An Arab shop owner in Jerusalem’s Old City was reportedly injured Wednesday night, the eve of the Simchat Torah holiday, when a group of Israeli Jews attacked him in the Muslim Quarter.
Police said clashes “between young people” broke out in the area, without identifying any of the parties, and added that rioters caused damage “to a store, a scooter and a car parked nearby.”
Eyewitnesses said a large group of young Jewish men returned from the Western Wall around midnight, and, near the Damascus Gate, the main entrance to the Muslim Quarter, began to hammer on the doors of houses and shops and smashed the windows of several cars.
The shop owner, Ibrahim Hashelmon, 39, said several of the men attacked him and caused severe damage to his store. He alleged in interviews with Israeli media that the men threw objects at him, including a fire extinguisher and an ice cream freezer, causing him to black out. They also caused severe damage to his store, he said.
Hashelmon was hospitalized for several hours in order to rule out a concussion.
At one point, a group of police officers arrived at the scene and accompanied the Jewish rioters outside the Old City, but did not make any arrests, Haaretz reported.
“I heard shouting and banging on doors, but we are used to it because it happens every time the Jews have a holiday,” Louie Zorba, a local resident, told the paper. “They broke the windows and mirrors of my car. There were more than 400 people there, and only 20 cops showed up.
“I told the police that if it were Palestinians rioting, they would have deployed more people and fired tear gas and stun grenades. But all they did was take them outside [the Old City],” he said.
Police said they were investigating the incident.
An unconfirmed Channel 1 report said the rioters were followers of Rabbi Eliezer Berland, an ostracized leader in the Bratslav Hasidic sect who was convicted last year of sexual assault.