Jewish extremists violently attack Arab car amid riots over settler’s death

Mob hurls rocks and other objects in Jerusalem ambush; police cars and infrastructure also damaged in latest night of far-right unrest over death of Ahuvia Sandak

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Demonstrators attack an Arab car in Jerusalem during a protest in the early hours of January 1, 2021. (Screenshot: Twitter)
Demonstrators attack an Arab car in Jerusalem during a protest in the early hours of January 1, 2021. (Screenshot: Twitter)

Following overnight protests in Jerusalem over the death of 16-year-old hilltop youth Ahuvia Sandak, who was killed in a car crash during a police chase after allegedly hurling stones at Palestinians last month, footage emerged Friday morning of an extremist mob throwing rocks and other objects towards a vehicle driven by Arabs in the city, as well as attempting to open the car’s door to attack the occupants.

The racist attack occurred around 3 a.m., a number of hours after the initial protest was dispersed by police. The renewed protest also included ultra-Orthodox youths protesting the expansion of the Jerusalem light rail, according to Channel 12 news.

At least 10 vehicles were reportedly damaged by demonstrators rock-throwing throughout the night of chaos, mostly directed at Arab drivers. Additionally, four police vehicles were attacked and damaged by demonstrators.

“Hundreds of protesters blocked the main entrance to the city, hurled stones and eggs at forces, later repeating these acts at other junctions,” the police said in a statement Friday morning.

An eyewitness to the attack near Bar Ilan junction in the city told the Haaretz newspaper the demonstrators checked the identity of the occupants of each car that drove through the area, confronting those they thought were Arab.

Police say they detained some 20 demonstrators for “disorderly conduct, causing damage to infrastructure, and obstruction of transport routes.”

Sandak’s death has ignited nine days of near-nightly protest in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Demonstrators have thrown stones, attacked buses and blocked major thoroughfares. In turn, police have responded forcefully, with a video showing a cop shoving a protester into the street, with the young man nearly being hit by a moving vehicle.

As of Friday morning, some 295 arrests had taken place at the demonstrations, according to statements released by police. No clear number has been given for people charged with violence at the rallies.

Ahuvia Sandak, who was killed when his car flipped over while being chased by police in the West Bank on December 21, 2020. (Courtesy)

The vehicle carrying Sandak and four more so-called hilltop youth extremists flipped over near the Michmash Junction in the West Bank last week, killing him and injuring the others. The suspected stone-throwers were apprehended and taken to Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus in Jerusalem with light to moderate injuries. Sandak was from the southern West Bank settlement of Bat Ayin.

A court on Friday released to house arrest the last of the four passengers, initially suspected of manslaughter in the incident, the Kan public broadcaster reported, as the Justice Ministry’s Police Internal Investigations Department also questioned the officers involved in the incident over their conduct.

The deadly car crash had come hours after an Israeli woman, Esther Horgen, was found dead in a northern West Bank forest where she had gone for a run a day earlier, apparently after she was killed violently.

Horgen’s murder sparked several days of tension in the West Bank. Military sources told the Walla news site that they feared Horgen’s death could spark a series of revenge attacks by the settler youth on Palestinians and further inflame the already tense situation in the West Bank.

The Israeli security services reported 13 incidents of stone-throwing by settlers against Palestinians in the days immediately following Horgen’s murder. The Yesh Din rights group has claimed an additional seven stone-throwing attacks by settlers during the past week.

A security source told reporters anonymously on Wednesday that the police were “losing control” of the situation, even as “violence [by settlers] against Palestinians and security forces has reached new heights.”

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