The riots in Jerusalem continued on Wednesday night. On Hillel Street in downtown Jerusalem, a fight broke out between young Jews and Arab workers of the municipality’s sanitation department. Both sides used sticks and other objects. A young man was lightly injured and required medical attention.
Police and Border Police forces detained 15-year-old residents of eastern Jerusalem for questioning.
Police were called to the Railroad Park in the city following reports that several suspects were causing damage to vehicles and plucking Israeli flags attached to them.
A young Jew was slightly stabbed in a brawl between Jews and Arabs in Safra Square in the city.
The police stated that “during the night, a resident of eastern Jerusalem was arrested after allegedly being involved in a brawl together with others in the area of Safra Square, where two were injured. He was taken for questioning. The investigation into the brawl is ongoing and further arrests are expected.”
A fight broke out in the nearby IDF Square as well.
In Zion Square, the crews of Kan 11 and Channel 13 were attacked. Suleiman Maswada, a Kan 11 reporter who was attacked here, recalled: “We found ourselves in the middle of Zion Square without police, and on the other side there were lots of young people who took part in some fights and found easy prey in the form of journalists. There was one riot police car at Zion Square in response to some earlier fights. When it left, the rioters started attacking us. I was punched twice and one of them threw off my phone. I was told: ‘Be careful, you are not only a journalist but also an Arab.’ We were smacked about.”
In another incident that took place Wednesday night, police forces arrested a 16-year-old suspect from Issawiya in eastern Jerusalem who threw a stone at the police forces near Damascus gate. The suspect was detained for questioning. Police dispersed a gathering of Arab protesters there using stun grenades.
The police are preparing for a demonstration by the Lehavah organization on Thursday evening at Damascus Gate, fearing that clashes will erupt between Jews and Arabs. A WhatsApp group that was set up to promote the demonstration, which includes about 200 Jewish youths, was calling for an attack on Arabs in the city on Thursday evening.
The Lehavah organization stated this week that “Jerusalem has become the Wild West. Arab terrorists terrorize and attack Jews daily. The Israel Police is silent. The time when Jews were beaten and kept silent is over.”
Lehavah (Hebrew acronym for Prevention of Assimilation in the Holy Land) is an Israeli right-wing organization founded by activist Ben-Zion Gupstein. Its purpose, as it appears in its publications, is “to save Jewish girls who have been tempted to associate with a Gentile.”
The organization works to prevent Jewish women from associating with non-Jews and also offers practical and legal help to Jewish women on severing their romantic ties with non-Jews.
Members of the organization also encourage Jewish labor because the employment of Arabs in Jewish-owned businesses contributes to an increase in the rate of assimilation in Israel.
Tensions in Jerusalem began with the start of the Muslim month of Ramadan last week. The police decided to bar access to the stairs at the Damascus Gate leading to the Old City during this period, to prevent young Arabs who usually sit there from harassing Jewish passers-by. That’s how the riots began. These young Arabs, most of them minors, throw stones and bottles almost every evening, shoot fireworks at security forces and cause damage to civilian and police vehicles – in protest of the closure of the stairs. These events usually take place at the end of the evening prayer on the Temple Mount, when the rioters are feeling most religious.
At the same time, a phenomenon has developed of young Arabs abusing Jews, especially Haredim, documenting the assaults and posting the videos to social media, especially TikTok. The first such video shocked many Israelis, showing a young Arab man slapping a yeshiva student on the light rail.
Three people were arrested on suspicion of involvement with that initial incident, including the 17-year-old slapping suspect from Shuafat, who had fled to the PA and was arrested eventually at the Qalandiya crossing. Several copycat videos have since been posted, and in response, on Monday night, young Jews raged in downtown Jerusalem, chanting anti-Arab slogans and even attacking a young Arab with pepper spray.
The young men were shouting, among other things, “Death to the Arabs,” and “An Arab is a son of a whore.”