Program aimed at curbing violence in eastern Jerusalem
By Aryeh Savir
Tazpit News Agency
JERUSALEM – The Cabinet approved yesterday (Jun. 30) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan for the socio-economic development of Jerusalem. The Government is working in a variety of ways to develop and strengthen the city.
For the first time, a comprehensive socio-economic development plan was presented and will be for eastern Jerusalem. One of the main objectives of the plan is to bring about a significant decline in violence by means of improving infrastructure, employment, education and social welfare and by boosting enforcement and personal security. The working assumption of this project is that there is a link between the scope and level of violence by residents of eastern Jerusalem and the standard of living in their neighborhoods; improvement of their living standards should bring to a curbing in their expression of violence against Israelis.
An additional Cabinet decision that was formulated by Cabinet Secretary Mendelblit in coordination with Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and the State Attorney’s Office deals with strengthening enforcement capabilities regarding stone-throwing offenses. In light of crime data, police presence in the area will be increased, both physically and technologically. In the framework of boosting security, a security system based on technological means and warning systems will be established.
The Cabinet also adopted a plan to deal with stone-throwing offenses and is designed to provide authorities with effective law enforcement tools for trying and detaining those involved in such offenses.
306,000 residents live in eastern Jerusalem and constitute 38% of the city’s population as well as approximately 20% of the minority population of the country. Their civil status is that of residents and not citizens. The socio-economic situation in eastern Jerusalem is among the lowest in the country and is characterized by an especially high rate of children and families below the poverty line, a low rate of participation in the labor force and an especially high rate of school drop-outs, about 30%.
It should be noted that in recent years there has been a sharp increase in acts of violence and stone-throwing in the eastern part of the city. According to data provided by the Israel Police, in March-April 2014 alone, approximately 990 police files were opened in the region for violent offenses including disturbing of the peace, attacking police officers and robbery.
It was also reported that there were approximately 390 incidents of stone-throwing at vehicles, as well as dozens of cases of stolen vehicles and break-ins. The Prime Minister’s Office emphasized that these offenses are nationalistically motivated and are not perpetrated in a similar scope in other parts of the country. These displays of violence are being perpetrated in the capital of the State of Israel, close to the holiest sites of the three major faiths, which have considerable tourist and public diplomacy significance and which draw pilgrims from around the world.
According to Israel Police assessments, the plan will lead to a significant decline in the short- and medium-term of over 50% in displays of violence.