The Knesset's Internal Affairs and Environment Committee discussed the worrying situation at the Mount Scopus campus of Hebrew University, where students are exposed to daily harassment by local Arabs, who act with apparent impunity.
The discussion was convened at the request of MK Yariv Levin (Likud-Beytenu), and presided over by MK David Tzur (Hatnua), a former general in the ranks of the Israel Police.
MK Levin described a sad situation in which violence along the road that connects the perimeter road surrounding the university and the student dormitories. He said that female students are sexually harrassed on a daily basis and that rock and firebombing attacks, as well as attacks on vehicles, also occur daily.
MK Levin said that the attacks are “apparently” mounted by Arabs from the village of Isawiya, which he said has become “ex-territorial.” He declared: “It is time to put an end to this phenomenon. Security must be increased, we have to go into the village and restore order. If necessary, it might be a good idea to put a checkpoint at the entrance to the village and check those who go out.”
Amit Barak, Head of Policy Department at grassroots Zionist organization Im Tirtzu, said: “Sovereignty has disappeared from Mount Scopus! Female students have to be driven to the dorms, soldiers at the IDF base near the university are only allowed to move in convoys. The police are not to blame either because they are also crippled by a twisted political correctness that does not want to deal with the Arabs of Isawiya.”
Male and female students from the university gave first-hand accounts of the dismal situation. Neta Lee Kahana said that she has to put up with verbal sexual harassment every day, and that these attacks sometimes turn physical. After the recent snow, she said, Arabs threw a snow-coated rock at her. Another female student, Bar Shalev, said her female friends had been hit in the stomach and shoulder by rocks coated with snow. A third female student said that the rear window of her car had been smashed.
MK Issawi Frej (Meretz) said that his daughter studies at the university and is also sexually harrassed. Both Arab and Jewish female students suffer from harassment, he said, adding that “not everything that happens between Jews and Arabs has to be taken to dark places.” He said that blocking the entrance to the village is not a good solution, and recommended a beefed up security presence.
Hebrew University's security officer said that the problem was accurately described and that the university invests a lot of money in security guards and various technical means, but it cannot operate outside the campus.
Brig. Gen Amnon Alkalai, commander of the police's Zion Precinct, said that there had been 119 property crimes, 45 violence crimes and 19 sexual offenses at the location this year. He said that the police are aware of the situation and that they work vis-a-vis the village mukhtar and have 90 volunteers policing the area near the university and at French Hill.
MK Yifat Kariv (Yesh Atid) appeared to blame the students. “You students are studying how to change the world, and you can't even get by in your own neighborhood? This is an opportunity to look at the community and think, what can be achieved through dialogue,” she said.
MK Tzur called on the students to file police complaints so that the extent of the phenomenon can be better understood. He demanded that the police take responsibility and scheduled a follow-up meeting of the committee in three months' time.