Jerusalem24 – In scenes reminiscent of October 2022, when Palestinians rose to protest an Israeli siege on Shuafat refugee camp, Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem have begun answering calls for a campaign of “civil disobedience” in the face of increasingly repressive Israeli measures against Palestinian Jerusalemites.
The campaign includes implementing a full strike with all commercial outlets closed; Palestinian laborers refusing to work inside Israel; and local youth blocking entrance roads to Israeli forces.
The Palestinian town of Al-Issawiya as well as Shuafat refugee camp initiated the call, which was then joined by Al-Ram, Al-Tur, and Jabal Al-Mukaber.
Jabal Al-Mukaber has been the scene of an increasing number of home demolitions under the directive of far-right extremist and Israeli Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir, with five houses demolished and 36 people including 21 children rendered homeless in the last three weeks. On 13 February, 25 people including journalist Al-Jazeera journalist Wael Salayma were injured by sponge-tipped metal bullets during protests against house demolitions in the neighborhood.
Confrontations between residents and Israeli forces in various areas of occupied East Jerusalem have been taking place on a nightly basis following an “operation” launched by Ben-Gvir aiming to “bring order back” to Jerusalem.
#Thread: A boiling East Jerusalem
A wide day of rage starting from tonight in several Palestinian towns throughout East Jerusalem, against Israeli occupation policies towards the Palestinians including house demolitions, but also in support for the Lion’s Den call from Nablus. pic.twitter.com/o7ddV2She0
— Younis | يونس (@ytirawi) February 18, 2023
Confrontations are ongoing in the Palestinian towns of occupied East Jerusalem after residents declared a full strike and “civil disobedience” in the face of increasingly repressive Israeli measures and collective punishments. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/DGU2TzGV5Q
— Jerusalem24 (@J24FMPalestine) February 19, 2023
Ben-Gvir’s war on Jerusalem
The extreme right-wing Netanyahu administration has been stepping up punitive measures against Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem since coming into office in late December, with an increased rate of home demolitions, demolishing 65 structures including 16 inhabited residential homes and displacing at least 90 people including 49 children so far.
These repressive measures have increased following attacks in occupied East Jerusalem which killed ten Israeli settlers including three children in January.
Following the first of these attacks, Ben-Gvir called to launch “Operation Defensive Shield 2” in Jerusalem, referring to a month-long Israeli military invasion of several cities in the occupied West Bank in 2002 during the Second intifada that killed hundreds of Palestinians including 55 children as young as three years old.
He also promised to further increase the rate of demolitions of Palestinian homes in occupied East Jerusalem, brought up the possibility of imposing “a full lockdown” in Palestinian Jerusalemites, and called to establish the death penalty for Palestinian attackers.
In response to residents confronting Israeli forces, Ben-Gvir tweeted on Sunday that he “instructed the police to continue the operation” in occupied East Jerusalem: “We will show a firm hand and zero tolerance towards those lawbreakers.”
הנחיתי את המשטרה להמשיך במבצע “ריכוז מאמץ” במזרח ירושלים ואנחנו נגלה יד קשה ואפס סובלנות מול אותם פורעי חוק. שולח הערכה רבה לשוטרים וללוחמים שעובדים קשה בשטח. pic.twitter.com/jV9z92Bapk
— איתמר בן גביר (@itamarbengvir) February 19, 2023
While Ben-Gvir’s proclamations met with criticism and derision from elements within the Israeli security establishment and his own coalition, several of his promised measures have already found footing on the ground, with a focus on home demolitions in East Jerusalem towns, despite Ben-Gvir sparring with Israeli police commissioner Kobi Shabtai over the matter, who told Ben-Gvir he would require an additional 300 officers if he was to enforce the planned number of demolitions.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also announced at the weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday the creation of a “special task force” to fight “incitement” against Israelis, headed by Ben-Gvir.
Ben-Gvir himself has accumulated over 50 charges for incitement on his record and been convicted of incitement to racism.
Not only Ben-Gvir
Despite initial government claims that there was “no intention” to lock down occupied East Jerusalem, Shuafat refugee camp has been experiencing once again near siege-like conditions, with invasive searches and strict questioning of residents by soldiers at Shuafat checkpoint, including schoolchildren.
WATCH | Israeli forces order a Palestinian youth at Shuafat refugee camp checkpoint in occupied East Jerusalem to remove his shirt in the winter weather before beating him, detaining him, and physically assaulting another woman.
Source: Quds News & Younis Tirawi/Twitter (1/2) pic.twitter.com/WlphqvH8T8
— Jerusalem24 (@J24FMPalestine) February 15, 2023
The Israeli security cabinet approved last week the immediate legalization of nine illegal settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank, began the process to legalize additional settlements, and reportedly scheduled the approval of 10,000 additional settlement units.
And on Wednesday, the Israeli Knesset passed with a majority of 94-10 a bill to revoke the citizenship or residency status of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship or residents of occupied East Jerusalem who were convicted of a “terrorism” offence, as well as their family members if they had showed any “public support” for them.
The bill also gives the Israeli government the power to deport attackers and their family members to the occupied West Bank even if the Palestinian Authority refuses to grant them status, rendering the deportees stateless, in breach of both international law and current Israeli domestic law.
These and other measures, which the Israeli government describes as “a deterrent” to further attacks and which Palestinians call “collective punishment”, have been implemented by the Netanyahu administration in the wake of the attacks but were previously put forward by the coalition’s various parties during their electoral campaigns.
Palestinian analysts tell Jerusalem24 that the new bills and policies are rather a continuation of a de facto policy towards Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.