Hundreds of Jews threw stones at cars in Jerusalem for several hours on Yom Kippur eve, and eyewitnesses reported that dozens of vehicles were damaged.

Some of the cars damaged Tuesday night belonged to Palestinians; others were vehicles belonging to hospitals in the city. The eyewitnesses claim that policemen who arrived on the scene did nothing to stop the rock-throwing.

Stone-throwing on Yom Kippur eve has been commonplace on Hebron Street, in the southern part of the city, for several years. The thoroughfare is used by many Palestinians, inter alia to travel from Jerusalem to Bethlehem.

This year, Rafael Lichman, an activist in the Yerushalmim ("Jerusalemites" ) movement, sent a letter to the Jerusalem Police before Yom Kippur informing them of the rock throwing that had marred the holiday in previous years and urging them to prevent it this year. "I hope that this appeal in writing will be taken more seriously than warnings relayed by phone in past years," he wrote.

Nevertheless, it appears the police did not respond forcefully to the rock throwing Tuesday night. After the end of prayer services, hundreds of people, mostly youths, gathered at the corner of Hebron and Bethlehem streets. "I left synagogue and went to that area at around 8:45 P.M., and the first car was damaged just a few minutes later," Lichman said.

He and other witnesses reported that dozens of cars were subsequently damaged. They said the crowd applauded each time a car was hit by a rock.

Another witness, Gideon Levy, 24, who lives in the area, said he counted 15 instances in which rocks damaged cars. "Each time a car passed by, even if it had a sticker saying 'in hospital service,' they tossed rocks at it," he said.