Border police raid Palestinian towns after residents protest wall that cuts them off from Jerusalem

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Israeli forces arrest Palestinians in Eizariya and Abu Dis. (Photo: Raya)

Here is a good example of how the day-to-day occupation and East Jerusalem’s push into the West Bank does not make it outside of the Arabic news ring: Early Monday morning hundreds of Israeli border police raided cities across the West Bank, arresting at least 15 people.

While local and regional media covered the story, Ma’an News and the right-wing Arutz Sheva were the only organizations that published in English on these incursions. Both of the reports were lacking though; only partial accounts of the nighttime raids were printed and neither provided any context on a row over the wall’s expansion prompting the arrests.

Ma’an, reporting on raids in Nablus and Jenin in separate articles, missed the biggest event of Sunday night. A major operation took place outside of Jerusalem, which was picked up by Arutz Sheva (which in turn did not report on the Nablus and Jenin raids).

Hundreds of border police storm Jerusalem area

At dawn, 200 border police arrested 11 Palestinians in Abu Dis and Eizariya for suspicion of throwing Molotov cocktails at the separation barrier. The Palestinian outlet al-Quds reported that when the military failed to find some suspects at home, family members were taken into custody. Israeli courts have backed the practice of arresting family members as a legitimate form of coercion– so detaining a father and a brother of a wanted man (which happened Sunday night) is considered above reproach.

A previous nighttime raid in both Abu Dis and Eizariya took place around three weeks ago. In the last incursion 29 Palestinians were arrested and “Israeli forces fired tear gas, sound grenades and plastic-coated bullets at residents [said] Eizariya council spokesman Osama Jaber” according to Ma’an. The youngest arrested on the May 30th raid was 13 years old.

The two operations are part of a crackdown on Palestinian dissent against the expansion of the wall. Just two weeks before the first raid, Palestinians used pickaxes to knock a hole in the wall. Immediately they were confronted by the Israeli military and arrests have continued since.

Eizariya and Abu Dis are administratively sealed off from accessing Jerusalem. Abu Dis and Eizariya are part of East Jerusalem, which came under Israeli control in 1967. But after the Oslo Accords the two localities were transferred to the West Bank and are now in Area B under joint Israeli and Palestinian security control. Then in 2004 the wall started inching its way around the towns, separating them from Jerusalem. Building is on-going and the recent arrests are seemingly in response to Palestinian dissent against its construction.

While the Jerusalem area raids were underway, additional arrests were made in Nablus and Jenin.

Nablus and Jenin

In Nablus two were detained after undercover Israel Special Forces entered the Old City in an unmarked car trailed by border police. Nablus is located in Area A of the West Bank, under Palestinian security control since the 1990s.

Breaches of Palestinian limited sovereignty occur regularly, but are less common inside of Palestinian urban space. Inside Ramallah for example, Israeli raids have taken place around a handful of times over the past year. Still, it’s widely known that Oslo-delineated regions of Palestinian security control have less sovereignty than Native American reservations in the United States. When occurrences like this take place, there’s no Palestinian recourse–it is not as though the Palestinian Authority police have any ability to turn around Israeli tanks and bar them from West Bank cities.

While the Nablus raid was in progress Palestinians clashed with the military, and sound grenades and tear gas was fired. Ma’an filed a skimpy report that said the two detained are affiliated with Fatah’s armed wing, the al-Aqsa Brigades. And in a separate article on Jenin, Ma’an reported three houses were raided and two were arrested.

By comparison most Arabic media congregated all of the raids in one article and explained that at least in Abu Dis and Eizariya, the raids are part of discontent over the path of the wall. Historically both of these towns were neighborhoods of the holy city. Yet as a result of negotiations with Israel they are presently West Bank enclaves squeezed between the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, E1–and ever increasingly–the wall.

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