of the PA in the Silwan neighborhood.

Thus many residents of East Jerusalem who wanted to get tested traveled to Jericho or Ramallah in the West Bank.

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