In 2019, many more Palestinian families in East Jerusalem demolished their own homes, which were built without permits. They did this to avoid the high fees the city would have charged them for carrying out the demolition itself. Through the end of March, 15 homes were demolished in this way. Israel does not see East Jerusalem residents as equal citizens and barely allows them to build legally. When, given no other choice, they build homes without permits, the municipality demolishes them – all as part of a policy to Judaize Jerusalem.
Israel has long been implementing a policy aimed at cleansing East Jerusalem of Palestinians, using a variety of unlawful means: prohibiting construction; home demolition; not investing in services and infrastructure; and not allowing spouses from elsewhere in the West Bank and Gaza to live with their Jerusalem spouses. In recent years, the number of settlers moving into the heart of Palestinian neighborhoods has risen, with the approval, backing, funding and aid of Israeli authorities. We bring you the testimonies of two Palestinians whose families have recently been targeted by this policy.
On 10 Feb. 2019, police came to the Abu Ryalahs’ home at 4:00 A.M. and arrested Adam, 13. He was taken to a police station and interrogated for hours with no parent present, for allegedly throwing stones. This is not unusual. The Israeli authorities do not treat Palestinian minors in East Jerusalem as entitled to special protections and routinely abuse their rights. This policy, which the law enforcement system would never dare use against other groups in Israel, has been openly employed against hundreds of Palestinian teens a year for decades.
On 10 Jan. 2019, plain-clothed Israeli police arrived at Dr. Karim Hussein’s home in Jabal al-Mukabber, East Jerusalem. They demanded he hand over security camera footage, even though they had explicitly arranged to collect it the next day from his brother’s home. The officers insisted on coming inside, despite refusing to present a search warrant. A confrontation ensued with other family members who arrived on the scene and thought that civilians were assaulting their relatives. One officer beat Dr. Hussein on the head and he lost consciousness. This incident is but another example of the violent, arbitrary police conduct that has long since become part of the daily life in East Jerusalem.
Yesterday, Israeli High Court justices Barak-Erez, Baron and Elron rejected an appeal filed by 104 residents of Silwan to overturn a September 2002 decision by the Custodian of Absentee Property to "free" the land on which they have lived for decades. The land was "freed" by three people - all closely affiliated with Ateret Cohanim, a settler association that works to Judaize East Jerusalem. In the judgment, written by Justice Barak-Erez, the Court's role is narrowed down to examining several questions relating to administrative law. In choosing this avenue, the Court sent the residents back to fight, against all odds, the civil proceedings that Ateret Cohanim has undertaken in order to evict them from their homes.
At about 10:00 o’clock on the morning of Wednesday, 7 February 2018, Jerusalem Municipality inspectors arrived at the neighborhood of Wadi Yasul in Silwan with a bulldozer and a Border Police escort. They demolished the home of a Palestinian family of six, including four minors.
Ten Palestinians were killed and hundreds injured when Israeli troops used live gunfire during protests sparked by President Trump’s declaration on Jerusalem. Live gunfire is permitted only in case of immediate mortal danger that cannot be otherwise averted. The great number of Palestinian casualties will probably be addressed no differently from thousands of past cases of excessive and unlawful use of live gunfire. With the MAG Corps at the helm, those responsible for these deaths will be afforded protection instead of being held to account.
On 8 Sept. 2017, during a demonstration in the a-Sheikh Jarah neighborhood of East Jerusalem, police officers arrested ‘A.H., 15, assaulted his mother, and released him an hour later. They also arrested his brother M.H., 13, interrogated him, and obtained his signature on a statement written in Hebrew. He was released on bail at about 10:30 PM and spent five days under house arrest. This conduct is consistent with Israel’s policy on the detention of minors in East Jerusalem, which entails the systematic violation of their rights.
On 22 Aug. 2017 police officers came to a family home in the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem. They put a gun to the head of the father, locked the rest of the family in the kitchen, and searched the house. They then assaulted the mother and her daughter, aged 15, shackled the daughter, and took her away for interrogation. The daughter was released after interrogation. Such behavior forms part of official Israeli policy in East Jerusalem that entails the systemic violation of the rights of minors during detention.
Israel’s regime of occupation is inextricably bound up in human rights violations. B’Tselem strives to end the occupation, as that is the only way forward to a future in which human rights, democracy, liberty and equality are ensured to all people, both Palestinian and Israeli, living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.