Outraged that police have blocked the two main entrances to their neighborhood with concrete slabs amid chronic rioting, hundreds of residents of east Jerusalem’s Isawiya neighborhood gathered Wednesday to demand their removal and cessation of what they deem unjust “collective punishment.”
“We’re not throwing rocks or participating in riots!” shouted an angered middle-aged Arab man from a megaphone, a few meters from a wall of heavily armed riot police near one of the barricades leading to Hebrew University.
“We just want the roads to open!” Behind him, a group of residents held placards stating “We are against collective punishment,” “No permission to build in east Jerusalem,” and, “East Jerusalem is being strangled.”
Isawiya resident Darwish Darwish, who said he divides his time between New York City and his home in the Arab community, said the roadblocks have only heightened tensions between Arabs and Jews.
“Because they set up road blocks for 11 days, no one can come in or out by car unless they drive through the outskirts of town and that takes over 30 minutes,” he said. “We work in the Jewish areas and we can’t get to work and our kids can’t get to school.”