Multiple Palestinian institutions, including the office of the Palestinian Education Ministry and a TV station, were closed by Israel Police on Wednesday on orders issued by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan.
Erdan issued the order after intelligence information revealed that the Palestinian Authority was operating a branch of the Palestinian Education Ministry in al-Aytam school (Orphan Islamic School) in Jerusalem’s Old City.
“A fierce battle is under way here for the future and identity of Jerusalem, and every step should be taken to thwart the PA’s attempts to incite residents of east Jerusalem against Israel,” said Erdan.
#فيديو الاحتلال يغلق مكتب التربية والتعليم في القدس القديمة ويصادر معداته
The ministry’s branch operated as the Palestinian Parents Committee, and was funded, supervised and directed by the PA. The branch undermined Israel’s sovereignty through the initiation and guidance of forceful and violent actions.
All staff were removed from the school, and security forces confiscated files from inside the office, according to the Palestinian Safa news agency.
According to the Palestinian Wafa news agency, the school’s director, Samir Jibril, was arrested as well. The Palestinian Education Ministry said that the closure “represents an additional step in the occupation’s attempt to control the educational system in Jerusalem.”
In 2018, the Israeli government approved a plan to move Palestinian schools in east Jerusalem from the Palestinian curriculum to the Israeli curriculum. In response, the PA intensified its efforts to insert Palestinian national education into the education system in east Jerusalem. These efforts are illegal, as the PA is forbidden from operating within Israeli territory.
Erdan stressed that “a straight line connects these activities to the terrorist camps and the glorification of terrorists that the PA is funding. I will continue to strengthen the sovereignty and governance of Israel throughout Jerusalem and prevent Palestinian attempts to create a foothold in the eastern part of the city.”
“The government of Israel invests much effort and funds in order to combat the Palestinian influence in the east part of the city,” he said. “The activity that I ordered closed constitutes an intensification in the attempts by the PA to interfere with the education of children in east Jerusalem and to introduce inciteful content into the Israeli education system.”
“Israeli intelligence and police stormed the office of Palestine TV, which is inside the office of al-Arz Media Company, and prevented the employees from entering,” said one employee to Safa, who added that some devices were confiscated from the office. The employee claimed that this action went contrary to the Oslo Accords.
The TV station was closed because it broadcast content inciting against Israel and was funded directly by the PA illegally, according to the Public Security Ministry. Since the beginning of this year, Erdan has signed 10 closure orders against the PA in Jerusalem.
The Palestine TV station broadcasts anti-Israel and anti-Zionist content, which security forces believe is intended to incite viewers against Israel. Some of the programs discuss the Temple Mount and al-Aqsa Mosque, in which interviewers and interviewees create the impression of a “war” for Jerusalem and al-Aqsa, and that they must be defended from the “Zionist occupation forces.” Israel is presented as committing war crimes and ethnic cleansing.
Security officials found that the TV station is funded and associated with the PA, which goes against the Oslo Accords. A statement by the Public Security Ministry described the station as a symbol of the PA’s grip in Jerusalem.
THE PALESTINIAN Media Forum condemned the closure of the TV station, calling it a violation of freedom of the press, connecting it to the recent injury of a Palestinian journalist in the West Bank, the storming of the Wafa news agency offices in Ramallah and the destruction of al-Aqsa TV offices in Gaza, according to the Palestinian Sawa news agency.
The forum reaffirmed that the closure “will not undermine the will and determination of Palestinian journalists, who continue day and night to expose the crimes of the Israeli occupation.”
The Arab Health Center on Sultan Suleiman Street in Jerusalem was also closed by security forces, which also confiscated files and surveillance camera footage and arrested the director, according to Safa, which claimed that three Palestinian institutions were closed in Jerusalem.
Erdan has signed an unprecedented number of closure orders in order to combat the PA’s activities within Israeli territory. He initiated a legislative amendment to make such activities criminal and punishable with up to three years imprisonment.
The PA’s representative in Jerusalem, Adnan Ghaith, stated that American support gives Israel the legitimacy to target Palestinian institutions in Jerusalem, adding that the closures were a “flagrant violation” of international law, according to Sawa.
PA politician Hanan Ashrawi condemned the closures, calling them “a continuation of the Israeli government’s campaign against everything Palestinian in occupied Jerusalem and an attempt to alter the cultural and demographic composition of the city, in violation of its previous commitment to guarantee preserving Palestinian institutions in Jerusalem as well.”
Ashrawi stated that the closures were part of the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Jerusalem and called on all international bodies and states to “take immediate and tangible steps to hold Israel accountable for its persistent crimes and violations.”