Jewish Residents of East Jerusalem Say They Fear Palestinian Onslaught

In recent weeks the commanders of the Shalem police station, in East Jerusalem, have been holding meetings on the implications for the neighborhood of what has become known as the "September events."

Residents of Shimon Hatzadik, the Jewish enclave in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem, say they are ready to shoot at Palestinians if they try to overrun the compound in the wake of the Palestinian bid for statehood.

Also since last week, two large guard dogs have been purchased for the El Ghawi house, where Jewish residents now live. The house is at the heart of the Jewish-Arab conflict in Sheikh Jarrah.

Sheikh Jarrah protest
Michal Fattal

In recent weeks the commanders of the Shalem police station, under whose aegis Sheikh Jarrah falls, have been holding meetings on the implications for the neighborhood of what has become known as the "September events."

About two weeks ago, the deputy commander of the station, Superintendent Arik Yadid, asked Nuri Hananya, the Tourism Ministry's representative for the tomb of Shimon Hatzadik (Simon the Just ): "If hundreds of Arabs enter the tomb complex, even with cold weapons, do you have a place you can barricade yourselves?"

As the inhabitants of the Shimon Hatzadik compound see it, it is critical to prepare for such a scenario: a procession of a few hundred Muslims from the nearby mosque making their way toward the Jewish homes.

And they are ready, they say. "The moment they come into our house, we will invoke the Dromi law," said neighborhood spokesman Yehonatan Yosef two weeks ago in the Knesset. Yosef was referring to a law passed in 2008 that allows more freedom to use lethal force against intruders. It followed the conviction of Negev farmer Shai Dromi (initially for manslaughter ) after he shot and killed an intruder on his farm.

"We are talking about shooting at their legs and if that doesn't work, and our lives are in danger, we won't be afraid to shoot straight at them. Most of the residents here are armed," Yosef said

Yosef told the MKs that the police had described a scenario to neighborhood residents in which 200 to 300 people would head for their homes from the mosque, joined by another 800 as they marched.

"They'll try to get in. Enough that there's one crazy man with a knife, and the Fogel story will repeat itself," Yosef said, referring to the murder by Palestinian terrorists of parents and three children in the settlement of Itamar last year.

Yosef said the police had told the residents it would take 10 minutes for a patrol car to come. "Do you know what can happen in that time?" Yosef said.

The Jerusalem police held a simulation about a month ago of a suicide bomb attack in the Shimon Hatzadik compound, where almost 1,000 worshippers gather daily.

Jews living in the area used the exercise to attract the attention of the residents of the nearby ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods, including Shmuel Hanavi. Events in the Shimon Hatzadik neighborhood have also been the recent focus in the ultra-Orthodox press, Yosef said.

"Do you think that if hundreds of Arabs start marching toward us, we'd have a problem calling on people from Shmuel Hanavi? In a second we'd have a thousand people."

Senior police officials responded in a statement: "The police will not allow any activity that is not in a police framework and will use decisive means against anyone who takes the law into their own hands."

With regard to preparations for police deployment this month, the statement said they were "ready for any scenario."