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Report: Israel continues 'policy of reprisal' against Palestinians in Jabal al-Mukabbir

Jan. 23, 2017 10:28 P.M. (Updated: March 18, 2017 3:26 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli authorities have reportedly continued a “policy of reprisal” in the Palestinian neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabbir in occupied East Jerusalem, in response to a deadly truck attack carried out by Fadi al-Qunbar, one of the neighborhood’s residents, earlier this month that left four Israeli soldiers dead.

Palestinian state-run news agency Wafa reported on Monday that Israeli authorities, particularly from the Jerusalem municipality, have continued “reprisal measures” against Palestinian residents of Jabal al-Mukabbir in the form of intensified raids of homes and businesses, imposing taxes and giving orders for home demolitions under the pretext of building without a difficult-to-obtain permit issued by the municipality.

Wafa also cited local residents as saying that they have seen an increase in Israeli police-issued tickets to Palestinian drivers and cars parked on the streets of the neighborhood.

Residents said they have been subjected to “collective punishment” as a result of the attack.

While an Israeli police spokesperson was not immediately available for comment, a spokesperson from the Jerusalem municipality responded to a request for comment by Ma'an, saying that "the Jerusalem Municipality carries out enforcement in all areas of the city in order to preserve law and order, as is the case of all modern, democratic cities around the world. Jerusalem will continue to work to ensure that residents build within the confines of law and that violations of zoning and building codes are addressed to the fullest extent of the law, in all corners of the city."

Earlier this month, following reports that Israel’s interior minister decided to revoke the Jerusalem residency status of 13 of al-Qunbar’s relatives, including his mother, Israeli police raided their homes to deliver the revocation orders to some of the relatives, locking the family inside one room throughout the raid.

Israeli leaders also called for the family to be expelled to the besieged Gaza Strip or exiled to war-torn Syria in the wake of the attack.

The Jerusalem municipality has reportedly approved plans to establish a new settlement in the neighborhood, on the site of al-Qunbar’s home, according to Israel's Channel 10.

Israel’s security cabinet had already ordered Fadi al-Qunbar’s home to be demolished in spite of the family’s insistence that they had no advanced knowledge of plans by al-Qunbar to carry out an attack. The family will be left homeless by Israel's policy of punitive home demolition, which has been widely condemned as an act of collective punishment and illegal under international law.

In addition to the pending demolition of al-Qunbar’s home, Israel stepped up demolitions of other homes in the area in the wake of the attack, with Israeli human rights group B’Tselem reporting that Israeli authorities had handed 40 demolition notices in Jabal al-Mukabbir between January 8, when the attack took place, and January 11.

Despite attempts by Israel to connect the deadly attack to an alleged trend of global Islamist extremism, which the Palestinian Ministry of Information called a “venomous incitement campaign,” a number of alleged and actual car-ramming attacks have been carried out by Palestinians against Israelis since a wave of political unrest began in October 2015, as part of what has been referred to as the “Jerusalem Intifada.”

While Israeli officials have often claimed that attacks on Israelis are due mainly to anti-Semitic sentiment or part of a international rise in Islamist extremism, many Palestinians have instead pointed chiefly to the frustration and despair brought on by Israel's decades-long military occupation of the Palestinian territory, which was marked by an unrepresented surge in the demolition of Palestinian homes and the expansion of illegal Jewish settlements last year.

Israel has come under harsh condemnation over the past several years for its response to attacks committed by Palestinians on Israelis, which rights groups have said amounted to “collective punishment” and represents a clear violation of international law.
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