Israel has temporarily permitted Palestinian Authority policemen to operate in some east Jerusalem neighborhoods behind the security barrier to stem increased lawlessness and anarchy.
PA security officials said a special anti-riot force has been dispatched to the village of Kafr Akab, north of Jerusalem, where armed clashes erupted on Monday night between local residents and activists from the nearby Kalandiya refugee camp, south of Ramallah.
A Kafr Akab resident was seriously injured during an exchange of gunfire, which lasted for several hours, eyewitnesses said.
Kafr Akab, home to more than 100,000 people, mostly residents of east Jerusalem who hold Israeli ID cards, is located within the boundaries of the Jerusalem Municipality.
However, like several other east Jerusalem neighborhoods also located within the boundaries of the Jerusalem Municipality, Kafr Akab has been physically cut off from the city since the construction of the security barrier during the Second Intifada.
Residents of these neighborhoods and villages have been complaining that they are not receiving all the services they are entitled to as holders of Israeli ID cards, including municipal and police services.
The vacuum often has been filled by the PA and its various institutions, although it is not allowed to operate in areas under Israeli sovereignty.
Residents of these communities say the absence of Israeli security authorities has paved the way for armed gangs and Palestinian groups to impose a reign of terror and intimidation.
Monday’s armed clashes erupted after Palestinians from Kalandiya refugee camp, on the pretext of preventing the spread of coronavirus, blocked the entrances to Kafr Akab and tried to prevent residents from leaving. At least two Kafr Akab residents have been diagnosed with the disease.
“Kafr Akab is a time bomb,” local resident Hisham Abu Rmaileh said. “On the one hand, the Israeli police do not want to deal with the crime here. On the other hand, the Palestinian security forces are banned from entering our village because it is located inside Israel. Almost every night we see people carrying illegal weapons and shooting at each other.”
Another resident, Ahmed Qawassmeh, said: “Living in Kafr Akab is like living in a war zone.”
Until 20 years ago, “Kafr Akab used to be a small and quiet village with less than 8,000 residents,” he said. “Because of the housing crisis and the high cost of living, tens of thousands of east Jerusalem residents moved to Kafr Akab and built thousands of housing units without proper licenses. Today, Kafr Akab is one of the most overcrowded villages in Jerusalem. If we don’t die from coronavirus, we’ll die from street fights and illegal weapons.”