Extreme rightists attack Palestinians in Jerusalem as teens laid to rest
Rioters injure five Palestinians, disrupt public transportation, even burst into McDonald's looking for Arabs as undercover police, security guards protect potential victims.
Several hundred right-wing extremists in Jerusalem started demonstrating, some of them attacking Arab passers-by, as the families of the three murdered teenagers were burying their sons in Modi'in.
Five Palestinians were attacked, and two of them needed medical treatment. The extremists were engaged in violent confrontations with police in the capital's center for several hours.
The police arrested 50 people suspected of involvement in the incidents. Public transportation in the center of town was disrupted for hours, and hundreds of youths ran through the downtown city streets yelling racist slogans and calling for revenge against Arabs.
The incidents began with a demonstration that right-wing extremists, headed by former MK Michael Ben Ari and Itamar Ben Gvir, organized under the Chords Bridge by the city's western entrance. Demonstrators shouted slogans like "we want revenge" and "enough of the murderous government."
About 400 demonstrators attended and managed to block the road under the bridge for an extended period. The police evacuated them from the spot, and they proceeded along Jaffa Road with the declared goal of reaching the Old City in order to attack Arabs.
Police officers blocked their path to Zahal Square, located between City Hall and Jaffa Gate. The demonstrators dispersed into smaller groups that began running into the center of town looking for Arabs. The groups, some made up of pro-settler "hilltop youth," many ultra-Orthodox Jews and right-wing activists, shouted slogans such as "death to Arabs," "a Jew is a brother, an Arab is a bastard," "we want war," "Mohammed is dead," and "Kahane was right."
While running, some of them were asking dark-skinned people "what's the time?" in Hebrew in order to check for an Arab accent in the reply.
Others rushed into businesses or shouted at tourists and other spectators to stop watching the World Cup and join them. In two instances, they burst into McDonald's because they heard that Arabs were employed at the restaurant, from where they were forced out by policemen and employees. In one of the incidents, police arrested a masked rioter tried to attack an Arab worker.
In a more serious case, a group of a hundred demonstrators identified three Palestinian workers in a downtown parking lot. The three were having their evening meal to end their daily Ramadan fast, when the mob attacked them. One of the Palestinians chased away some of the attackers with a club and then one of the mob members used pepper spray on the Palestinians. Others started to throw stones at them.
One of the workers suffered a head injury and was evacuated for medical treatment.
"I was in the middle of a Ramadan meal. Someone passed by and noticed I am an Arab," said Mohammed Sayyad of A-Tor. "He called out to everyone else, saying 'Here's an Arab, here's an Arab.' They started throwing stones and spraying gas, and cursing, 'Tomorrow we're going to kill you.'"
Undercover police who were there quickly intervened, moved the attackers back and arrested three of them.
According to Sayyad, the police also threatened to arrest him. "Can I beat up 500 people? What can I do, besides throwing stones back?" he said. "It's the third time they have attacked me, but it was never as big as this." Two years ago, it was Sayyad who called the police after Jewish youths in 2012 lynched Jamal Julani, 17, who was seriously wounded.
It took the police hours to restore scheduled service to the light rail because of the demonstrators. When the trains stopped at individual stations, the rioters got on board and looked for Arab passengers. Light rail security guards stood next to Palestinian passengers to protect them from the mob.