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Was Gas Attack Averted in French Hill?

Residents of Jerusalem neighborhood complain of constant harassment and terror from a nearby Arab neighborhood.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 12/7/2010, 2:55 AM / Last Update: 12/7/2010, 2:50 AM

Flash 90

Several days ago, residents of Jerusalem’s French Hill neighborhood felt a strong odor of gas throughout the neighborhood. Upon inspection they discovered that Arab residents of the nearby Isawiya neighborhood cut their gas pipes, which caused the strong smell. The residents of French Hill are now convinced that the Arabs planned a major terror attack which was averted only by a miracle.

On Monday, Arutz Sheva’s daily journal spoke with French Hill resident Shosh Shochat, who represents the neighborhood during meetings with the authorities. According to Shochat, “We sat in our house on Motzei Shabbat when we suddenly we smelled gas and heard the sound of a pipe exploding. We went outside and found more neighbors who smelled the same thing. It turned out that someone cut the pipes. We tried closing the gas taps but they were rotten and wouldn’t close.”

Shochat pointed out that Jerusalem Police and firefighters were quick to arrive on the scene, but gas company employees did not arrive until three days later. She added that an investigation the same evening found that 250 families had their pipes cut.

According to Shochat, this is not just vandalism but another incident in a series of incidents of terrorism which originate in the nearby Isawiya neighborhood.

“They set fire to natural growth,” said Shochat. “Throughout the summer there were fires here, some of them posing a risk to homes. They break windows, damage public gardens, harass, steal from yards and roam around freely.”

She added that now, residents do not allow Jewish boys and girls to walk freely around the neighborhood in the evening for fear of attacks. “They come at night, do what they do, and immediately go the paths to Isawiya.”

Just two months ago, a Jewish resident of Jerusalem was attacked in Isawiya. Baruch Pruss, who works as a repairman, was viciously attacked in the neighborhood by Arabs who threw concrete blocks and huge stones towards him. He only managed to escape the attack thanks to help from older Arabs living in the area who helped him leave.

“If they’ve decided to abandon us and return us to the Palestinian Authority, then [Jerusalem Mayor] Nir Barkat should get up and say it openly: ‘We've decided to give you to Abbas’. Then we’ll confront him,” said Shochat.

She described an intolerable reality in which people who recognize a thief or a burglar prefer not to confront him for fear of violence, and give up on contacting the authorities since they are “tired of bureaucracy,” as she put it.

“We have become a place of terror,” said Shochat and wondered if she as a Jew would be allowed to wander freely in the streets of Isawiya.