Israeli ex-officials pelted by stones in East Jerusalem

A bus carrying three former ministers and a Nobel Prize laureate was attacked on the Mount of Olives, with no injuries

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

A Palestinian youth prepares to throw a stone at Israeli policemen near Jerusalem's Lion Gate, October 2009 (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash90)
A Palestinian youth prepares to throw a stone at Israeli policemen near Jerusalem's Lion Gate, October 2009 (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

A bus carrying high-ranking former Israeli officials to an award ceremony in East Jerusalem was targeted by a stone-thrower on Thursday evening. There were no injuries or damage reported.

The bus was pelted with stones twice in the Palestinian neighborhood of A-Tur on the Mount of Olives, first on its way to and again on its way back from a reception honoring the recipients of the Moskowitz Prize for Zionism, an award established by American Jewish philanthropists Irving and Cherna Moskowitz “as an expression of support for people who put Zionism into action in today’s Israeli society.”

The bus was carrying members of the prize committee, including former defense minister Moshe Arens, former minister of internal security Avigdor Kahalani, former finance minister Yigal Cohen-Orgad and Nobel Prize laureate Yisrael (Robert) Aumann, as well as Cherna Moskowitz.

“There was a slight feeling of alarm, but no panic,” Adi Arbel of the right-leaning think tank The Institute for Zionist Strategies told The Times of Israel. He noted that the stones were thrown from a distance of no more than 2 meters (7 feet) from the bus, by a young man, and that they did not gain enough momentum to shatter the windows they hit.

“If the stones were dropped from one of the nearby rooftops, the damage would have likely been higher,” Arbel said.

The incident comes as part of a tangible resurgence in violent attacks against Israelis across the West Bank in recent weeks. Three-year-old Adele Biton remains in critical condition after stones were thrown at her mother’s car near the settlement of Ariel in March, causing a major accident. On April 30, Evyatar Borowsky, a 32-year-old father of five, was stabbed to death at the Tapuah junction near Nablus.

Jewish Home party chief Naftali Bennett acknowledged the heightened sense of insecurity across the West Bank in a Facebook message posted Thursday:

“Recently the security situation on the roads has deteriorated,” Bennett wrote. “I have held talks with the defense minister, the chief of staff and the head of Central Command in recent days in order to increase the level of security in dangerous areas … rules of engagement should be reexamined, troops should be sent there, offensive activity should be increased. Stone-throwing should be treated as a life threatening act.”

Arbel said he was surprised that no one on the street tried to stop the stone-thrower, described as approximately 18 years old, or reprimand him for the attack. The perpetrator was likely unaware of the identity of the people on the bus, he added.  

“It happened in broad daylight and he didn’t even run away. It was as though this was the most casual thing in the world.”

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