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Friday, December 14, 2012

Israeli Supreme Court to decide whether 'settlers' can employ private guard services

Butting in yet again in a case that should be none of their business, Israel's Supreme Court has decided to consider the question of whether 'settlers' in 'east' Jerusalem may hire private security guards to do a job that the police are unwilling to do: Protect them from their Arab neighbors.
Roughly 350 armed security guards from the Modi’in Ezrahi company are employed in east Jerusalem.
The company won a public tender from the Construction and Housing Ministry to provide security for Jewish residents living in places like Silwan and the Old City’s Muslim Quarter.
The guards are responsible for regular patrols around Jewish apartments, securing Jewish residents’ as they enter and exit their homes, and escorting their children to school in the Old City’s Jewish Quarter.
During the hearing, the justices found it problematic that the Housing Ministry had undertaken responsibility for security matters. But they warned that the police would never do “static” guarding – maintaining a permanent patrol in one place – something the private company does. The court is expected to hand down its ruling in the coming weeks. 


There are approximately 2,000 Jewish residents living in predominantly Arab neighborhoods in east Jerusalem. Places such as the heavily guarded Beit Yehonatan apartment building in Silwan, home to seven Jewish families, have become flashpoints for stone throwing and verbal abuse between Jewish and Arab neighbors.
A resident of Beit Yehonatan who declined to give his name insisted that he was not concerned about the petition.
“I don’t care,” he said. “However the state wants to protect us, I trust them.”
The Construction and Housing Ministry budget for private security guards in east Jerusalem has risen from NIS 7 million in 1991 to NIS 76 million in 2011, according to ACRI figures.
In early 2010, Construction and Housing Minister Ariel Atias sent a letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu recommending that security for the area be the responsibility of a “professional body” such as the police, rather than the ministry, which is not equipped to handle such matters.
Sorry, but this should be decided by the City of Jerusalem or by the national government's executive branch. It's not a decision that belongs in court. 

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