East Jerusalem and the Swords of Iron War: Current Status and Policy Recommendations
Main East Jerusalem and the Swords of Iron War: Current Status and Policy Recommendations
Two weeks after the outbreak of the Swords of Iron War it appears that East Jerusalem is relatively calm compared to the other fronts in the south, the north and the West Bank. This picture, however, conceals serious problems brewing under the surface. Some of these are existing problems that have been aggravated by the war, and others are issues that have arisen in the last two weeks in the state-of-emergency period.
Publication Date: October 23rd, 2023
Writer: Dr. Amnon Ramon
This report was written with the purpose of outlining the situation of East Jerusalem during the war, offering initial policy recommendations to deal with the problems and challenges facing the decision-makers and the senior executive level of the Jerusalem Municipality, the Israel Police, and the various government ministries.
On Wednesday, October 18, 2023, the Jerusalem Institute for Policy Studies, in collaboration with the Naumann Foundation, held a meeting discussing the different problems in East Jerusalem during the current state of war. About 100 participants participated in the meeting: East Jerusalem activists and residents, representatives of civil society organizations active in the east of the city, and representatives of the authorities: Social Security, Jerusalem Municipality, and the Home Front Command.
From the discussion and the analysis of information from other sources, it appears that East Jerusalem is in a very delicate and sensitive state of tension, which at this stage has not yet reached its boiling point, but may be getting closer (see details in the full report).
- Set up a situation room common to all authorities (the Jerusalem municipality, government ministries, the Home Front Command and civilian social organizations) to handle the complex problems that arise in this emergency period in the eastern part of the city in a coordinated manner.
- Open all shelters that meet code in East Jerusalem schools.
- Hold a discussion specifically on Kafr ‘Aqab and the Qalandia crossing and find solutions as soon as possible: (a) open Bank Hadoar office at the Qalandia crossing and allow residents to reach there, or operate a mobile l service immediately; (b) create a humanitarian access route for the sick who require medical services in Jerusalem; (c) consider steps for increasing the number of permits at the crossing as long as the security situation remains quiet.
- Open additional lanes for entering and exiting the Shu’afat refugee camp to reduce lengthy waits and open the crossing between Jabel Mukaber and Arab al-Sawahira for students.
- Reconsider the issue of demolishing homes during the war due to its highly sensitive nature on the ground.
- Maintain a tough yet professional and respectful stance toward East Jerusalem residents, especially young adults and youth.
- Make sure the line between incitement and support of the Hamas massacres on one hand, and identification with Palestinian suffering in the Gaza Strip on the other is clearly defined. Space must be made available for East Jerusalem residents – many of whom have relatives in the Gaza Strip – to express identification and pain for the condition of the Palestinian population in Gaza.
- Reinforce the community administration in the eastern part of the city through meetings with senior decision-makers and a full engagement of neighborhood emergency teams as much as possible. Connect all municipal entities to the civil operations room, exploiting the community leadership such as school principals, community center administrators and activists in emergency and life-saving organizations.