Israel Police officers dispersed a parents’ committee meeting in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya on Saturday, acting on the orders of new National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, who charged that the meeting was a “terror summit” funded by the Palestinian Authority.
The parents said they were presented with a document signed by Ben Gvir that said the meeting was “in violation of the law” for its alleged inclusion of PA “activists.”
Ben Gvir said in a statement that it was time to stop PA activities in the capital, and “not allow the PA to hold terror summits in Jerusalem.”
The chairman of the parents’ committee in Issawiya told Haaretz that the meeting was held to discuss a shortage of teachers in neighborhood schools and that following the police raid, he and two other parents were called in for police questioning on Sunday.
“We held a meeting of the parents’ committee and the police came and showed us an order from Itamar Ben Gvir and told us that the meeting was illegal because it is related to the Palestinian Authority,” said Mahmoud Faiz.
“I told the police officer that this was a committee chosen by the pupils’ parents and that we have no connection to the Palestinian Authority,” he went on, adding that the parents met to discuss concerns about staff shortages. “We don’t want our children to be on the streets,” said Faiz.
It was not immediately clear how the meeting was tied to the PA.
Police said in a statement that officers dispersed the participants and confirmed that three people had been summoned for questioning. They said rocks were thrown at officers during the operation and police responded with crowd dispersion measures.
Israel banned the Palestinian Authority from carrying out official business in East Jerusalem in 2001, in accordance with the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip that prohibits the PA from operating in Israeli territory.
Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in the Six Day War of 1967 and later extended sovereignty over it in a move never recognized by most of the international community. It considers the entire city its capital, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of their hoped-for future state.
In 2021, police broke up an event at a women’s center in East Jerusalem to mark International Women’s Day, charging that it was held illegally. Two years prior, Israeli authorities entered a French cultural center in Jerusalem to cancel a Mother’s Day event, alleging it was set to involve an association supported by the Palestinian Authority.
Last month, Ben Gvir secured unprecedented control over law enforcement as part of his newly formed National Security Ministry in a coalition deal struck with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party whose government took office in late December.
Repackaging it and expanding it from the existing Public Security Ministry, Ben Gvir drew additional powers to himself in both passed and planned legislation, and has secured a staggering coalition promise to be given control of the Border Police.
The deal means far-right Ben Gvir, who has multiple convictions for supporting a Jewish terror group and for incitement to racism, will be in charge of the force that carries out sensitive operations in the West Bank, is in charge of quelling Palestinian riots and protests, and is responsible for policing demonstrations within Israel as well.
A law passed last month at Ben Gvir’s behest gave the Otzma Yehudit leader broad political control over the Israel Police including the ability to direct general police policy, and increased the minister’s influence over policy on investigations policy.
The ultra-nationalist party also obtained commitments to advance legislation to change the legal liability of soldiers and security personnel for actions they take in the line of duty, institute a death penalty for convicted terrorists, strip other attackers of their nationality and deport them, review the possibility of downgrading prison conditions for Palestinian terror inmates, and ban the Palestinian flag from state-funded institutions and local municipal authorities.