East Jerusalem Settlers Beef Up Security Fearing Palestinian Violence

Police warn of march on Jewish homes in East Jerusalem neighborhood; residents say they're prepared to shoot.

As Palestinians prepare to submit their UN statehood bid this month, Jews living in the Shimon Hatzadik neighborhood - located in the heart of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem - are preparing for potentially nightmarish scenarios.

Shimon Hatzadik's Jews have added 48 security cameras along the three streets they occupy, in addition to seven infrared lights for night vision. They also purchased a large dog, in addition to the one they acquired four months ago. The two dogs are standing guard at the Al-Ghawi home, which is at the heart of the dispute in this divided neighborhood.

Independence march - Tomer Appelbaum - July 14, 2011
Tomer Appelbaum

The commanders of the Shalem police station, charged with keeping order in the neighborhood, have held five meetings in recent weeks to discuss the local ramifications of the Palestinians' statehood bid, and how the Jewish neighborhood will fare in the event of the worst-case scenarios.

Nuri Hananiya, who represents the Tourism Ministry in the compound of the Shimon Hatzadik grave site, was asked by one person whether Jews in the area had somewhere to hide if hundreds of Arabs entered the compound.

This appears to be one of the primary scenarios preoccupying police, who are anticipating the possibility that 700 Muslims may march from the nearby mosque toward the homes of the Jewish residents.

"The minute they enter our homes, we will shoot at their legs, and if that doesn't work then we will not be afraid to shoot at the center of the group [of people]," said Yonatan Yosef, spokesman for the neighborhood, during a meeting at the Knesset on Wednesday.

"Most of the residents here have weapons," Yosef said. "According to the scenarios that the police gave us, 200 to 300 people could march from the mosque and be joined by 800 more. If they come to our houses, what will they do? They will try to enter."

"Enough that one madman with a knife comes in," Yosef said, referring to the massacre of the Fogel family, who was murdered by knife-wielding Palestinians in the West Bank settlement of Itamar in March. Warning that a similar incident could occur again, Yosef asked, "So, will we call the police? And what if they do not pick up?"