Six residents of the Isawiya neighborhood in east Jerusalem were placed under nighttime curfew for several months in a rare move invoking a British Mandate-era regulation on Thursday, according to the Palestinian WAFA news agency.
Earlier, the Home Front Command issued the six administrative injunctions over "sensitive information" about alleged activities, according to Haaretz. The injunctions that give extensive authority to military commanders are usually used for demolitions and detention without trial in the West Bank. The move to issue the injunction against permanent Israeli residents in Jerusalem is more unusual.
According to Haaretz, Palestinian and Israeli lawyers who work in Jerusalem don't remember personal administrative detention orders ever being issued in the capital.
The IDF stated that these decisions are "made when defense officials have information pointing to a public security risk. This information...is based on classified intelligence, which can't be released."
The nighttime curfew was first enacted into law in Defense Regulations by the British Mandate in 1945 to combat Arab and Jewish riots and rebellions in the area. The Regulations included curfews, censorship measures, restriction of movement measures, administrative detention and deportation measures.
The Regulations were adopted into the law of the new State of Israel in May, 1948 with section 11 of the Law and Administration Ordinance stipulating that “the law which existed in Palestine on May 14th, 1948 shall remain in force.” The Ordinance added that this excluded any law that was repugnant to the laws of the Provisional Council of State and that all laws were subject to modifications from the State and its authorities.
The State of Israel still uses the Regulations to this day, especially those concerning censorship and administrative detention.
During the British Mandate, the Regulations largely targeted Jews. Jewish residents of the Mandate and visitors were appalled by the Regulations. Richard Crossman, a visiting member of the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry in early 1946, stated that there “can be no doubt that Palestine today is a police state,” according to Professor Alan Dowty, former president of the Association for Israel Studies.
The Knesset discussed getting rid of the Regulations in 1951, but failed to do so. During the discussions, then-opposition leader Menachem Begin rallied against the Regulations, saying “The law that you used is Nazi, it is tyrannical, it is immoral; and an immoral law is also an illegal law.”
“If these laws, terror laws of a repressive regime, remain in the State of Israel—the day will come when no group will remain unharmed by them,” stressed Begin.
The six men subject to the curfew are Anwar Sami Obeid, Muhammad Elayyan Elayyan, Fayez Muhammad Mheisen, Muhammad Musa Mustafa, Adam Kayed Mahmoud and Mahmoud Ramadan Obeid, according to WAFA. The period in which the curfews will be imposed on the six range from two to four months.
The youth were released last week after being arrested for disrupting the public order. They will be subject to the injunctions and will be restricted to their homes during the night. Security officials stated that the reason for the injunctions was information that pointed to risks posed by the Isawiya residents, according to Haaretz.Anwar Obeid was imprisoned for four years in the past and has been arrested 13 times in the past year. He was not charged in any of these cases and was released shortly afterwards with restrictions.
One resident was told, "You are a terrorist activist in your neighborhood. As such, you are known to be involved in disrupting public order and in throwing Molotov cocktails."
Some people arrested in recent arrest campaigns in the neighborhood claimed that police told them that if they didn't stop the stone throwing, their Israeli residence status would be revoked. Only a small number of east Jerusalem residents have ever had their residency revoked.
Isawiya, located adjacent to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Mount Scopus campus and Hadassah-University Medical Center, is home to an estimated 22,000 Palestinians. According to residents and activists, police have entered the neighborhood nearly every night since June 12. According to WAFA, there has been a “dramatic uptick in police raids that have completely disrupted their lives and thrown the neighborhood into chaos.”
Authorities originally increased their presence in Isawiya because of residents throwing stones, according to an October 6 report by Israeli human rights group B’Tselem. According to the B’Tselem report, “The harassment includes daily raids on the neighborhood, detaining of residents returning from work, issuing of traffic tickets for spurious infractions, serving of house demolition orders, acts of violence, and detentions – particularly of minors."
Residents and activists allege that authorities regularly use tear gas and stun grenades, raid homes at night, set up checkpoints and conduct random searches. They also claim that police have arrested between 500 and 600 residents over the last five and a half months, including 300 children. Omar Atiya, a 53-year-old member of the community’s parents council, said only seven or eight of the arrestees have actually been indicted.
Abby Seitz contributed to this report.