One Palestinian Hurt as Israel Police Disrupt Muslim Holiday Celebrations in East Jerusalem

Police have been entering the village daily, writing reports, searching and detaining residents as part of enhanced law enforcement campaign that has been going on for two months

A police officer speaks on the phone in Isawiyah, East Jerusalem, July 2019.
Emil Salman

An Isawiyah resident was injured by a sponge-tipped bullet fired by policemen as they disrupted the celebration of Eid al-Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice. While most of the village’s inhabitants were sitting down to a festive meal, a large police force arrived, entering the Masri family’s parking lot and shooting point blank at a person’s leg.

School principal Khader Abeid said, “this is the first time we’ve celebrated the festival without opening holiday booths, with no shopping or preparations.” Police activity in Isawiyah during the holiday is part of an enhanced law enforcement campaign that has been going on for two months.

A video recording of the incident shows policemen running into the parking lot and pushing Karim Masri. The shooting is not seen in the video but can be heard clearly. In later videos, children are seen crying due to the violence and police presence.

>> read more: Israel is leading East Jerusalem Palestinians down a predestined path ■ Why Israeli Police are terrorizing this Palestinian village

Footage of the police firing sponge-tipped bullets Isawiyah

“We were having a party, my brothers, our children and wives” relates Masri, a teacher of 32.

“Maybe someone threw something at them from somewhere else. I was worried about the children and approached a policeman to tell them to be careful. He didn’t let me speak. Someone shoved me and the other shot me point blank. Then they started beating everyone there, my brothers, my mother, everyone.”

No one was arrested, and Masri has filed a complaint.

In another incident, a resident was arrested after playing with his three-year-old son with a plastic pistol. The man said he was beaten while being arrested. “I didn’t see them coming. I told them it was plastic but they started beating me. I was handcuffed and taken to the station, continually beaten all the way. I heard them say they’d caught a terrorist.” Police confirmed it wasn’t a real gun, but the man was summoned again the next day.

Police have been entering the village daily, writing reports, searching and detaining residents. Many businesses remain closed. “People are afraid, you think twice before leaving home” says Abeid. At night, homes are raided and searched.

Promises by senior police officers that the campaign would stop have not been kept. Residents claim policeman are waiting for stones to be thrown so they can respond with violence.

Dozens of residents in an adjacent Jewish neighborhood have asked the authorities to suspend these operations. Police insist they are responding to stone throwing incidents and other interference in their work.