Channel 12’s reporter Ohad Hemo presents a report from East Jerusalem and the Old City, including during Friday night’s violence, which he says adds up to “a call for a religious war.”
On the Temple Mount on Friday and last night, he shows crowds of thousands of Muslims on the Temple Mount shouting: “Qassam brigades, come on. Hit Tel Aviv!” and “We swear by Allah, we will protect the Al-Aqsa.”
One bearded East Jerusalem man in his 20s tells Hemo: “This will be a religious war. Not the kind of war the world is expecting…. You’re a Jew and I, a Muslim. We’ll go on fighting. There won’t be peace between us.”
At Damascus Gate last night, another young man tells him: “If they want clashes, we’re ready.”
Adds another: “We’re ready at any moment.”
Not long after, petrol bombs and stones began to fly at police in the area, he reports, and police fired stun grenades among other crowd dispersal means.
Hemo, now wearing a protective helmet, asks another man, “Is this a war for Jerusalem?” The man replies: “You’re the ones causing a war for Jerusalem. We came to pray.”
Adds a woman next to him: “This is our land. We came to pray.”
Another man joins in and, red-faced with the veins bulging in his neck, screams at Hemo: “This is Jerusalem. If a settler comes here, we’ll beat him up. We, the youth of Jerusalem, are declaring war. We are hereby declaring war. It doesn’t matter where the border is, we don’t want to see soldiers or anything else here. Al-Quds [Jerusalem] is only the Arabs’.”
Hemo notes the youngsters are no longer deterred from directly confronting the cops. “Why should I be afraid” of the cops, another interviewee says. The cops “are nothing to us.” Asked about the annual Jerusalem Day flag march scheduled to pass through the Old City tomorrow, this man vows: “In the name of Allah, no settler will pass through here.” Told tens of thousands are expected at the march, he says: “If only the ground would open and swallow them up, one after the other.”
The interviews are interspersed with footage of running street battles between police and young Palestinians, some of them masked, with glass smashing, small fires burning in the street, stun grenades and fireworks flying.
Hemo says many of those confronting the police are from northern Israel. One young man confirms this, telling Hemo he’s “from the North.”
“From Israel,” says Hemo.
“We’re Arabs from 1948,” he and his friends reply.
“That means Israeli Arabs?” persists Hemo.
“No, no, no. I’m Palestinian,” the young man insists.
“You’re Palestinian, not Israeli,” says Hemo. “But you’re from the State of Israel. From the north of the State of Israel.”
Says the young man: “That’s what you think.”
Hemo ascribes the surge in violence and hostility to many factors, but notes in particular the planned eviction of Arab families from Sheikh Jarrah and “the feeling of many here that Israel is doing everything it can to push them out.”
Ahmad, a resident of the Old City, says residents are repeatedly approached by men in business attire offering “open checks” to encourage them to sell up and fly overseas.