The Jerusalem Police announced on Tuesday a massive reform of its East Jerusalem district, including the deployment of at least 1,200 new officers and the opening of six additional police stations in areas of the capital that have been virtually unserved by police.
Despite Israel’s official annexation of the city’s neighborhoods over the Green Line, a move not recognized by the international community, East Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods suffer from neglect and poor infrastructure. Palestinian residents refuse to vote in Jerusalem’s municipal elections so as not to de facto recognize Israeli annexation of areas they hope to see as the future capital of a Palestinian state.
Deputy Commissioner Yoram Halevy, who commands the Jerusalem Police, has led a major restructuring of the force that seeks to correct the police’s part in the disconnect between east and west.
The purpose, a police statement said Tuesday, is to “strengthen and deepen the rule of law throughout Jerusalem and in the villages of East Jerusalem, enhance accessibility to police services and provide quality police services to all residents of the city, with an emphasis on strengthening the shared day-to-day life of the public as a whole.”
The six new stations will be tasked not only with counter-terrorism efforts against extremists living in the neighborhoods — a function already fulfilled by the Jerusalem Police’s intelligence and elite combat units — but primarily to serve local residents and push back against rampant crime.
The stations will open in the neighborhoods of Issawiya, a-Tur, Beit Safafa, Jabel Mukaber and Sur Baher.
The plan is expected to cost some NIS 1 billion ($262 million) in the first four years.
Halevy’s plan recognizes and acknowledges the neglect that characterized the state’s relationship with those neighborhoods, and includes appointing municipal officials from various public services in the new police stations. In an effort to convince residents of the police’s good intentions, the stations will focus during their first two years of operations on providing these services, rather than upping enforcement.
East Jerusalem’s police hierarchy will also be upgraded within the national police district structure, and will be commanded for the first time by an officer of an assistant commissioner’s rank, equal to that of the officer who heads the combined forces in west Jerusalem.
Some 1,200 new positions have already been approved, and some 200 new officers have been hired.