Last Updated: Tue Nov 02, 2010 21:53 pm (KSA) 18:53 pm (GMT)

Israel to place Palestinian children under house arrest

A young Palestinian boy throws a stone at an Israeli armed personal carrier
A young Palestinian boy throws a stone at an Israeli armed personal carrier

Israeli police said on Tuesday they would begin imposing house arrest on stone-throwing youths in east Jerusalem and hold their parents legally responsible for their actions.

"The police will bring the situation of children throwing stones at the police and at Jewish cars under control with court orders imposing strict house arrest on these children," police spokesman Shmulik Ben Ruby told AFP.

The new measures are aimed at the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, where Palestinian children and teenagers have repeatedly clashed with police and Jewish settler guards in recent weeks.

The tensions stem from an urban development plan pushed by the Israeli-run municipality that would see the destruction of 22 out of 88 homes that were built without legal permits.

The presence of dozens of families of Jewish settlers living in and around an archaeological site in the crowded Arab neighborhood just outside the walls of the Old City has further inflamed the situation.

Ben Ruby said children placed under house arrest would have to be accompanied by a legal guardian going to and from school.

"We on our side will repeatedly investigate the house, and if there is a violation of the house arrest the parents will be held legally responsible and will have to appear in court in the place of their children," he said.

"We have tried this approach over the last two weeks and found it to be an effective deterrent. It has had a major effect on the ground and the stone-throwing has declined recently."

Fakhri Abu Diab, a neighborhood activist, said the new policy amounted to "collective punishment" and would do little to reduce the violence.

"The municipality should set up clubs for the children, who need to feel a sense of security in their homes instead of feeling threatened by their demolition," he said.

"The daily clashes in Silwan need a political solution," he added.

Silwan lies in Arab east Jerusalem, which Israel seized in the 1967 Six Day War and annexed in a move not recognised by the international community.

The Palestinians view east Jerusalem as the capital of their promised state, and the city's future status has been one of the thorniest issues in peace talks going back to the early 1990s.

Settlers accuse Israel of imposing ‘de facto’ freeze

Jewish settler leaders accused the Israeli government on Tuesday of enforcing an unofficial freeze on the construction of public housing in the occupied West Bank.

At a meeting of a parliamentary lobby group, Danny Dayan, chairman of the Yesha Council of settlers, said work on around 4,000 government-funded housing units had been held up because Defense Minister Ehud Barak had not signed off on the invitations to tender.

"The construction of more than 4,000 homes in the West Bank could begin immediately if the defense minister would sign off on the tenders," he told members of the Greater Israel lobby group.

"The government respected its decision to freeze construction for 10 months, and it is time to respect its promises and authorize new projects in Judaea and Samaria," he said, using the biblical terms for the southern and northern West Bank.

Israel imposed a partial 10-month moratorium on West Bank building which expired at the end of September, bring newly started peace talks with the Palestinians to a halt.

Israel has refused to reimpose the moratorium, while the Palestinians say they will not hold talks while settlers are building on Palestinian land.

The temporary freeze did not include construction in annexed Arab east Jerusalem, nor did it affect projects which had already been started before the freeze came into effect in November 2009.

Israeli students incensed by ultra-Orthodox benefit

Israeli university students on Tuesday demanded that the government drop plans to pay stipends to ultra-Orthodox Jews who study the Torah but do not work.

Protests over the so-called Yeshiva bill in the past week highlight growing Israeli resentment of the 600,000 ultra-Orthodox "haredim", who live almost entirely off state welfare benefits.

Several thousand students held a protest march in Jerusalem on Monday warning Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu they were not "suckers" who would meekly accept what they regard as rank discrimination.

Netanyahu's coalition government relies for its survival on the support of ultra-religious parties, who have traditionally exacted a price from Israeli leaders for their backing, usually in the form of benefits for their own community.

Students holding strikes and protests on Tuesday were angered by reports that the government also has plans to tax their scholarships, in a little-noticed amendment to the omnibus enabling bill that accompanies the annual budget.

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