Press Releases 

Coronavirus or not - police continues to harass in Esawiyah

Israel Police continues to abuse Palestinians in al-’Esawiyah, including false arrests of minors, in operation ongoing since April 2019

Despite the unprecedented health crisis requiring residents of Israel and the Occupied Territories to take extreme social isolation measures, the Israel Police have chosen now, of all times, to escalate their abuse and collective punishment of Palestinians in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of al-’Esawiyah, as part of an operation that began in April 2019.

Border Police and Special Patrol Unit officers invade the crowded neighborhood daily, even at night, and more so on weekends, for no apparent reason and initiate friction with the residents. In the ensuing confrontations, the police act violently, firing sponge rounds, tear gas canisters and stun grenades. They also close off the entrances to the neighborhood. During these incursions, the police arrest residents, mostly minors, and take them to a police station where they are interrogated alone. Most minors are released after a short period, sometimes after spending all night in custody.

The police abuse of Palestinians in al-’Esawiyah, by now a permanent feature of life in the neighborhood, is illegal and cannot be justified even under normal circumstances. Yet at this sensitive time, such conduct exposes residents to substantial, completely unnecessary health risks, as it encourages gatherings and forces arrested residents, including many minors, to leave home and be around strangers.

The police conduct is jeopardizing public health (including that of the police officers themselves) and violating the medical guidelines on social isolation. The fact that Israeli authorities disregard the lives of al-’Esawiyah residents, including children and teens, is nothing new. Yet continuing and even escalating such conduct during a pandemic is an especially appalling manifestation of this policy.

For additional information: Amit Gilutz, +972-54-6841126,

Forming a Government in the Time of COVID-19:

A Zoom Video Briefing with Yael Patir and Barak Ravid - THURSDAY, MARCH 19 AT 4PM EASTERN.

Israelis are now fully preoccupied with the extraordinary public health measures that are being taken to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. With roughly 300 confirmed cases in the country, schools, restaurants and recreational areas are closed, and gatherings of more than ten people have been banned.

Incredibly, this health crisis has hit Israel at one of the most politically uncertain periods in its history -- just days after an unprecedented third election that, once again, effectively ended in a complicated deadlock.

Benjamin Netanyahu remains prime minister on an interim basis, exercising major executive authority to respond to the virus -- even as his chief rival Benny Gantz has been handed the first mandate to try to form the next government. Gantz has an incredible opportunity to finally bring the Netanyahu era to a close, but only if he can successfully navigate the huge divides between key members of the broad bloc that wishes to replace the prime minister.

Can he convince the right-wingers in Yisrael Beiteinu and his own Blue and White party to form a minority government supported by the Arab-majority Joint List? Can he convince the Joint List that a Gantz-led government will look out for the Arab community’s key priorities? Or will he be forced to seek a “national emergency unity government” with Netanyahu and Likud? And what about the corruption trial still looming ahead for the PM?

To discuss these questions, Israel’s overall response to the COVID-19 virus and whether “normal” politics are even possible under the current circumstances, we’re inviting you to join a briefing call with leading Israeli journalist Barak Ravid, moderated by J Street's Israel Director Yael Patir.

The call will take place this Thursday, March 19 at 4pm ET.

Register now for our webinar

Like the US, Israel appears to be at a massively important crossroads. If you’re able to, we hope you’ll join us on Thursday to hear about how all these events are unfolding -- and what important new developments the next few weeks might hold.

Wishing good health and safety to you and your loved ones,

Logan Bayroff Director of Communications

Speaker Bio: Barak Ravid is the Senior Diplomatic Correspondent at Israel’s Channel 13 News and a regular contributor to Axios, writing about Israeli politics and the US-Israel relationship.