Palestinians in East Jerusalem neighborhood living in constant fear

Israeli police arrest two Palestinians during clashes in Issawiya in East Jerusalem. (AP/File)
Short Url
Updated 08 March 2020

Palestinians in East Jerusalem neighborhood living in constant fear

  • Rights groups say the raids go far beyond the targeting of individual suspects and amount to collective punishment of the neighborhood’s 20,000 residents

JERUSALEM: Murad Mahmoud’s 14-year-old son has been detained by Israeli police in his East Jerusalem neighborhood three times in the last two years. His 10-year-old has been interrogated by police in combat gear. These days, he keeps all six of his children inside most of the time, fearing even worse.
“I won’t even let them go to the corner store,” he says. “I’m not just afraid they’ll be arrested, I’m afraid they’ll lose an eye or get shot in the head."
Nearly every day for the last nine months Israeli police have stormed into the Palestinian neighborhood of Issawiya in East Jerusalem in a campaign they say is needed to maintain law and order.
Rights groups say that in addition to searching houses and issuing fines, they have detained hundreds of people — some as young as 10 — on suspicion of stone-throwing.
The operations frequently ignite clashes, with local youths throwing rocks and firebombs, which police say justifies their heightened presence.
But residents and human rights groups say the raids themselves seem intended to provoke confrontations and have created an atmosphere of terror, with parents afraid to let their children play outside.
Last month, a 9-year-old boy was shot in the face by police, losing an eye in an incident authorities say they are still investigating.
It is unclear what prompted the crackdown, but many residents feel police are making an example out of Issawiya so that Israel can cement its control over East Jerusalem, which it seized in the 1967 war and later annexed.
East Jerusalem Palestinians have Israeli residency, but few have accepted citizenship, either because they do not recognize Israeli control or because of the long and complicated application process. That has left many feeling vulnerable.
“From May of last year until today, every day they occupy Issawiya all over again,” said Amin Barakat, an optometrist and a member of the neighborhood council.
Issawiya tumbles down a hillside behind Israel’s Hebrew University, just a few miles from the city center. But like other Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem it is overcrowded and poorly served, a legacy of decades of Israeli policies favoring Jewish areas of the city, including East Jerusalem settlements. Under President Donald Trump’s Mideast initiative, which strongly favors Israel and was rejected by the Palestinians, Issawiya would remain part of Israel’s capital.
The intensive raids began last May, but the situation escalated the following month, when a 20-year-old was shot and killed by police, who said he approached to within a few meters (yards) and launched fireworks at them.
Rights groups say the raids go far beyond the targeting of individual suspects and amount to collective punishment of the neighborhood’s 20,000 residents.
Ir Amim, an Israeli group that advocates for equal rights in Jerusalem and has closely followed developments in Issawiya, said the operations are “unprecedented in scope and scale,” amounting to a “violent disruption of daily life.”
In addition to sweeping arrest raids, police have set up flying checkpoints that strangle traffic and issued arbitrary fines for minor violations of local ordinances, it said.


‘Make yourself invaluable’: Carlos Ghosn offers executive training in troubled Lebanon

Updated 1 min ago

‘Make yourself invaluable’: Carlos Ghosn offers executive training in troubled Lebanon

  • The Lebanese-French executive has unveiled a plan to shake up the business school at the Université Saint-Esprit de Kaslik
  • Ghosn plans programs to coach top executives, offer technology training and help start-ups that will create jobs
BEIRUT: Carlos Ghosn, the former Nissan and Renault head who fled Japan where he was facing trial, is launching a university management and business program in Lebanon, a nation mired in a deep crisis blamed on years of misrule, mismanagement and corruption.
Nine months after his dramatic escape to Beirut from Tokyo, the Lebanese-French executive has unveiled a plan to shake up the business school at the Université Saint-Esprit de Kaslik (USEK), a private university north of the Lebanese capital.
Ghosn, credited with turning round the Japanese and French carmakers before he faced charges of financial wrongdoing that he denies, plans programs to coach top executives, offer technology training and help start-ups that will create jobs.
Ghosn, a fugitive from a Japanese justice system he says was rigged against him, has found refuge in his childhood home Lebanon where the economy is collapsing under debts amassed since the 1975-1990 civil war. A devastating blast in Beirut on Aug. 4 compounded Lebanon’s woes.
“Obviously I am not interested in politics but I will dedicate time and effort into supporting Lebanon during this difficult period,” he told Reuters at the weekend, ahead of Tuesday’s formal launch during a press conference of his new university program.
“This is about creating jobs, employment and entrepreneurs to allow society to take its role into the reconstruction of the country,” Ghosn told a press conference at USEK on Tuesday.
Ghosn, who was approached by USEK in the weeks after arriving in Lebanon at the end of December, said the programs aimed to offer practical help. He will help supervise.
Drawing on his experience, the focus for the executive program would be turning around companies in trouble, corporations struggling with a troubled environment and how to “make yourself invaluable” in a company.
Ghosn said several international executives had agreed to give pro bono courses, such as Jaguar and Land Rover Chief Executive Thierry Bolloré, former Goldman Sachs vice-chairman Ken Curtis and venture capitalist Raymond Debbane.
The short courses, expected to start in March, would be open to 15 to 20 senior executives in Lebanon and the Middle East.
‘ROLE MODEL’
“The role model is my experience, what I think are the basic needs of a top executive in a very competitive environment,” he said, adding that, when he was in charge, Nissan’s executive training program in Japan had been open to other companies.
The second USEK program, subsidised by the executive program, would train people on new technologies, such as computer-assisted design and artificial intelligence.
Ghosn said Lebanon’s jewelry exporters were among those who would benefit from the use of software to help with designs.
The third program would act as an incubator for start-ups, and he aimed to invest in two projects. “I am mainly interested in projects that have environmental impact,” he said, citing the example of a project to turn sewage into fertilizer.
“You are creating entrepreneurs which are badly needed, you are creating employment,” he said, adding he had been persuaded to work with USEK by the president of the Maronite Christian institution, Father Talal Hachem, and his young team.
Ghosn said he had also chosen to work with USEK, rather than some of the bigger Lebanese universities, because he liked the idea of working with an institution that drew in a broad range of students, not just the wealthy.
“These students need help more than anybody else. This is the class that has been smashed by the situation today,” he told Reuters.
“I’m going to help in the way I can,” he said. “I’m going to help build the economy by helping to solve problems that every Lebanese is facing today.”