Smoke rose over multiple neighborhoods in east Jerusalem on Sunday as groups of Arab residents burned tires, blocked roads and declared and forced others to join labor strikes in protest against intensified policing and home demolitions in Arab neighborhoods in recent weeks and months.
Arab residents in Shuafat, Anata, Isawiya, Jebel Mukaber and a-Ram had announced on Friday that they would be launching civil disobedience measures on Sunday morning to protest what they termed “the daily extremist and racist crimes of the occupation government.”
The measures called for strikes, not paying taxes and municipal fees, blocking roads and blocking residents who want to go to work from being able to leave their neighborhood.
Clashes broke out between Arab youths and police in Shuafat and Isawiya, with police firing tear gas and spraying skunk water at the youths who were blocking roads.
Videos from east Jerusalem published by Palestinian media showed small groups of youths standing around burning tires, vehicles and trash cans on a number of roads.
Israel Police stated that a “handful of lawbreakers” had blocked roads in an attempt to “disrupt the routine of life in those neighborhoods, this is to prevent and hinder the public from going to work and their daily routine and to force a strike on them.”
Police work to reopen roads and disperse unrest
Police worked with the Jerusalem Municipality to reopen the roads and disperse the unrest. In one neighborhood, police intervened in a fight between the rioters and residents who wanted to go to work.
“The police will continue to work to maintain a normal life structure in east Jerusalem alongside maintaining security and order and law enforcement with the other authorities,” the police said.
The intensified policing measures in the Arab neighborhoods, especially in the Shuafat refugee camp and Anata, come after deadly terrorist attacks at the checkpoint at the entrance to the camp.
In October, Udai Tamimi, a resident of Anata, shot and killed soldier Noa Lazar at the checkpoint. Last week, Border Police officer Asil Sawaed was killed in a stabbing attack by a 13-year-old boy from the camp.
National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir stressed on Sunday that he intends to continue the intensification of policing in the city, saying “Israel will not fold before a handful of terrorists.”
“The criminals who block the neighborhoods, they are instigators, act against the law and want anarchy in the east and we must not allow them to do that. Of course, the collective must be separated from those criminals, but Israel Police must show a heavy hand and zero tolerance towards those lawbreakers and the operation will continue.”
Damascus Gate clashes
On Saturday night, clashes broke out at the Damascus Gate, with police chasing after and arresting a number of Arab youths at the scene.
Police stated on Saturday that at least eight suspects had thrown objects at officers in the area and one suspect had broadcast inciting messages live on TikTok calling on people to come and disturb the peace at the gate, as tens of thousands of worshipers entered the Old City and al-Aqsa Mosque to mark the holiday of Isra’ and Mi’raj, the miraculous night journey of Mohammed from Mecca to Jerusalem.
“These are law-breaking youths who choose to take advantage of the holiday to disturb the peace and behave violently, thereby harming first of all a large public of worshipers, merchants and revelers, most of whom wish to celebrate the holiday and observe its customs quietly and peacefully,” said the police on Saturday.