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Activist Sees Silver Lining in Northern Jerusalem Riots

Ongoing police activity in northern Jerusalem brings 25 arrests, 15 police injuries, 200 tickets – and signs of Israeli sovereignty in the capital.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 2/10/2010, 4:32 PM / Last Update: 2/10/2010, 6:31 PM

Jerusalem reclaiming sovereignty: the ongoing police activity in the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat, also known as a “Palestinian refugee camp," has led to the arrest of some 25 lawbreakers, some 15 police injuries, 200 traffic tickets, and more.

Jerusalem activist Aryeh King is pleased with the multi-faceted activity, and hopes it is not just a one-time affair: “Until now, Shuafat has been known as a ‘city of refuge’ for Arab lawbreakers, in that they knew that the police would never come there. Happily, the police and Border Guard arrived on Saturday night, for the first time in years, and then on Sunday, more officials from the tax authorities, city inspectors and the National Insurance Institute came – to do what is normally done in every other city of the world: enforce the law. They took care of things like illegal signs and unlicensed businesses, and are looking into illegal construction. Some inspectors told me that this was the first time in their three years of work that they had entered this place.”

“Perhaps we really see a change here,” King said, “though it’s hard to know whether it is Mayor Barkat who is leading it, or whether it’s because of the Supreme Court petitions that we have filed. For instance, we recently filed suit regarding the lack of law enforcement in the Kfar Akeb and Kalandia neighborhoods, and Judge Procaccia gave the Municipality 60 days to being enforcing the law in all neighborhoods - even those on the other side of the partition wall, in accordance with the law.”

Continuing Jewish life after 1,900 years
Archaeological evidence was recently discovered, during a salvage dig conducted in preparation for the laying of the tracks for the Jerusalem Light Rail system, showing active Jewish presence in the Shuafat area shortly after the fall of the Second Temple, 1,900 years ago. The findings, which include signs of rows of houses and two fine public bathhouses, are said to be the first indication of an active Jewish settlement in the area of Jerusalem after the city fell in 70 CE.

An expert in Jewish reclamation of land and buildings in the Jerusalem area, King was asked about the recent developments regarding Beit Yehonatan – a Jewish-owned building in Silwan, just southeast of the Temple Mount. “Interior Minister Eli Yishai’s decision to approve the legality of the building retroactively is a positive development,” King said, “but I don’t believe it will be the end of the story. The State Prosecution [which has called for the building to be sealed] will not let this go so easily. In the end, I believe that a compromise along the lines of Mayor Barkat – namely, that dozens of illegal Arab buildings in the area will be retroactively approved, together with Beit Yehonatan – will be implemented.”