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Tel Aviv schools cancel Jerusalem trip for fear of riots

Municipality cites security concerns in decision to postpone bar mitzvah event in capital’s Old City

Masked Palestinian protesters throw stones towards Israeli police during clashes in the Shuafat neighborhood in East Jerusalem. July 3, 2014. (photo credit: Sliman Khader/FLASH90)
Masked Palestinian protesters throw stones towards Israeli police during clashes in the Shuafat neighborhood in East Jerusalem. July 3, 2014. (photo credit: Sliman Khader/FLASH90)

The Tel Aviv Municipality instructed all schools under the city’s jurisdiction to cancel several scheduled field trips to Jerusalem, citing security concerns stemming from frequent riots which have been raging across the capital’s eastern neighborhoods for months.

Over the next week, seventh and eighth graders in Tel Aviv schools were set to travel to the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City for an event to mark the students’ bar mitzvahs. However, following a deadly attack carried out by a Palestinian man at a Jerusalem Light Rail station on Wednesday, the Tel Aviv Municipality’s educational board decided to postpone the event until further notice, Channel 10 reported on Saturday.

“Due to the security situation in Jerusalem, we received notice from the Municipality of Tel Aviv, the initiator and organizer of the tours, to cancel the trip scheduled for Tuesday,” a statement sent to parents of seventh graders in one of Tel Aviv’s schools read. “We have not yet been informed if there will be a trip later in the year when things calm down.”

The municipality, for its part, stated that not all trips to Jerusalem will be canceled, but only tours in the city’s eastern neighborhoods. “This is a specific trip for eighth graders scheduled for the coming week which includes tours of some of the places where violence has recently erupted,” a municipality notice read, according to Channel 10 News.

Israeli security officers run past burning tires during clashes with Palestinian protesters in the Issawiya neighborhood, in East Jerusalem on October 24, 2014. (Photo credit: AFP/ AHMAD GHARABLI)
Israeli security officers run past burning tires during clashes with Palestinian protesters in the Issawiya neighborhood, in East Jerusalem on October 24, 2014. (Photo credit: AFP/ AHMAD GHARABLI)

“And so, at the parents’ request, it was decided to postpone [the trip] to a later date.”

Tensions in Jerusalem have been high since June, when three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and killed by Palestinian terrorists in the West Bank. Jewish extremists retaliated by kidnapping and killing a Palestinian teenager in east Jerusalem, sparking riots. The kidnappings set off a series of events that led to the 50-day Gaza war.

On Thursday, riots flared up across the capital in the wake of a Wednesday terrorist attack in which Abdel Rahman al-Shaludi ran over pedestrians at a Jerusalem light rail station, killing three-month-old Chaya Zissel Braun and injuring eight others. Al-Shaludi was shot be security forces immediately following the attack and died of his wounds a short while later.

On Saturday, protesters in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, al-Shaludi’s neighborhood, hurled stones and firecrackers at a municipal tractor sent in to clear the roads of stones thrown at police a day earlier. Security forces used riot dispersal means to clear the small-scale riot.

Jerusalem’s mayor has called for a crackdown against the wave of Palestinian unrest. In a Thursday interview, Mayor Nir Barkat said the violence, which had erupted sporadically over the past months, had become intolerable, and he vowed to restore order.

Itamar Sharon and Adiv Sterman contributed to this report.

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