ACRI: Stop employing security guards in e. J’lem

Organization says private guards should not behave like police; security company says guards are attacked every day.

311_Silwan houses (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
311_Silwan houses
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The guard who shot Silwan resident Samr Sirkhan last Wednesday morning was employed by a private security company, raising ire among residents who believe that private guards should not be acting like police.
The company, called Modi’in Ezrahi, provides guards for Jewish residents living in east Jerusalem as well as in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City. East Jerusalem Arab residents accused the private security guards of being “quick on the trigger” in an Association for Civil Rights in Israel report released on September 5 detailing abuses in east Jerusalem neighborhoods.
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ACRI also condemned the security firm on Wednesday.
“There is an urgent need to stop the activities of private security companies in east Jerusalem, who are acting as a policing force without undergoing the proper training, and in the absence of a clear definition of the limits of their work,” attorney Keren Tzafrir said in a statement.
Modi’in Ezrahi won a public tender from the Ministry of Construction and Housing to provide security to Jewish residents in east Jerusalem and this year had a budget of NIS 54 million from the ministry.
In 2006, the Ministry of Construction and Housing appointed a committee to study whether or not the state should continue to employ private security guards.
The Public Committee to Examine the Security of Guarding Compounds in East Jerusalem, led by Maj.-Gen. (res.) Uri Or, recommended transferring the security back to the police. In January 2007, the government adopted the committee’s recommendations, but the decision was never put into practice.
East Jerusalem residents complained that the guards have no oversight and are poorly trained, ACRI said in its report.
“The security guards are trained to avoid friction and refrain from inflaming passions,” wrote Ariel Rozenberg, the Ministry of Construction and Housing spokesman, in an official response to the report. “The purpose of the guards is to keep the population away from violent incidents in order to protect their safety; it is not to restore order or to enforce the law.”
Modi’in Ezrahi supervisers refused to comment on the matter.
In an interview with Channel 2, Modi’in Ezrahi manager Ofer Rosenman said that security guards are attacked every day.
“We are talking about attacks with rocks, metal poles and gunshots several times a day,” he said.