Police: We were surprised by intensity of rightists' riots
Despite extreme right-wing activists' repeated threats to avenge Jerusalem terror attack, destroy terrorist's home in Arab neighborhood, senior police officials admit 'protestors' determination and use of stones and firecrackers' surprised them
"We were surprised by the intensity of the riots," a senior police official admitted.
The Jerusalem District Police held a special evaluation of the situation following the clashes, which left two police officers lightly injured and 22 rioters arrested.
A senior police official told Ynet,"There was marked violence towards police personnel and local residents, and protestors stormed their way into the village using stones, fire crackers and anything else they could get their hands on."
Large police forces were deployed at Jerusalem's Armon Hanatziv promenade in a bid to block the protestors and prevent them from reaching the Arab neighborhood.
Last week, right-wing activists attempted to dismantle the mourning tent set up by the family of Alaa Abu Dheim, the terrorist who carried out the attack at the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem. In that incident the activists did use violence and surrendered to the police almost immediately.
This time, the riots were led by extreme right-wing groups including Nadia Matar's Women in Green, Itamar Ben Gvir and Baruch Marzel's National Jewish Front, and the Jewish Heart organization.
'We outflanked police and descended to the village'
According to the demonstration organizers, some 200 right-wing activists gathered at the Armon Hanatziv promenade, located above the Jabel Mukaber neighborhood in the afternoon hours, where they were faced by about 100 police officers.
The rightists, who were unimpressed by the police forces' presence, turned to a banquet hall opposite the hill and outflanked the police forces from the left, arriving at the neighborhood's first houses within minutes.
Demonstrating at Jerusalem promenade (Photo: AP)
According to the protestors, the police paid attention to what was happening only after a few minutes, and forces were sent to chase the activists.
"We descended to the village from around the UN building and threw stones at the homes of the Arabs, who shouted at us. Some tried to hurl stones, but most of them stayed at home," one of the organizers told Ynet.
Shortly afterwards, violent clashes erupted between the police and the rioters. When the activists began hurling stones at the neighborhood's homes, police forces began separating between the houses and the demonstrators. The rightists claimed that the police officers used excessive force.
"The Arabs of Israel and Jerusalem must understand that the Jews have stopped being suckers. If they identify with Hamas and Hizbullah, they will pay a price for it," one of the right-wing activists said.
According to Baruch Marzel, "What happened was unexpected. There is a limit to our tolerance and restraint. The police must know that there is a price for the fact that they are not demolishing the terrorist's house. Apparently other people have to complete the job for this to happen."
Itamar Ben-Gvir told Ynet, "This is only the beginning. This is the opening shot for a much more complicated struggle against our enemies. We are fed up with the fact that Jewish blood is abandoned and that the prime minister doesn’t care. The rage is erupting and leads to the incidents and anger we saw at the village."
Rabbi Elyakim Levanon of the Elon Moreh yeshiva said, "We are not here to fight the police, but rather to demand that the enemies be dealt with."
Neta Sela contributed to this report