Riots caused tens of millions of shekels in damage and destroyed the Shoafat and Es-Sahl station [...] Residents of Jerusalem’s Shoafat neighborhood are unlikely to enjoy service on the city’s light rail network for several months as CityPass, the company that operates the system, works first to repair the rails and signaling mechanisms destroyed during last week’s rioting, and only later the stations serving the area. — Haaretz
The Shoafat and Es-Sahl light rail stations in East Jerusalem were attacked last week after news broke that an Arab young man – Mohamed Abu Khdeir – had been kidnapped, burned alive, and abandoned in a forest. Many commentators view the killing as vengeance for the recent deaths of three Israeli teenage settlers in Hebron, in the Occupied West Bank, which the Israeli government has blamed on Hamas. The situation is tragic – and rapidly escalating. At least 27 Palestinians have been killed and 130 wounded in the intense bombardment the Israeli army has unleashed on Gaza in the past few days.
The attack on the light rail stations were committed by Israeli Arabs and Palestinians who live in the areas around the stations. For many, the destruction is highly symbolic. When first constructed, the light rail was considered by some to be a symbol of the possibility of peaceful coexistence between Arabs and Jews. However, for others, it was viewed similarly to the massive border wall demarcating the West Bank: a piece of infrastructure that ensures the continued imposition of apartheid politics on Arabs by Israelis. After all, East Jerusalem is still considered by international law to be illegally-occupied territory. By connecting the territory to the rest of Jerusalem via infrastructure, the Israeli government signaled it has absolutely no intention of ever returning the land back to its original and lawful inhabitants. In return, by destroying the light rail, those involved assumedly meant to signal that they would continue to resist.
This is just one of many cases in which infrastructure has been utilized as a political tool. In 1994, the American-born Israeli extremist Baruch Goldstein opened fire on Muslims engaged in prayers at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, West Bank. While the Israeli government condemned the attack, their reaction to the subsequent riots including the banning of Palestinians from entering the formerly-active market of Al-Shuhada Street (a ban which persists today.) For many, these policies are fundamentally similar to those of South Africa during apartheid, which had advanced infrastructure for whites but relegated black people to townships with abysmal conditions.
Of course, similar practices have occurred, and still occur, in the United States. Before the civil rights movements, urban infrastructure served as the terrain for the forced subjugation of African-Americans. Today, one could argue the same practices persist, targeting the poor, and, in particularly disenfranchised people of color. For example, the Department of Water and Power in Detroit has been shutting off water for the city's poorest residents.