Ma’ariv (p. 20) by Yossi Eli -- The Shuafat refugee camp, which is under the municipal jurisdiction of Jerusalem, has been completely cut off from the capital: in the last few days a separation fence was completed that encircles the camp. From this day on residents will be forced to pass through a five-station terminal to enter other areas in the city. The security establishment is bracing for clashes with residents who are enraged by this new situation.
“We have Israeli ID cards and we are Jerusalem residents. We don’t need to suffer like this,” said yesterday chairman of the camp’s residents committee Jamil Sanduka. “Where are we, Gaza?” Sanduka argues that passage of the residents into Jerusalem each morning will become an ongoing nightmare, much like the one experienced by residents of the territories due to roadblocks. “We don’t want this whole inspection procedure of 'take off your shoes,’ 'open your shirt,’ 'open the trunk.’”
The decision to include the camp within the perimeters of the separation fence was reached following the el-Aksa Intifada attacks. It received the approval of the High Court of Justice, which rejected the residents’ petition in 2008, and permitted construction to proceed. Police officials said that the terminal would open over the weekend or early next week at the latest. It will replace the temporary roadblock now in the area, which is manned by the Jerusalem District Police and lacks strict security inspections.
Now, anyone wishing to enter the capital by foot or on car will have to pass through the crossing. Shuafat residents allege that this will completely cut them off from the Jerusalem area, despite their Israeli ID cards. The fence has now sealed off several Arab neighborhoods under the municipal jurisdiction of Jerusalem. Residents of Ras Hamis, Dahiyat al-Salam and Ras Shehadeh will also have to pass through the terminal.
Police officials are worried that in the days following the terminal’s opening, Border Police and security forces will be forced to cope with large-scale scale riots in the area. Commander of the Jerusalem District Police Cmdr. Niso Shaham and other senior officers in the district have begun to prepare for violent protests once the terminal opens. In order to avoid escalation, senior officers are attempting to conduct a dialogue with residents, in an effort to convince them that the inspection will actually improve their daily lives. Police have even promised residents that inspections will not be stricter than those practiced today. Security sources have said that the terminal will actually make inspection more efficient.
Residents of the camp appear less enthusiastic about their being forcibly cut off from the rest of the city. This past week there were disturbances almost every day and on Saturday night, eight Border Police sustained light injuries after residents tossed stones firebombs at them. Security sources said that it was mostly Tanzim from the territories that were behind the aggression, Fatah’s military wing, which had taken over the camp. Residents promise that events of the past week were only a taste of what awaits the police in the future. “We will not succumb to the occupation,” said one protestor. “We will come to the area and protest our separation from Jerusalem.”
The Jerusalem District Police stated in response: “A terminal, built at a cost of several million shekels, was constructed in order to enable residents of Jerusalem’s periphery a more normal routine. We will man it in order to significantly improve passage.”
December 8th, 2011