(JNi.media) Citizen journalist Nehemia Gershuni’s report, “Stabbing Intifada of 2015 Statistics” mentions al-Issawiya—an urban, Arab neighborhood on Mount Scopus, near Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem—five times, between July 26, when two police were lightly injured from stones thrown at them, and October 16, when Border Police using a search dog discovered a pipe bomb ready for use in al-Issawiya. In between, the neighborhood has been a constant battleground, with riots, sparks, stones, burning tires, in short—every policeman’s nightmare.
On Wednesday, the Ma’an news agency ran a cover story titled, “Israeli Crackdown Bringing Back Deterrence More through Annoyance than Fear,” reporting that “as Israeli authorities increase restrictions on Palestinian neighborhoods in occupied East Jerusalem, residents of al-Issawiya say humiliating inspections by Israeli forces have turned their lives into a ‘nightmare.’”
Al-Issawiya is one of those Arab neighborhoods in east Jerusalem which have benefited economically and otherwise from their annexation by Israel. For one thing, before the 1967 war, the neighborhood had a population of 1,300, now it boasts about 19,000. A girls’ school in al-Issawiya is one of five elementary schools in the Jerusalem area that teach philosophy to third-graders as part of a program operating in 70 countries. A project sponsored by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem coordinates educational work with youth in Al-Issawiya. Israeli-Arab students at the university undergo a training seminar that provides them with the requisite teaching and facilitation skills. In 2005, the Peres Center for Peace inaugurated a synthetic turf soccer field in Al-Issawiya as part of the Twinned Peace Soccer School project, built with South Korean funding.
Al-Issawiya residents work at the Hadassah Medical Center, which stands on a hill overlooking the neighborhood. When local residents throw Molotov cocktails at the hospital, they are as likely to hit their own neighbors as they are Jewish doctors or nurses from other parts of the city.
To go by the Ma’an report, the neighborhood is being taught a lesson, reprisal, if you will, for interrupting many years of a relatively prosperous co-existence. “The Israeli occupation is trying to practice a policy of humiliation at the military checkpoints in the main exits of al-Issawiya,” said local resident and activist Hani al-Issawi. “Residents are not allowed to leave the village in groups. Every single person must undergo inspections,” he added.
There are no beatings, no mass arrests, no starvation, and there are only few raids, but local men, including the elderly, are forced to pull up their shirts and sometimes take their trousers going in and out of the check point at the entrance to the neighborhood, and many undergo physical inspections. Female residents are searched by female soldiers, with or without physical inspections. Residents must let soldiers look inside their bags and must present their ID cards.
Local activist Muhammad Abu al-Hummus told Ma’an, “Every morning, queues of schoolchildren, workers and employees are seen waiting in front of the checkpoint,” he added, and inspecting each person can take as long as five minutes.
These measures have increased as the level of violence has risen, since the start of October, one day after the memorable UN speech by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas that blamed Israel for deigning to take over the al-Aqsa mosque. Following a series of stabbing attacks and car attacks that left at least nine Israelis dead since Oct. 1, Al-Issawiya is finding out the hard way what happens when a central government decides to bring down violence at all cost. Al-Issawiya is one of several Arab neighborhoods in east Jerusalem that has come under such restrictions, according to Ma’an. Israeli forces have been installing a large concrete wall to separate Jabal al-Mukabbir from the Jewish neighborhood of Armon Hanatziv. Prime Minister Netanyahu has ordered that plan scrapped, and asked police to come up with something more creative.