HaMoked to the High Court of Justice: The Israel Police must remove the barrier blocking the road linking the East Jerusalem neighborhood of 'Issawiya to the rest of the city המוקד להגנת הפרט
HaMoked to the High Court of Justice: The Israel Police must remove the barrier blocking the road linking the East Jerusalem neighborhood of 'Issawiya to the rest of the city
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On March 22, 2021, HaMoked petitioned the High Court of Justice (HCJ) to demand the removal of a concrete roadblock in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of ‘Issawiya, maintained for some twenty years. This roadblock seals off Haruba Street, one of the two roads connecting the neighborhood to the rest of Jerusalem (the neighborhood’s two other access roads are to the east, leading to other parts of the West Bank). The petition was joined by six residents of the neighborhood who are harmed by the roadblock and two university lecturers who are members of Academia for Equality.

The barrier, close to the main entrance of the Hebrew University campus on Mount Scopus, was imposed by the police in 2001, and has been maintained ever since, except for a short period a decade ago. As a result, the residents of the neighborhood must cope with extremely heavy traffic when making their way to other parts of the city for the most basic and mundane purposes, such as work, studies and medical treatment. Additionally, the roadblock causes unnecessary – and potentially fatal – delays in the arrival of emergency services, such as fire and rescue services. The police’s insistence on maintaining the roadblock causes disproportionate and unreasonable harm to thousands of innocent people, burdening their daily lives, and exposing them to unnecessary risks.

In HaMoked’s lengthy correspondence with the police on this matter, the latter claimed the roadblock was necessary due to violent incidents by “terrorist entities and public-disturbance activists”. However, the police’s own data for such events throughout 2020, show that only one person was injured, and in any event, most of the incidents they cite were vegetation fires in adjacent fields (and not necessarily the result of human activity or acts of malice). These facts support HaMoked’s claims that the permanent roadblock constitutes prohibited and disproportionate collective punishment. It also fails to meet the strict legal criteria for installing a police barrier, requiring the existence of a “real threat of severe harm”. The petitioners argued in this context that the police possess various powers to handle recurrent offences or public disturbances, among them the investigation of crimes, indictment of offenders and measures for keeping public order. “The police may not block the access [road] of an entire population to a certain location for years on end, certainly not when dealing with an entrance to a neighborhood of some 20,000 people, instead of diligently pursing its task of law enforcement. The police is a public authority and owes allegiance to the entire public, including the public living in 'Issawiya, and it must conduct itself in a manner beneficial rather than harmful to this public. The same as it does across the country.”
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