The friction between the police and Jerusalem's Arab population has escalated considerably over the past 18 months, a report released Tuesday by the Association for Civil Rights indicates.
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According to the report, roughly 1,200 children were questioned on suspicion of pelting stones and 759 were arrested for suspected violations of a nationalistic nature. Charges were pressed in 226 of the cases. East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Silwan and Issawiya were listed in the report as the most prominent sites of contention.
"The large gap between the number of kids who were questioned and arrested, and the number of charges pressed, reinforces the Arab residents' feeling that most of these arrests and inquiries are meant to instill fear in the minors, collect information from them and stop them from repeating the acts they are suspected of committing," the report read.
The association stresses that children under the age of 12 should not be arrested because they are too young to be criminally liable.
The report features incidents of kids being taken out of their beds in the middle of the night, handcuffed on the street and arrested. It also describes incidents of cops using threats and violence during questioning, or questioning minors without the presence of a parent.
Arrest in Issawiya. (Photo: Ofer Amram)
'Police ignores Arabs' complaints'According to the association, the Arab residents' distrust of the authorities prevents them from filing complaints. "They see the police as a hostile body, which often exercises its power against them, ignores their needs and safety and prefers the Jewish population's interest," the report says.
In the rare cases that residents do come forward and report police violence, the perpetrators are seldom prosecuted.
Silwan on 'Nakba Day' (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
The association says that police excessively use crowd dispersal means, including tear gas grenades, inside residential neighborhoods. "Over the past Sukkot holiday Muhammad Abu-Sara, an infant, died after evidently inhaling tear gas that was dispersed in a large quantity and entered the house," the report read.
Moreover, the association claims the police use collective punishment to pressure the Arab residents; it states that the presence of law enforcement in Arab neighborhoods and the number of tickets issued to Arabs are disproportionate.
According to the report, inequality exists in the way police treat the Jewish and Arab populations. "We have testimonies that show that the police ignore complaints filed by Arabs about harm done to their property, body or safety," the report reads.
"In contrast, when a Jew files a complaint against a Palestinian, the police often use the fullest extent of the law, and do their job in the best way possible."
In the report, the association calls on Jerusalem's police to change its discriminatory policies. The Jerusalem police department refused to comment, saying that it has yet to receive the report.
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