Deputy Mayor: Large riots in eastern Jerusalem 'something we've never faced'

Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Aryeh King, in an exclusive interview with Arutz Sheva, gives his view on the riots taking place by Arabs in eastern Jerusalem and what will happen in coming days.

Yoni Kempinski ,

Aryeh King
Aryeh King
Arutz Sheva

In the wake of violent riots by Palestinian Arabs in eastern Jerusalem, Arutz Sheva interviewed Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Aryeh King to get a sense of how Israeli police are dealing with record large crowds of protestors in a very volatile situation.

King, who has personally gone to the areas in question to see firsthand what is taking place, said that the situation on the ground is very dangerous. He noted that while there have been similar violent protests during past Ramadan periods, the current disturbances are “one of the worst ones” he has seen.

The difference: This year the crowds are much larger, the number of people showing up for demonstrations are greater in number and instead of lone wolf terrorist attacks, “terrorist attacks are being done by mobs.”

“It’s tens or hundreds attacking a single car or a single Jew,” he said. “This is something we’ve never faced (before).”

He mentions an incident where a Jew was attacked and only saved by several Arabs who happened to be nearby and saw what was going on. He said that not all Arabs support the violence occurring and many want their neighborhoods to return to normalcy as soon as possible just like Jews do.

Arab residents of eastern Jerusalem have contacted him directly to tell him that something needs to be done, he said. It’s harming the local economy, he was told by two Arab shop owners. Jews, Arabs and tourists all shop there.

After a year of the pandemic, the struggling shops were looking forward to the uptick in business they expected during Ramadan. Instead, “no one is buying.”

“People are running away,” said King.

King stressed that the current situation is very grave.

“Every Jew needs to feel safe to walk there, to drive his car,” he said. “People need to understand. This is the main road to the Kotel. This is the main road to the Mount of Olives. We cannot accept that this main road will be blocked by this mob.”

King explained that one of the problems encouraging the violence to continue is that many of those arrested are quickly released by the legal system. He called it “unbelievable.”

He noted that the courts are too lenient in deciding to release those charged with violent attacks or terrorism. Police officers have confided to him that they know beforehand that certain courts or judges will immediately release people they have arrested for violent incidents.

“It’s reducing the motivation of the police,” he said. “(They think) why should we risk our lives to arrest someone knowing that our court is going to release them at (the first hearing).”

King was confident that no matter how bad it seems, the situation will be brought under control by the police in the next few days. He said that he has full confidence in Jerusalem Police Chief Doron Turgeman, who he knows personally.

“(Police Chief Turgeman) is the man that we need and thank G-d we have him right now and I’m sure we will make the change in a day or two,” said King.