Jerusalem municipal workers confiscated dozens of bread stalls belonging to Arab merchants near the Old City’s Jaffa Gate on Saturday.
According to Arieh King, a city councilman and head of the right-wing United Jerusalem party, the move had to do with the hametz, Hebrew for leavened products Jews traditionally forgo over Passover, being sold in public at the stalls on the holiday.
“We promised to deal with the Judaization of Jerusalem, and we are trying to meet our obligations to our voters,” he wrote in a Facebook statement.
However, a municipality official told Haaretz that the measures were unrelated to the bread products, but rather were due to a lack of licensing.
Other vendors complained against those who were operated unlawfully, and prior to the confiscation, the stalls had received ample warning and fines, the municipality maintained.
“The evacuation was done according to the procedure performed multiple times each year, after they [the vendors] remained in place despite warnings and fines. It should be noted that over 50 licensed sellers in the Old City in particular and East Jerusalem in general continued to operate freely,” a statement from the municipality said.
Under a 1986 law, no breads can publicly be sold during the week-long holiday of Passover. As of 2008, the law can no longer be enforced with regard to supermarkets or pizza shops, but rather exclusively open stalls. The restriction does not apply, however, to areas that have a non-Jewish majority, and Jaffa Gate, which straddles the Christian and Armenian quarters, would likely fall into that category.