(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Arab residents of east Jerusalem are subject to a variety of difficulties that
make them feel unsafe in their own homes, according to an extensive report by
the Association for Civil Rights in Israel to be released on Sunday.
highlights the main problems as selective enforcement of residents’ rights,
unlawful detention of minors, little oversight of private security guards for
the Jewish compounds, the use of surveillance cameras as causing an intrusion of
privacy, and the seizure of neighborhood plots for Jewish
The report, “Unsafe Space: The Israeli Authorities’ Failure
to Protect Human Rights amid Settlements in East Jerusalem,” is based on months
of testimonies by Arab residents of the area.
The residents expressed
frustration that they cannot go to authorities with complaints about noise or
disturbances by their Jewish neighbors because they are often viewed as the
instigators of the problem and arrested.
The police’s “selective
enforcement” of the law is creating an untenable living situation for the Arab
residents, ACRI claims.
“The demands we’re making on the police are very
practical,” spokeswoman Ronit Sela told The Jerusalem Post
. “We’re asking them
to obey their own rules.”
In an official response, police dismissed the
document as incomplete.
“The report seems to present only a partial
picture of the situation and at times is tendentious,” attorney Roman Liebovits
of the Jerusalem District’s Police Legal Counsel wrote.
In addition to
alleged selective police enforcement, ACRI found frequent occurrences of the
unlawful detention of minors, following their removal from their homes in the
middle of the night.
Israeli law stipulates that minors between the ages
of 12 and 18 can be questioned only by a specially-trained child prosecutor in
the presence of their parents or another relative, and is generally not allowed
The presence of surveillance cameras represented an additional
hardship for Arab women, ACRI found. With security cameras pointed directly into
their living rooms, women were forced to wear head coverings and modest dress
inside their homes as well, instead of moving about more freely.
believes the situation can be improved, most notably by using police
instead of a private security company, which operates with little
and is accused by residents of being “trigger-happy.”
“With the police,
we can come and demand that they treat everyone in an equal and fair
we’re hoping that with enough pressure, this will be done,” said Sela.
[private] security forces are not obligated to do what the police are
to do, they’re there to be a private police force for settlers.
they’re supposed to be one-sided,” she added.
ACRI noted that the
question of whether to employ private security guards or the police for
protection of the Jewish residents was studied in a committee appointed
construction and housing minister in 2006. The Public Committee to
Security and Guarding of Compounds in East Jerusalem, led by
Maj.-Gen. (res.) Uri Orr, recommended using only police forces, but this
was never put into practice.
The Modi’in Ezrahi (Civilian Intelligence)
company was awarded the public tender to operate private security forces
Jerusalem, the Construction and Housing Ministry said in response.
rule, the situation on the ground is completely different from the one
in your report,” wrote ministry spokesman Ariel Rozenberg in an official
response to ACRI. “The activities of the [private security] unit are
under strict supervision. The guards do not use force against residents
Jerusalem except in extreme situations, and when there is lethal
“The purpose of the unit is to allow, as much as possible, for
residents’ daily routine, and for routine arrangements for tourism in