JERUSALEM — Tucked away in the alleys of the Old City, many Palestinian merchants are taking hits to their businesses as a result of the recent unrest in Jerusalem. Due to the attacks on police and civilians, as well as demonstrations by both Jews and Arabs in the area, police presence in the Old City is extremely high. Sometimes roads and entrance gates are closed, and police checkpoints are a common sight.
The Israeli police view such measures as necessary given the copious number of violent attacks in such a short period of time. Palestinian merchants, on the other hand, believe the restriction on the freedom of movement and fear among tourists are hurting their businesses. They estimate that their sales have dropped significantly — by more than half in some cases — since violence began in mid-September. At an already volatile time, this is breeding discontent among the city’s Palestinian merchant class, who blame the Israeli police for the economic downturn.