The government must stop funding zealotry in Jerusalem
The circumstances under which a private security guard fired at demonstrators in Silwan in East Jerusalem, killing a local man, could cause an irreversible religious conflict.
The circumstances under which a private security guard fired at demonstrators in Silwan in East Jerusalem, killing a local man, Samar Sirhan, still need to be clarified. The police are investigating the guard's version of events, that he had to fire at people throwing stones who were endangering his life. Presumably the police will also look into the rules of engagement the security company gives its guards, and whether it properly trains them to deal with such situations.
If it turns out that the guard or his superiors broke the law, they will obviously have to answer for it. However, that will not prevent the next incident between Jews and Palestinians in areas of friction in East Jerusalem. The handwriting of the next wave of riots is written in huge letters on the walls of the Old City and its environs.
Messianic right-wing groups have made it a goal to "Judaize" the Muslim and Christian quarters, as well as the village of Silwan at the foot of the Temple Mount. Under the guise of archaeological excavations and "restoring the glory of old," the Elad association has managed to penetrate large areas of the village, which contains the City of David. But Elad would not have managed to implement its plans without assistance from state bodies: the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, which turned over administration of the site to Elad, the Jerusalem Municipality, which offered help, and cooperation from the Israel Antiquities Authority.
The IAA wrote the attorney general a few years ago that the idea of placing the area "'for protection' in the hands of a private group, which has in its recent past more than a stain on its reputation when it comes to observing the law, is an infuriating idea."
The IAA noted that it is especially wrong to transfer an area in the historic City of David to the administration of a private body that is neither monitored nor controled by the government. After a wave of Palestinian riots that broke out following the takeover of real estate in Silwan by Elad, one of the group's directors, Adi Mintz, said its goal was "to take hold of outposts in East Jerusalem and create an irreversible situation in the holy basin around the Old City."
The government's support of a plan by unconstrained zealots places on its own doorstep responsibility for the next outbreak of violence - an irreversible religious conflict.