The Jerusalem light rail suspended its services Monday to help Israeli undercover forces kidnap a child, according to an eyewitness.
Supported by a large military force, the undercover unit arrested a ten-year-old boy who lives near the light rail in Shuafat, a neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem. The boy has been accused of throwing stones at the light rail.
The trains that usually run on the light rail line were absent for the period of the invasion, suggesting it must have been coordinated with the light rail operator. French multinational Veolia plays a key role in the day-to-day operations of the light rail.
The Israeli undercover forces were dressed as Palestinians while carrying out the arrest operation at around 7:45pm – the busiest time in the evening. Regular Israeli forces provided massive support while the undercover unit surrounded the targeted house with a barrage of stun grenades, a Jerusalem resident who goes by the pseudonym Zalameh said in a message to me.
Zalameh, a resident of Shuafat and frequent contributor to The Electronic Intifada who tweets as @BDS4justice, witnessed the whole arrest.
“Israeli forces assaulted literally anyone they saw on their way. Beating the women and children at the house they entered and arresting a number of youth who resisted the attack,” Zalameh added.
The construction of Israel’s light rail line connecting West Jerusalem with illegal Israeli settlements in occupied East Jerusalem has reduced Shuafat neighborhood’s main road to one lane on either sides of the light rail track. Every 300 meters a traffic light along the Shuafat light rail stretch slows down the traffic, because the eight lights are only green for about ten seconds.
Israeli undercover forces acted quickly, and focused overwhelming firepower to paralyze the target, said Zalameh. But at the busiest times, traffic on the main road in Shuafat moves very slowly, which would have made such a quick operation impossible without the cooperation of the light rail operators. A slow retreat would have provoked heavy resistance from Shuafat’s residents, angry at being frequently subjected to ongoing Israeli harassment.
So Israeli forces had to use the light rail line to execute the arrest, driving their vehicles along the tracks. The light rail service was suspended in advance of the attack, Zalameh said. This proves that Israeli forces coordinated their attack with the light rail operator.
After the undercover unit left, the regular Israeli occupation army clashed with the youth in Shuafat as the neighborhood quickly mobilized to repel the attack, said Zalameh. The light rail service was suspended for the rest of the night.
Veolia has played a key role in the realization and the operation of the Jerusalem light rail. Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank are illegal and the transfer of the Israeli population to such settlements constitutes a war crime, according to human rights group Al-Haq.
Veolia has now taken its role in Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights one step further by making way for Israeli undercover forces to execute the arrest of a ten-year-old Palestinian child who allegedly threw stones at the light rail. Meanwhile, the boy has been released, according to an IMEMC report.
The boycott, divestment and sanctions movement will continue to put pressure on Veolia as long as it is involved in Israel’s violations of international law.