Over the past seven days, three separate hate crimes against Palestinians in Jerusalem have been documented, according to Israeli media sources.
On Sunday, the Israeli paper Haaretz reported that “several dozen Orthodox men” began throwing stones, as well as tables and chairs from a sidewalk café, at Palestinian passersby near Damascus Gate in Jerusalem, in the al-Misrara neighborhood. At least five Palestinians were injured in the attack, and several vehicles were damaged. No arrests were made.
Footage from Twitter shows a large number of men running down the street, shouting anti-Arab slurs:
▶️Crowds of #Israeli #Jewish colonist settlers wage a wave of #Terrorist attacks against the #Palestinian Al-Misrara neighborhood in occupied #Jerusalem-vandalized & damaged a number of #Palestinians properties, shops & homes while chanting #HateSpeech against the #Palestinians pic.twitter.com/DutFWK34dG
— Saif Bitar (@BitarSaif) October 1, 2018
Last Wednesday, in Gonenim Park in the Katamon neighborhood of southwest Jerusalem, which is traditionally a Palestinian Christian area, a gang of Orthodox men attacked four Palestinian students, all of whom are residents of Beit Safafa neighborhood in Jerusalem.
One of the survivors of the attack, law student Islam Agwa, told reporters, “We were sitting there for maybe five minutes when we saw a group of about 30 men, age 20 to 35 – one looked like their rabbi, around 55. They were looking for Arabs and the second they saw we were Arabs their rabbi said a word and they jumped us.”
Agwa suffered a broken nose and severe lacerations to his face and neck. Another survivor is in the hospital with a severely injured shoulder from having a cement block thrown at him.
Eyewitnesses reported that the assailants used tasers on some of the victims.
Four Israelis were arrested Tuesday for questioning in relation to the attack, but were released later the same day. No one has been charged.
And earlier this week, in the illegal Israeli settlement of Beitar Illit east of Jerusalem, a Palestinian bus driver was assaulted by a gang of Orthodox youth, and badly beaten.
The Israeli anti-racism group Tag Meir told Haaretz, “Dozens of Arab drivers are attacked each year in violent racist assaults. Only a tiny number of these assaults are investigated by the police, and in most cases, the assailants run free.”
Such attacks against Palestinians by Israelis are common, and are rarely prosecuted. According to the Israeli paper Ha’aretz, the recent spate of attacks coincides with the Jewish holiday of Sukkot – the paper added that the number of attacks against Palestinians by Orthodox Israelis usually spikes during Jewish holy days.
In March, a similar attack occurred against a Palestinian bus driver in Jerusalem. The Israeli anti-racist group Tag Meir wrote that when bus driver George Natsii stopped his bus along the side of the road, “a group of youths started to call him ‘Arab, Arab’ and threw large stones at him. He was injured in the stomach and back, and even set upon by their dog who bit him on his scalp as he lay on the asphalt being kicked by this racist gang.”
No one was charged or arrested for that attack.
According to a report in al-Andalos paper, Jerusalem has become a hotbed for anti-Palestinian attacks by Jewish Israelis with the ongoing takeover of Palestinian land and homes by the Israeli government, military and civilians. The paper noted that “Israel, which has built 19 illegal settlements in East Jerusalem since 1968, placed more than 200,000 Jews in these places. As of today, there are 316,000 Palestinians living in the city, which has a population of 850,000. The remaining people are Jews. The Israeli authorities are expanding Jewish settlements and also prevent Arab population in the city from building new houses.”
These tensions hit a peak in 2014, when a gang of Jewish Israelis kidnapped, tortured and burned to death 15-year old Mohammad Abu Khdeir. Earlier this year, the family of Abu Khdeir filed a civil suit against his murderers for $1.5 million – “Not to make money, but so that these murderers will continue to be punished after they are released from prison”.
Earlier this year, the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) passed a law declaring that only Jews have the right of self-determination in Israel and downgrades Arabic from its status as an official state language. Palestinians in Israel and Jerusalem have lost many rights as a result, and many say it has given racists license to attack Palestinians and engage in many types of discrimination – from employment, to housing, to schooling to shopping.