As Israel eases 'siege' on Shuafat camp, residents remain defiant

As Israel eases 'siege' on Shuafat camp, residents remain defiant
One of the activists, Raneen Sarhan, told TNA she expects the unrest to escalate if the Israeli 'siege' is not lifted.
3 min read
13 October, 2022

As Israel eased movement restrictions on the Shufat refugee camp on Thursday morning, residents of the camp under siege remain sceptical, however.

Yousef Mukkaemar, a community leader, said the easing of measures could be momentary, and therefore the strike is still in effect, meaning that workers and school children would stay home.

"The residents of the camp hold Israeli IDs and Israel has to remove the checkpoint altogether," Mukhaemar said.

On Wednesday, Palestinians in East Jerusalem went on a general strike. Businesses and schools shut down across the occupied city, heeding a call from the residents of the Shufat refugee camp who say they've been living under "siege-like" conditions.

 "There is one perpetrator but a hundred thousand people are being punished," Mukhaemar told The New Arab.

"It's collective punishment," he added.

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The Israeli authorities suspect that Udai Tamimi is hiding in the densely populated camp, home to more than a hundred thousand Palestinians.

Last Saturday, Tamimi, 21, approached Israeli soldiers at the Shuafat checkpoint and opened fire at close range-killing 18-year-old Seargent Noa Lazar. Two other Israeli security personnel were injured.

 In the wake of the shooting attack, the Israeli military kept the checkpoint shut for the most part but occasionally allowed traffic to pass at a slow pace.

Furious about Israel's restrictive measures, the camp's residents began a series of protests that culminated in a general strike in all of East Jerusalem on Wednesday. Clashes then erupted in multiple areas of East Jerusalem.

By the evening, protesters were on both sides of the Shuafat checkpoint.

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Inside the camp, not far from the checkpoint, young men threw Molotov bombs and rocks at the Israeli soldiers who took positions behind concrete blocks. The soldiers responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.

A defiant young masked protestor said to TNA the Israeli police were angry because they had failed to capture Udai Tamimi. 

"We will defend Udai; all of us will," he elaborated confidently.

Udai Tamimi is still at large, and his whereabouts are not known. His parent's home is inside the camp. Earlier the Israeli army took measurements of the house in preparation for blasting it.

"We are here to push them [Israeli authorities] to remove the checkpoint," the same protester said.  

A medic at the scene said the Israeli forces were using excessive amounts of tear gas near residential buildings causing harm to children.

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On the other side of the checkpoint, young men and women arrived at the doorsteps of Shuafat to show solidarity with the camp residents.

One of the activists, Raneen Sarhan, told TNA she expects the unrest to escalate if the Israeli 'siege' is not lifted.

"They are measures of the occupation; they're cruel," said Raneen.

Medhat Deeba, a lawyer representing the camp's residents, filed an objection to the Israeli Ministry of Public security, in charge of the Israeli police, demanding the reopening of the entry and exit points of the camp.

Deeba argued that the Israeli authorities could handle the shooting incident without violating the rights of the entire camp's population. 

"The Israeli military's measures are contrary to international and Israeli law and seem like an act of vengeance," Deeba said.