Already last week, radical right-wing groups announced that they planned to gather on Sunday at a spot along the Haas Promenade in Jerusalem and march to the Jabal Mukkaber neighborhood. They were bent on destroying the home of the man responsible for the terrorist attack at Mercaz Harav Yeshiva, and the place and time were printed on announcements pasted up all over the city.
In view of this, the unbearable ease with which the rioters outwitted the police and carried out a pogrom at the site cannot be allowed to pass without the district police chiefs being called to account. The police commanders' statements that they "were surprised by the level of violence" already go beyond false naivete. Even former Jerusalem police chief Mickey Levy, who usually defends his colleagues, said yesterday that "the district police had no cause to be surprised."
We are not talking about a mere handful of individuals who managed to get through police barriers, but a frenzied crowd of dozens of violent people, who in a simple outflanking move entered the neighborhood, threw stones and broke the windows of houses and cars for some time, unmolested. An organized and synchronized pogrom of this kind could never take place in a Jewish neighborhood.
While Israel and the Jewish world raise a huge cry over every suspicion of an attack on Jews because of their ethnicity, it is intolerable that residents of the capital are attacked solely because of their nationality. The ease with which the police allowed the pogrom also refutes any claim about the equal rights that East Jerusalem residents enjoy. One must not, of course, ignore the outright incitement in the announcements praising the murderer that were pasted up in the neighborhood, but this has absolutely nothing to do with the carnival of rampage.
A straight line connects the fecklessness displayed by the Jerusalem police in Jabal Mukkaber with the police's bungled handling of the terror attack at Mercaz Harav. Jerusalem District police chief Aharon Franco has yet to provide a satisfying explanation as to why police officers stood outside the yeshiva for a good few minutes while the terrorist continued to murder.
The continued inactivity in the face of acts of incitement and violence by the extreme right is shared by all the law-enforcement authorities - the police, Shin Bet, State Prosecutor's Office, and the courts. The pogrom's organizers were not afraid to identify themselves and their organizations by name, and enough legal measures exist that could have prevented an event that from the outset had been designated an illegal demonstration. The arrested rioters should now be brought to justice and punished with all due severity, just as Arab rioters would be.
That the riot in Jabal Mukkaber ended only in property damage, with the exception of two lightly injured police officers, cannot be credited to the police, but to the fact that most of the villagers opted to stay in their homes. Otherwise, the results might have been much worse and sparked a long chain of violent acts. Had there been any Jewish casualties, a committee of inquiry would certainly have been established to examine the circumstances. But even without a committee, the conclusion to be drawn from the events is clear: Remove Major General Franco from his post.
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