Protest at Hebrew U, 20.11.12, photo by Safaa Khateeb
During the 8 days of operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza, Jerusalem saw a wave of protests against the operation, which were met with an aggressive and at times unlawful response by the police. Eyewitness accounts of events that took place across the city paint a picture of police officers that dispersed legal demonstrations and unlawfully used tear gas and rubber or sponge bullets, causing injuries and instilling fear.
In two letters sent to Jerusalem Police Chief Yossi Pariente, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) demanded that he examine these events and reacquaint the district police officers with the law and regulations concerning legal and illegal demonstrations and the ways to handle them.
In at least 3 cases the Jerusalem Police dispersed legal protests: In Paris Square (in Jerusalem’s center), in the Old City’s Damascus Gate, and at the Hebrew University campus in Mount Scopus. Protesters were arrested and handled violently.
Moreover, in dispersing demonstrations and riots across East Jerusalem the police used injurious measures such as rubber bullets or sponge bullets and tear gas in crowded neighborhoods. Such measures of have been utilized at the Qalandiya checkpoint, and in the neighborhoods of Ras al-Amud, Jabel Mukaber, at-Tur, Issawiya, Silwan, and in the Shu’afat refugee camp. A number of Palestinian residents suffered injuries from bullets.
ACRI Attorney Keren Tzafrir wrote: “We wish to caution that the use of such injurious measures must be kept to the absolute necessary minimum, seeing as they have the potential to cause loss of life and severe bodily harm.
“We wish to emphasize that precisely during these times of heightened tensions and sensitivities, the police must scrupulously abide by the rules limiting the use of force, in order to ensure the full exercise of free speech and freedom of protest, and to reduce the risk of harm to human life.”
ACRI’s letter to Jerusalem Police Chief regarding illegal dispersion of demonstrations in Jerusalem’s city center (translated to English) – 20 November 2012.
ACRI’s letter to Jerusalem Police Chief regarding the use of injurious measures to disperse demonstrations in East Jerusalem (translated to English) – 21 November 2012.