Lockdown in East Jerusalem: Harsh Policies Come Amid Intensifying Violence
Rights groups condemned the new security measures, calling them a 'recipe for harassment and abuse'
East Jerusalem is in lockdown as of Wednesday after the Israeli military erected checkpoints around the occupied territory as the repression of Palestinian protesters took a severe turn.
According to reports, a 14-year-old Palestinian boy was shot dead early Wednesday by Israeli forces at the city's Damascus Gate after allegedly wielding a knife. Locals told reporters that 12 Palestinian students were also detained by military after early morning raids in two East Jerusalem neighborhoods.
Ma’an News Agency, quoting local official Muhammad Abu al-Hummus, reports, "the forces were issuing citations to Palestinian drivers at random. Israeli security also inspected several Palestinian youths and students in 'humiliating' ways, forcing them to take off their clothes."
The teenager's shooting death brings the total number of Palestinians killed since October 1 to 31, with an estimated 17 shot dead at demonstrations. At least seven Israelis have also been killed in the same time period.
A statement issued by the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israeli police are now authorized to "impose a closure on, or to surround, centers of friction and incitement in Jerusalem, in accordance with security considerations."
The statement also said that a so-called terrorist's house that has been demolished will not be rebuilt, and that the permanent residency rights of the individual will be revoked and their property confiscated. Further, military units will be deployed to reinforce police in cities and on main routes, and 300 security guards will be recruited to secure public transportation in the capital.
Israeli forces have also been deployed in and around Jerusalem's Old City, Ma'an notes.
Human Rights Watch condemned the measures, calling them a "recipe for harassment and abuse."
"Locking down East Jerusalem neighborhoods will infringe upon the freedom of movement of all Palestinian residents rather than being a narrowly tailored response to a specific concern," it said in a statement.
The police lockdown comes after what reports said was the most violent day since Israel began imposing controversial new rules on the al-Asqua Mosque compound late last month, setting off a new wave of protests against the occupation, which have been met with brutal force.
As Brad Parker, an attorney and international advocacy officer with Defense for Children International, wrote Tuesday, the recent relaxing by the Israeli government of "live-fire" rules has given Israeli police a "green light" to use live ammunition against Palestinian stone throwers, who are mostly youths—amounting to what he says is effectively a "war on Palestinian children."
Since that time, 366 Palestinians have been shot with live fire, 932 with rubber-coated steel bullets, and 2,365 have been injured by tear gas, according to the Red Crescent. Dozens of Israelis have also been injured, mainly in rogue stabbing attacks.
However, as critics have noted, much of the mainstream media reporting has focused on the violence against Israeli citizens and have either neglected to include the context of the ongoing occupation or have buried the significant number of Palestinian fatalities.
Yousef Munayyer, the executive director of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, told Al Jazeera that news outlets that fail to disclose "the conditions that Palestinians live under that is really fueling the resentment and the anger that is leading so many of these young Palestinians to take actions themselves in these way — in stabbings, in protests" are failing to provide their audiences with information vital to making sense of tragic events.
International protests in solidarity with Palestinians are planned for this coming weekend.