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J'lem Arabs Attack Visiting MKs

Two Jewish MKs who visited families in the Shimon Hatzaddik neighborhood of Jerusalem were attacked by an Arab mob.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 8/9/2009, 10:43 PM / Last Update: 8/10/2009, 7:08 AM

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Members of Knesset Yaakov “Ketzaleh” Katz and Uri Ariel, of the Ichud Leumi (National Union), were attacked by an angry Arab mob on Sunday. The attack took place in the Shimon HaTzaddik neighborhood of Jerusalem, and the attackers were Arab residents of the capital city.

Reporter interviews rioter

The Arab attackers were apparently angered by the sign of Jewish life in their neighborhood. Several shouted “Allah is great” and yelled anti-Jewish slogans at the MKs and their entourage.

Others threw rocks, hitting an Arutz Sheva reporter and causing property damage.

Police managed to quell the riot. Two people were arrested for attacking the MKs.

A similar attack took place on Saturday morning, when two Jewish men walking to prayers at the Tomb of Shimon HaTzaddik were stoned by local Arabs. One of the men required hospital care. Police arrested one suspect in the attack.

MKs Katz and Ariel were in the neighborhood to visit some of the many Israeli Jewish families engaged in reestablishing a Jewish community in the area. Shimon HaTzaddik (in Arabic, Sheikh Jarrah) is a historically Jewish neighborhood, and many of its buildings are owned by Jews. However, it was one of the Jerusalem neighborhoods occupied by Jordan from 1948 to 1967, when it was repopulated by Arab Muslim families.

Two local Muslim families were recently expelled from buildings in the neighborhood after the Supreme Court ruled that the buildings rightfully belonged to a group of Jews. Arab residents of the area, backed by the Palestinian Authority and the United Nations, accused Israel of taking the properties illegally.

Anti-Jewish graffiti in Shimon HaTzaddik neighborhood

The expulsion of the squatters was greeted by protests from the United States and several European countries as well. The U.S. and the EU have expressed support for the PA in claiming ownership of previously Jordanian-occupied neighborhoods of Jerusalem, despite the fact that the entire city has been under Israeli sovereignty for over 40 years.

Jewish worshippers at the Tomb of Shimon HaTzaddik expressed concern Sunday that local Arabs were growing more violent due to perceived international support for their cause. Foreign leftists and senior members of the PA have taken up the cause of the Arab families expelled from Jewish-owned properties, and have been inciting to violence against local Jews, they reported.

Swastika on wall near Jewish residence

However, Jewish residents of the neighborhood said they were not concerned. A spokesman explained that the “spontaneous riots” against Jews in the area were actually all organized and led by the same three activists. “We are not afraid,” he said simply.