Yerushalayim Arabs Welcome New Police Plan – To an Extent

YERUSHALAYIM -
A view of the Yerushalayim neighborhood of Pisgat Zeev (L), and the Arab neighborhood of Beit Hanina (R) in east Yerushalayim. (REUTERS/Ammar Awad)
A view of the Yerushalayim neighborhood of Pisgat Zeev (R.) and the Arab neighborhood of Beit Hanina (L.) in east Yerushalayim. (Reuters/Ammar Awad)

Residents of Arab neighborhoods of Yerushalayim praised plans by police to open new stations in their neighborhoods, although some expressed doubts that the new increase in police patrols would benefit them. Residents quoted on Channel Two Thursday said that police were necessary in order to keep the peace and reduce crime and gang violence, which is rampant in their neighborhoods – but some feared that they would not be treated fairly.

“We know the police,” said one resident of the Ras al-Amud neighborhood. “On Pesach, when the Jews double park, no one gets a ticket, but for us on Ramadan the story is different. That is not the kind of police we want or need – what we need are police who will keep order, but not who will come as an occupying, racist force.”

The plan, announced by police earlier this week, will see 1,200 new officers hired and deployed in Ras al-Amud, Jabel Mukaber, Silwan, Issawiya and Sur Bahet, none of which are currently patrolled on a regular basis. The stations will be set up in public buildings, such as Health Fund (Kupat Cholim) and National Insurance (Bituach Leumi) buildings, which are generally left alone by Arabs when riots break out in these areas.

Along with the increase police presence, police intend to install hundreds of surveillance cameras in Arab neighborhoods, similar to the system in the Old City, where nearly every square inch is under surveillance. The camera system will enable police to keep a low profile and avoid inflaming the situation, while allowing them to respond as needed to emergencies.

Commenting on the plan, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said that “Israel’s sovereignty begins in Yerushalayim, but unfortunately there is still a huge gap between police services in the eastern and western parts of the city. We have thus decided to undertake a historic change, to close this gap and to invest money and resources to set up police stations in the neighborhoods and villages of eastern Yerushalayim.”