September 18, 2019
Just prior to September 1, Al-Issawiya residents and the local parents’ committee announced they would refrain from sending their children to school due to the unsafe and hostile environment generated by the constant armed police presence on neighborhood streets. Parents conditioned their children’s school attendance for the new academic year on the police halting its daily raids into the neighborhood, which have continued unabated for nearly three months.
Due to the potential disruption of the school year, the municipal education board demanded the intervention of Jerusalem Mayor, Moshe Leon, who pressured the police to reduce its activity in the neighborhood to allow for schools to open as scheduled. Consequently, the police agreed to limit its presence and operations, particularly that of the Border Police and Anti-Riot Units and agreed that there would be no armed forces on the streets during children’s commutes to and from school. Neighborhood schools subsequently opened September 1.
While there was a modest drop in the police presence and altercations with area residents for approximately one week, hostile police incursions by para-military forces resumed September 7 for no apparent reason, reneging on the agreement to reduce their operations. Since Thursday, September 12, paramilitary forces have been operating daily in the neighborhood and have employed severe measures, including the use of stun grenades and tear gas in confined spaces. In one incident, the police fired tear gas adjacent to Al-Issawiya’s main mosque during evening prayers, injuring dozens of Muslim worshippers praying inside. Despite his intervention prior to September 1, the Jerusalem Mayor has yet to intervene to prevent the agreement he facilitated from collapsing.
Likewise, the Israel Police published on Thursday, September 12, its alleged conclusions from their internal investigation into the case of police officers planting a military-grade weapon in the home of an Al-Issawiya resident to obtain footage for the Jerusalem District docudrama about the city’s police forces. The Israel Police asserted the officers in question bear no responsibility for planting the firearm, acted in good faith and to the best of their ability, thereby absolving them from any potential disciplinary action.