More than 360 violent assaults against Jews living in East Jerusalem, including the capital’s Old City, were recorded in July, nearly double the number of similar attacks that took place during the same period in 2013, according to figures published Monday.
Most incidents involve youths hurling stones and Molotov cocktails at Jewish civilians living in predominantly Palestinian neighborhoods, or rioters setting off firecrackers near Jewish institutions. In some cases, however, masked gunmen opened fire at Jews residing in the eastern half of the city, the Haaretz daily reported. Last Monday, an IDF soldier was shot at close range by a gunman on a motorbike near the neighborhood of Wadi al-Joz.
Many of the clashes involved confrontations with police during protests in the city. Police and Housing Ministry figures show that 72 violent incidents took place on the last night of Ramadan alone, compared to an average of five or six such cases a month over the rest of the year. On a different night, violent clashes took place in no fewer than 30 different locations simultaneously, according to Haaretz.
According to the police, violent clashes in Jerusalem spiked after the brutal murder of Jerusalem teen Muhammed Abu Khdeir, a crime laid at the doorstep of Jewish extremists, and coincided with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the IDF’s ongoing operation in the Gaza Strip. Abu Khdeir, 16, a resident of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat, was slain in an suspected revenge attack for the killing of three Israeli teens on June 12. His death sparked riots among Israel’s Arab population throughout the country and in Jerusalem, and drew fierce domestic and international condemnation.
Despite the rise in violence, police said that most clashes between its forces and protesters did not result in severe injuries or deaths on either side.
The violence had prompted police to bolster its presence and to heighten security measures all throughout the city, according to Haaretz. Following recurrent cases of Palestinian stone throwing at the Jerusalem light rail, the municipality equipped the tram with a small flying robot that filmed its vicinity and broadcast the footage to a control center. Service was stopped to the Arab neighborhoods of Shuafat and Beit Hanina during rioting that followed Abu Khdeir’s murder which damaged train tracks and stops, but resumed two weeks later.
Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, for their part, spoke to The Times of Israel of a heightened sense of hostility in the city. Arab cab drivers told of Jews stepping out of the vehicle when learning they were Arab, or encouraging others not to travel with them. Other told of right-wing activists singling out Arabs downtown and verbally harassing them.