Two Arab sanitation workers from East Jerusalem were attacked this week in the Givat Shaul neighborhood of Jerusalem. Police believe there was a nationalist attacks context, as such attacks are not unusual in the streets near where the two were attacked.
During the past two months, within a radius of three blocks there have been no less than 12 cases of malicious damage to vehicles, all of them belonging to residents of East Jerusalem who work nearby. Similar slogans were sprayed and stars of David were scratched on most of the cars.
However, only in two cases were complaints filed with the police. According to the Jerusalem Police, the assumption is that these acts were committed in a nationalist context but at the moment there is no indication that a single cell has been involved and in the meantime all directions of investigation are being pursued. Many of the vandalized cars belong to Arab employees of Angel Bakery, who park their cars nearby. According to Hanan Schlein, spokesman of the National Workers Federation [Histadrut Ha'ovdim Haleumit], which represents the Angel workers, "We learned of this phenomenon of damage to vehicles in the Givat Shaul area only at the beginning of this week and we have instructed the workers to submit complaints to the police immediately."
The attack on the Jerusalem municipality sanitation workers at the beginning of the week indicates escalation in attacks in nationalist context in Givat Shaul. The two are Nafez Muhammad Ali, 31, a resident of the Shuafat Refugee Camp, and Ihab Abbasi, 26, from the village of Silwan, who work as street cleaners.
On Sunday at approximately 10:30 A.M., as the two sat down for a break to eat something, four young Jews snuck up on them , according to Ali and Abbasi, who were wearing large skullcaps and had dangling sidelocks. The young men, without saying anything, sprayed the two municipal workers with tear gas. Ali managed to recover first and to stand up and fled into a nearby delicatessen. His colleague, however, did not manage to flee. The attackers pulled him by the shirt, dragged him along the sidewalk and continued to spray tear gas at his eyes for nearly 40 seconds. He says that throughout the attackers did not say a word. Then the attackers fled but because of the large amount of the substance that had been sprayed into his face Abbasi did not manage to see which way they ran. "When I came back to him he was half dead. He couldn't breathe," says Ali, describing the moments of terror. He called an ambulance, which took him and Abbasi to Shaare Zedek Medical Center.
The police are searching for the attackers but as yet no suspects have been detained.
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