As Ben Gvir carries out unprecedented punitive measures against them, Shuafat residents warn that tensions in their camp could spark “a new intifada.”.
The Israeli army is allegedly using a policy of “collective punishment,” according to residents of the Shuafat refugee camp in Jerusalem, who have seen a sharp increase in punitive actions against them recently.
Following a crackdown on locals that Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel’s far-right minister of national security, began last week, Shuafat saw a day of demonstrations and civil disobedience on Sunday.
A member of the camp’s anti-occupation movement named Shurahbeil Alqam claimed that Ben Gvir’s recent “racist” decisions are what led to the strike. “Israel doesn’t believe that we should remain in Jerusalem. Even though the camp is the heart of Jerusalem, it uses every means at its disposal to speed up our exit from the city,” Alqam told reporters.
Not going to work in Israeli workplaces and refusing to pay taxes to the Israeli-run municipality and other state agencies were examples of civil disobedience. Overnight, young protesters erected barricades at the entrances to various East Jerusalem neighborhoods, including Shuafat, Anata, Jabal al-Mukabber, Issawiya, and al-Ram town, and they burned car tires.
People in Shuafat used rubber tires, garbage cans, and wooden boards to block off the streets. They also called for a boycott of the Israeli municipality in Jerusalem and stated that neither workers nor students would attend their schools.
Around 140,000 Palestinians live in Shuafat, where they were relocated from another camp for refugees in the Old City of Jerusalem after 1965. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) provided them with a piece of land in the east of the city so that they could temporarily reside there until the refugee issue was resolved. However, the issue remains unresolved.
One of the camp’s residents, Ramzy Ghanayem, claims that, despite possessing Israeli identification cards, Israel blocks their access to Jerusalem with a military checkpoint.
“There is a prevailing belief among the residents of Shuafat that Israel wants to expel them outside of Jerusalem or get rid of them in some way, because its residents constitute a good percentage of the number of Palestinians in the city, where Israeli settlers seek to become the majority,” Ghanayem stated. “There is a prevailing belief among the residents of Shuafat that Israel wants to expel them outside of Jerusalem.”
“The Shuafat camp is now a symbol of the ongoing Palestinian suffering caused by the oppressive policies of the Israeli occupation. As a result, it has been at the forefront of popular resistance, such as open strikes, civil disobedience, and protests against Israeli racism,” Ghanayem added.
The abuse of Palestinian students by Israeli soldiers on Wednesday has also fueled the most recent protests. A Palestinian student was assaulted and thrown to the ground by an Israeli soldier in viral CCTV footage. Another video showed student Saleh Diab being beaten after he was made to take off his clothes at a military checkpoint. His sister was also assaulted when she attempted to intervene and record the attack on her phone. Students in the Shuafat refugee camp in occupied East Jerusalem were on their way to school when the attacks occurred because Israeli soldiers prevented them from crossing the main military checkpoint in the area.
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