Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Jerusalem Police Chief Yoram Halevy attend an inaugural ceremony for the first police station in Shuafat refugee camp on Sunday.
(photo credit: POLICE SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
The first fully integrated community police station in the Shuafat refugee camp opened on Sunday morning as part of a NIS 1 billion restructuring initiative to heighten security in the capital’s Arab sector. The initiative will feature six police centers in flashpoint neighborhoods, 1,200 additional officers and nearly 200 extra CCTV cameras that are intended to monitor terrorist activity and crime in the volatile neighborhoods.
The five additional stations will be built in Jebl Mukaber, Isawiya, Beit Safafa, A-Tur and Sur Bahir. Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh, Jerusalem Police Chief Yoram Halevy and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat attended Sunday’s inaugural ribbon-cutting ceremony for the facility.
“The opening of the station is intended to strengthen the enforcement of law and order in the neighborhoods of east Jerusalem and to provide all the police services to the residents of the neighborhoods, combined with other municipal services,” Halevy said.
“In addition, integrated community outreach within the framework of the station will improve the sense of personal security of residents of east Jerusalem and will lead to strengthening mutual trust between the police and residents,” he said.
Since it was established in 1965, the Shuafat refugee camp has doubled in size, and many of its approximately 80,000 residents have not received proper police services or other municipal support.
Erdan lauded the new police station as a symbolic game-changer in law enforcement in east Jerusalem as the capital approaches the 50th anniversary of its reunification.
“Today, we are taking another step toward historic change with the introduction of police services into the Arab sector and the enforcement of law and order, which must exist throughout Jerusalem,” he said at the ceremony, adding: “There is no better time to implement this than as we mark the 50th anniversary of the reunification of our capital.”
Citing an already heightened police presence in the eastern portion of the capital, a Shuafat resident, who requested anonymity, said additional officers will make a “bad situation even worse. It’s a mistake, because when I see more police I think, ‘OK, they will close our streets, they will come into our homes, and I will have to leave for work an hour earlier because there will be more checkpoints.’” Former east Jerusalem portfolio head and Meretz City Councilman Meir Margalit said the money being used to construct the police stations would be better spent on social welfare and education initiatives.
“This is not the way to solve the problems in east Jerusalem,” he said. “The education and welfare situation is so bad that one million policemen will not contain the next intifada.”
The next police station is scheduled to open later this year in Sur Bahir.