About three weeks ago, the police launched a major enforcement campaign to collect debts and fines in the Issawiya neighborhood of East Jerusalem. The campaign included the blocking of the main road to the neighborhood and massive disruption of daily life.
The events in Issawiya reached a peak last Thursday, after residents of the neighborhood organized a non-violent demonstration together with Israeli activists to protest against the weeks of rigid enforcement. Testimonies from the residents suggest that the demonstration ended without any unusual incidents. Despite this, the same evening police and Border Guard forces raided the neighborhood and clashes erupted with residents. The conduct of the police, including the firing of sponge bullets and even live ammunition at the residents, led to the killing of the youth Muhammad Abid, who was shot at close range by a police officer.
Today (4 July 2019) we wrote to the Commander of the Jerusalem District Police, Commissioner Doron Yedid, demanding that the police moderate its harsh policy against the residents of the neighborhood and its policy of selective enforcement, which includes arrests, nighttime raids, the inspection of every vehicle entering and leaving the neighborhood, and the systemic and stubborn handing out of reports for trivial offenses. In the letter, Attorneys Tal Hassin and Abeer Jubran Dakwar noted that this policy is essentially intended to deter and threaten the residents. It constitutes improper collective punishment and serves only to fuel tension and encourage escalation.
“It is hard to ignore the thread that connects the events in Issawiya and the conduct of the police during the demonstrations by Israelis of Ethiopian origin over recent days,” the attorneys noted. “In both instances, a young man was shot dead by the police. In both instances, the police officer stated that he felt that his life was in danger. In both cases, the young men came from minority groups that face persistent profiling by the police.” ACRI is demanding that the police moderate its tough approach in Issawiya, complete the investigation of the police officer who killed Abid, and publish the finding of its investigation.