World, Middle East

Israel mulls army control over East J’lem neighborhood

Army ‘reviewing possibility’ of assuming security responsibility over East Jerusalem district, Haaretz reports

17.01.2018
Israel mulls army control over East J’lem neighborhood FILE PHOTO

JERUSALEM

The Israeli army is examining the possibility of assuming security responsibility for an East Jerusalem district that lies outside the West Bank separation barrier, Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Wednesday.

“The Defense Ministry has confirmed that the Army Central Command and the headquarters of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) are reviewing the possibility of assuming responsibility for security in the Shuafat refugee camp and Kafr Aqab [district],” Haartez quoted an unnamed “defense establishment” source as saying.

In such a scenario, the newspaper reported, the army’s Binyamin Brigade, which is responsible for the Ramallah area, would “assume control over Shuafat and Kafr Aqab in cooperation with COGAT”.

Haaretz quoted one official as saying that “the decision to examine these changes was taken at the outbreak of the last wave of violence in Jerusalem”, which was prompted by last month’s controversial U.S. decision to recognize the city as Israel’s capital.

In 2002, Israel began building a massive separation barrier across the occupied West Bank, effectively cutting the Palestinian neighborhood of Kafr Aqab -- along with the Shuafat refugee camp -- off from the rest of East Jerusalem.

Over 170,000 Palestinian residents of Jerusalem now live in areas beyond the wall, most of whom lack basic services and whose freedom of movement is sorely restricted by numerous Israeli army checkpoints.

Israel first occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, during the 1967 Middle East War. It annexed the entire city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the Jewish state in a move never recognized by the international community.

On Dec. 6, U.S. President Donald Trump announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, drawing widespread condemnation and protest from across the Arab and Muslim world.

Jerusalem remains at the heart of the Middle East conflict, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem -- now occupied by Israel -- might eventually serve as the capital of a Palestinian state.

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