Israel Police Arrest 25 in East Jerusalem Neighborhood, Despite Vow to Ease Crackdown

For the past three months police have been coming to Isawiyah daily and arrested more than 350 people, although indictments were only filed against less than 10 people

Palestinians are arrested during clashes with Israeli police in Jerusalem's neighborhood of Issawiya, June 28, 2019
Mahmoud Illean/AP

The Israel Police arrested overnight Sunday 25 Palestinians, among them minors, in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Isawiyah on suspicion that they had hurled firebombs and rocks at policemen and fellow civilians. 

"The arrests tonight come in wake of other arrests of suspects who were caught in the act recently, after they hurled rocks and firebombs toward policemen," the police said in a statement and added that police officers used "covert and visible methods to identify the suspects."

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The Jerusalem Magistrate's Court ordered to extend the remand of some of the suspects by two-three days. 

Over the past three months, police arrived at the neighborhood on a daily basis and carried out more than 350 arrests – although indictments were only filed against less than 10 Isawiyah residents. Locals told Haaretz that all the suspects arrested overnight Sunday had already been arrested at least once during the extended police crackdown on the neighborhood.

Tensions have spiked in the neighborhood in recent days after police increased their presence there. In one instance, a firebomb struck close to a police car and caused it damage. Residents claims that in some cases policemen deployed tear gas unprompted. In another incident policemen broke into a home in Isawiyah and interrogated an 11-year-old girl who documented stone-hurling from the roof of her house. The child denied the accusation. 

The chief of the Jerusalem District Police, Doron Yadid, told reporters that the police intend to continue the arrests in the neighborhood "until they stop throwing rocks at every police car driving by." He added that there was no agreement between the police and locals as to how police should operate in Isawyiah.

Last week parents threatened to shut down the local school on the grounds that police forces were still operating around it, despite Yadid’s promise to eliminate police presence in the vicinity of the schools during school hours.

Early this month, Haaretz reported that the police, Jerusalem city hall, and residents of Isawiyah had reached an accord to scale back police operations in the neighborhood, which had intensified as of early summer. The residents for their part agreed to call off the school strike and the police agreed to release two members of the parents committee who were under arrest.

It was Yadid who asked to meet with representatives of the parents committee after the strike threat. The parents complained about the way the police treat residents of Isawiyah and argued that it constituted collective punishment.

Sources in the neighborhood say the police promised to scale back its forces coming into the neighborhood at night – and indeed some easing has been sensed in the last two days.