Sunday, 31 December 2017

Current unrest in Jerusalem

While attacks on Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound in East Jerusalem may have triggered the current situation, Palestinian frustration and the  current  state of unrest throughout the OPT is the outcome of Israel’s occupation. However, rather than fulfill its duties as Occupying Power and examine the root cause of events, Israel has reacted with repression.

Using security as a pretext, Israel has implemented unprecedented acts     of collective punishment, excessive use of force, and other attacks against Palestinians and civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, and has exploited the present situation to expedite existing aims across the OPT. This is especially evident in East Jerusalem, where Israel instituted a series of severe measures that target Palestinians.

First, by continuing to correlate stone-throwing with terrorism, 22 Israel attempted to justify the sweeping and extreme changes to live fire regulations and minimum sentencing guidelines.23 Next, under measures passed on October 13, the Security Cabinet instituted broad penalties24 against “terrorists” which will inevitably result in collective punishments.  By using the broad brush of terror, Israel attempts to defend its oppressive policies, but in fact violates its international obligations.

In 2015, the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism highlighted the principle of legality and noted “the adoption of overly broad definitions of terrorism carries the potential for deliberate misuse — including as a response to claims and social movements of indigenous peoples — and unintended human rights abuses. Unclear, imprecise or overly broad definitions can be used to target civil society, silence human rights defenders, bloggers and journalists, and criminalize peaceful activities in defence of minority, religious, labour and political rights.”25 These concerns are applicable to Israel’s historic26 use of “terrorism” legislation, and measures passed in 2015.27

Consequently, through Israel’s ambiguous, expansive measures and practices aimed at instilling more fear and quashing any form of dissent, including peaceful protest, East Jerusalem is slowly returning to a tense calm where its Palestinian residents remain targeted.

Since September 2015, Israel has instituted a series of actions that further target Palestinians in Jerusalem through the use of lethal force, searches without reasonable suspicion, and widespread arrest and detention. While these measures appear neutral on their face, in reality it is understood that they only apply to Palestinians.28 Through discriminatory legislation and practice that threaten rights to life, security and liberty, amongst others, Israel aims to assert more control over the Palestinian population.


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