Unprecedented Curfew Lifted in East Jerusalem Neighborhood
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Unprecedented Curfew Lifted in East Jerusalem Neighborhood

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Police lifted a curfew on an Arab neighborhood in East Jerusalem Saturday night, 24 hours after it was imposed because of rioting.

The area affected was A-Tur, on the Mount of Olives, which has about 1,000 Arab inhabitants. The curfew was the first to be applied to any part of Jerusalem since the city was unified after the 1967 Six-Day War. It had immediate political implications.

Hanna Seniora, editor of the East Jerusalem daily Al-Fajr, one of a group of Palestinian leaders who met Sunday with visiting West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, said the curfew proved that East Jerusalem was an integral part of the West Bank.

Israel, which has formally annexed East Jerusalem but not the West Bank, has always drawn a distinction between the capital, where Israeli law applies, and the territories, which are run by a civil-military administration that applies Jordanian law to the Palestinian inhabitants.

The curfew on A-Tur was lifted due to the intervention by Mayor Teddy Kollek of Jerusalem, who was clearly disturbed by it. But police officials warned they would not hesitate to clamp curfews on any part of the city where rioting breaks outs.

The rioting at A-Tur, which is a tourist attraction because of its vantage point on the Mount of Olives, followed the end of the Moslem Sabbath on Friday evening.

The city had been quiet most of Friday. A small demonstration on the Temple Mount, site of some of the holiest Islamic shrines, ended without police intervention.


But by evening, A-Tur was ablaze with burning tires, blocking the road to the Jerusalem Intercontinental Hotel. Bottles and stones were hurled at passing cars.

According to police, each time they removed roadblocks, new ones were erected. As the situation deteriorated, police drove through the neighborhood in jeeps, using bullhorns to order all residents into their homes.

The curfew remained in force throughout the night and all day Saturday, as city officials negotiated with local Arab leaders for a commitment that the rioting would not be resumed.

Jerusalem Police Chief Yosef Yehudai said, “I hope all residents of East Jerusalem will understand the message. If they don’t let us live in peace, neither will they.”

Kollck was angered because the police acted without consulting him. He maintained that unrest in the city can be handled without resorting to curfews, a holdover from the British Mandate’s emergency regulations, which are not applied in Israeli territory.

The situation was relatively calm elsewhere over the weekend. But soldiers wounded an Arab youth with rubber bullets during a demonstration Sunday in Ramallah.

Curfews were lifted at most refugee camps in the Gaza Strip, but not on the biggest of all, Jabalya, which has about 50,000 inhabitants.

A curfew also remained in force in some parts of the large refugee camp at Rafah at the southernmost end of the Gaza Strip.

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