Israel to revoke Jerusalem residency of Palestinians

In addition to punitive home demolitions, Israel is taking steps to banish alleged attackers’ relatives from Jerusalem.

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Israeli forces have set up checkpoints across occupied East Jerusalem and closed off Palestinian neighbourhoods [AP]

Israel has announced that it will begin banning alleged Palestinian attackers and their relatives from occupied East Jerusalem as increasingly harsh restrictions are being imposed on local Palestinians amid weeks of protests and clashes. 

The ongoing violence was triggered last month by incursions into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound – the third holiest site for Muslims – by right-wing Israeli groups.

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Protests against Israel’s ongoing occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip have increased in frequency, while Israeli forces have responded with force, using tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets and live ammunition against demonstrators. 

Speaking to local radio on Thursday, Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, a member of the ultra-nationalist Jewish Home party, announced that alleged attackers and their “supportive” family members would be stripped of their Jerusalem residency rights and social security. 

Most Palestinians who live in occupied East Jerusalem do not have Israeli or Palestinian Authority citizenship and instead carry an Israeli-issued residency permit. 

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Shaked’s announcement is the latest in a wave of harsh measures introduced amid tit-for-tat attacks between Israelis and Palestinians and violent clashes between demonstrators and Israeli forces. 

The United Nations Security Council will hold a special meeting on Friday to discuss the recent spate of violence.The meeting, which diplomats said was called at the request of council member Jordan, will include a briefing from the UN secretariat on the situation on the ground.

The ongoing violence has been used as “an excuse for Israel to get rid of as many Palestinians [in Jerusalem] as possible”, according to Rima Awad, a member of the Coalition for Jerusalem, a group that campaigns for Palestinian rights in the city. 

“The accused were neither tried nor found guilty, and there was no legal process,” Awad told Al Jazeera. “That means their families are being collectively punished for an accusation that has not been proven legally.” 

Since the beginning of the month, at least 32 Palestinians – including people accused of attacks, as well as unarmed protesters and bystanders – and seven Israelis have been killed. 

Writing on Twitter, Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said on Thursday that “heightened security measures” were in place in Jerusalem in order to “prevent [and] respond to any attacks”. 

Israel has also moved to confiscate their assets and expedite the demolition of family homes belonging to Palestinians accused of attacking Israeli forces or civilians. 

On Thursday, Israeli forces delivered at least seven home demolition orders to the families of suspected Palestinian assailants, according to the rights group HaMoked. The families were told they had a mere 72 hours to evacuate their houses. 

Israeli troops also set up road blocks and additional checkpoints across the city and sealed off entire Palestinian neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem on Wednesday. 

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The measures are not new, however.

Awad notes that Palestinians in East Jerusalem have endured strict residency regulations and regular home demolitions since Israel’s occupation of the territory began in 1967. 

Since 1967, at least 14,000 Palestinians have had their residency stripped by Israeli authorities, according to HaMoked, including 107 last year alone. 

In East Jerusalem, Israeli bulldozers flattened 97 Palestinian-owned buildings and displaced at least 208 Palestinians in 2014, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. 

“Rather than solving the problem, Israel is adding fuel to the flames,” Awad said. “Deporting Palestinians from the city sets a dangerous precedent, especially because the ‘attackers’ have not been afforded a legal process.” 

Source: Al Jazeera