Israel Locks Down East Jerusalem Neighborhood

JERUSALEM, November 4, 2015 (WAFA) – Israeli police Wednesday declared the neighborhood of Ras al-Jabal in Jerusalem a closed military zone, and forced owners of commercial shops to lock them down, according to local sources.

Wadi Hilweh Information Center (WHIC) said Israeli police snipers mounted the rooftops of many homes in the area and imposed a curfew for a few hours, under the pretext that a top Israeli official was visiting the area.

Meanwhile, multiple schools remained locked down in the nearby Ras al-Amoud neighborhood for the second consecutive day, due to the continuing Israeli closure and strict restrictions on Palestinians’ movement in the area.

WHIC said Israel’s closure of the area also hindered the movement of workers, merchants, civil employees and students in the area in the morning, provoking clashes between Israeli police, youths and students.

Police used stun grenades, teargas and toxic gas canisters to disperse the protesting students and youths, causing multiple cases of suffocation among minor students due to teargas inhalation.

For three weeks now, Israeli police set three checkpoints in Ras al-Amoud, hindering the free movement of thousands of Palestinians, mainly school students.

On Tuesday, Israeli police attempted to raid several schools in the area, but they failed to do so as they were confronted by the schools’ administrative staff. Police also summoned a school’s principal in Ras al-Amoud to appear for interrogation.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, police forces stormed the neighborhood of al-Issawiya in Jerusalem, provoking confrontations with local Palestinians.

In mid-October 2015, the Israeli cabinet announced that Israeli police would be entitled to “impose a closure on” what it described as “centers of friction and incitement in Jerusalem” and “in accordance with security considerations.”

The cabinet also approved the revocation of residency status for Palestinians who carry out attacks on Israeli targets.

Israeli human rights group B’Tselem has called the Israeli government’s response to recent escalation in the area as “the very inverse of what ought to be done” toward ending the violence.

Tension has been running high across the West Bank districts and Jerusalem since early October 2015, mainly due to provocative visits by Jewish fanatics to the city’s al-Aqsa Mosque compound, the third holiest place in Islam.

Since early October, Israeli police and army killed 74 Palestinians, while over 2,240 others have been injured.