Israeli Collective Punishment Measures Suffocate Jerusalem When Palestinian, everyone pays the price

  • Date: 2017-02-10

Since the escalation of events in October 2015, and the wave of violence and instability witnessed especially in East Jerusalem, Israeli authorities have expanded the use of extreme punitive measures on all Palestinian Jerusalemites without exception. Punitive measures affect the entire city, indiscriminately violating the basic rights of Palestinian Jerusalemites, such as the right to adequate housing, freedom of movement, residency, freedom of expression, right to education and freedom of religion. When the perpetrator of an alleged attack is Palestinian, every other Palestinian will pay the price. However, when the perpetrator of a similar attack or even a graver one is Jewish, no such punitive measures are taken against the family or the community the attacker belongs to. Under international law, collective punishment is prohibited. Such systematic collective punitive procedures impede every detail of daily lives and choices for Palestinians, and lead to their forcible displacement from the only city they call home.

Punitive House Demolitions: punitive demolitions take place under the pretext that a member of the family was accused of carrying out an attack against Israel. The punitive demolitions are carried out vis-à-vis Regulation 119 of the 1945 Emergency (Defense) Regulations, which date back to the British mandate. They have been a prominent measure employed by Israel for the purposes of displacing families and leaving them homeless as a message by the authorities believing that this would deter future attacks. Since the alleged perpetrator of an attack rarely lives in a house alone, punitive demolitions mean that entire families and neighborhoods are displaced; living under impossible financial and living conditions. Demolitions also damage the houses around the attackers’ houses, as well as sealing a certain room in the house or the entire house damage entire buildings punitively effecting random families and houses. Most recently in Jabal Al Mukabbir, and after one of its residents carried out a truck ramming attack which left four Israeli soldiers dead in East Jerusalem in January 2017, Israeli authorities handed random demolition warnings throughout the entire neighborhood.

Punitive Residency Revocation: In 1967, Israel illegally annexed Jerusalem, but not its original Palestinian citizens. It gave them the peculiar status of “permanent residents”, which does not confer full citizenship rights, and treated them as if they were mere visitors in their own city.  The Israeli Ministry of Interior gives yearly permits that are only given and renewed under many conditions; the center of life aspect which means the family unification application requesters need to prove Jerusalem as their center of life (actual residency in Jerusalem, proof of income, taxes, bank records, education location for children, bills such as electricity water, gas etc.) The Ministry also relies on investigations made by the Israeli national insurance, the appliers, and their direct and extended family, need to always prove and maintain a clear criminal and security record. Punitive residency revocations and punitive bans from Jerusalem are being practiced in two cases: under the “breach of allegiance” aspect[1], and again in cases where a member of a family is accused of committing an attack, the entire family is punished, such as Abu Jamal family, Dweiat family and Qunbar family, also resulting in the geographical separation of families. More recently, 12 members from Al Qunbar family are at risk of having their residencies revoked as a punitive measure. The Israeli minister of Interior, Arye Deri supported these punitive actions when he stated “From now on, anyone who plots, plans or considers carrying out an attack will know that his family will pay a heavy price for his actions”.

Right to Education & Punitive arrests: Palestinian students are no exception to the punitive oppressive measures imposed on Palestinians in Jerusalem. Such measures include breaking into Palestinian schools, school closures, harassing and humiliating students on their way to school and inside schools. Such measures do not only impede the basic right to education and violate children rights, they also leave long lasting negative impacts on an entire generations’ security, stability and performance. Furthermore, Jerusalem has witnessed a dramatic increase in random arrests of Palestinians including children since the event of October 2015.

Freedom of movement, freedom of religion and punitive closures: The restriction of movement by the Israeli occupation in Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories dates from the 90s, and the ongoing settlements expansion is an excuse for the Israeli authorities to continue imposing even stricter restrictions of movement on Palestinians. 

These restrictions vary: the annexation wall, temporary and permanent checkpoints, road closures, blockades, curfews, permit requests for West bankers to access Palestinian occupied territories and security bans. In Jerusalem in particular, repressive procedures also target freedom of movement as Israeli forces constantly close entire areas in East - Jerusalem and main roads denying Palestinians from moving freely and from reaching services such as health, work and educational institutions amongst others. Punitive stores closures add to the suffocation of East Jerusalem, since it strongly affects the economic development and sustainability of the city. Such restrictions evidently increase significantly during periods of attacks targeting “heated” areas. This creates a general state of fear of movement and terror in Jerusalem. Restriction on movement on Palestinians also affects their freedom to practice their religion on daily basis. Closures of areas and in particular in the old city are put in place during religious holidays of Muslims and Christians. Denying them access to their worship places; the entrances of the Dome of the rock mosque were transformed to security checkpoints by Israeli authorities disturbing Jerusalemites from moving freely in the old city and depriving them from practicing their religion freely.

As a response to this clear breach of human basic rights and international law, The Society of St. Yves – Catholic Center for Human Rights has filed an appeal to the Israeli High Court against the policy of stores closures leading to influences the city’s dynamic, economic sustainability  and development. The appeal also targets the repetition of these closures by Israeli Police and Special Forces. Israeli forces break in those stores and assault their owners. St. Yves demanded an immediate cease of such practices as they jeopardize the security and stability of the city, and as they are purely and clearly discriminatory procedures with an evident purpose of deporting Palestinians from Jerusalem.  In this regard, St. Yves highlights the fact that it documents violations and punitive procedures against Palestinians by Israeli forces. St. Yves has previously also filed a complaint against the Israeli Minister of Public Security and the Israeli Police, and of their discriminatory and punitive approach that cannot be justified by any means since it strongly violates basic human rights of Jerusalemites, most importantly the right to life.

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