PROTESTERS GATHER in Jerusalem’s Safra Square Sunday morning to protest the arrest of Arab children in east Jerusalem.
(photo credit: COURTESY OF FREE JERUSALEM)
Dozens of demonstrators gathered in front of the capital’s City Hall in Safra Square Sunday morning to protest the arrests and detentions of Arab children by police around east Jerusalem schools.
According to Free Jerusalem and members of a-Tur’s PTA, which organized the demonstration, police routinely apprehend children suspected of illegal activity near schools, disrupting their learning environment.
“We came to ask the police and soldiers to not come near our schools,” said PTA member Khader Abu Sibitan in a statement.
“We do not want problems, we have a clear request: that police and soldiers leave our schools alone!” Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the majority of arrests involving minors in east Jerusalem stem from rock-throwing aimed at police and Jewish vehicles in Arab neighborhoods.
“Police carry out community policing on a regular basis and only make arrests when the law is broken,” said Rosenfeld. “Suspects are brought in when they break the law, including minors, who are always questioned with their parents or a lawyer present.”
According to Free Jerusalem’s Facebook page, police have been stationed at the entrances of east Jerusalem schools since last summer without any coordination with the schools’ principals.
“Police presence in schools increases the tension, causing unnecessary friction and stone-throwing by youth,” it said, noting that children have been wounded by tear gas, skunk spray and sponge-covered bullets during riots.
“Stop child detentions, and allow residents of east Jerusalem to receive a proper education,” it continued.
Rosenfeld said each detention of a minor is investigated, and reiterated that it only occurs when the law is broken.