Arabs in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat complained Thursday that they were experiencing a plague of wild dogs roaming the area, but a spokesperson for the municipality said that catching the dogs was complicated – because of the threat to the physical security of dog catchers who would normally be sent in to catch the animals.
At least 150 wild dogs, many running in feral packs, have for months been roaming the streets of the Ras Hamis neighborhood, at the edge of Shuafat, itself a village within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem.
The city has a full staff of dog catchers, but because of security concerns, a municipal spokesperson told reporters, they could only be sent in to do their jobs with an IDF or police crew to protect them, because of the strong likelihood that they will be pelted with stones or beaten with metal pipes – or worse – as has occurred on numerous occasions in the past.
As a result, residents of the neighborhood say they have taken to arming themselves with bricks and pipes to fight off the dog menace. The dogs, say the residents, are particularly vicious, and have chased and attacked many people, especially the elderly and children, who have a hard time outrunning them.
Attorney Nasrian Alian from the Israel Civil Rights Association said that the problem was present in all Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem. “In 2010 over 1,000 dogs were caught in Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem. The city's Veterinary Service does not provide sufficient services for the neighborhood and does not even operate in some of them – and they fail to do the job properly in areas where they do operate,” she told reporters.
In response, the municipality said that the IDF no longer permits municipal workers to enter some Arab neighborhoods without a security detail to protect them. Shuafat is one of those neighborhoods, the city said.
Attacks on Israeli workers in Jerusalem Arab neighborhoods are not uncommon, and numerous workers have been badly injured when Arabs converged on them as they tried to undertake maintenance work in Arab areas.
In 2008, for example, two city workers were attacked as they were driving on Salah A-Din Street, a main road in eastern Jerusalem, when they realized the road was blocked by flaming dumpsters. They were forced to stop, and their vehicle was then attacked by dozens of Arab men, who hurled rocks through the windows and hit the sides of the car with metal rods. The two managed to escape after driving onto the sidewalk.
In another incident, a municipal sanitation worker lost an arm earlier this year when a bomb placed in a dumpster exploded. Five residents of a Jerusalem Arab neighborhood were arrested in that attack, which they told interrogators had been directly specifically against Jerusalem municipal workers.