Arab rioter with Hamas headband in Shuafat
Arab rioter with Hamas headband in ShuafatHadas Parush/Flash 90

Israeli media has largely ignored covering how Arab assailants just before Passover on April 20 threw firebombs at Jerusalem's northeast Pisgat Ze'ev neighborhood, causing a massive brush fire that approached the homes of residents.

A number of new buildings were evacuated and firefighters were forced to battle the blaze, eventually managing to control it. But despite the danger to life and property, the incident did not receive commensurate coverage in the media.

Arutz Sheva on Sunday spoke with Deputy Jerusalem Mayor Yael Antebi, the representative of Pisgat Ze'ev in the Jerusalem Municipality. According to Antebi, the incident is only the latest result of a policy by which the Israeli government is in practice dividing the capital in two.

She reported that the horrifying phenomenon of firebomb attacks has turned into a quiet matter of routine in Pisgat Ze'ev, a routine that is not receiving an appropriate response in order to prevent it.

"Recently it has become routine. They (Arabs) throw firebombs. They climb up on the separation fence, a fence that is not effective, cross over it freely and throw firebombs, causing fires in the area between Pisgat Ze'ev and Shuafat, and present a serious danger," said Antebi.

She spoke about previous incidents before the recent Passover holiday that ended last Friday, in which residents were nearly evacuated from their homes, but the media did not see fit to report on the firebombings at length as appropriate for such serious events.

"It goes under the radar in the papers and reports. They don't talk about it seriously. They are unequivocally abandoning Jerusalem residents," she emphasized.

"We lost sovereignty"

Antebi warned that by ignoring the incidents, the media was leading to a worsening of the attacks launched by the Arab assailants.

Describing how the silence and lack of response encourages ever more serious incidents, she noted a progression of provocation that went under the radar, moving from the burning of trash, to muezzin calls from the mosques at extremely high decibels and more than Islam's five prayer times a day, on to illegal construction and more.

"We lost our sovereignty in these territories," said Antebi.

When asked if her recent call to limit the muezzin call might be attacked as "racist," she responded that those who claim it is do so out of boorishness and a lack of familiarity with the law.

The Deputy Mayor explained that there is no need for a new law, because the existing law gives a response to the phenomenon.

"It is forbidden to make proclamations," she said, referring to the raucous Muslim prayer calls broadcast in the middle of the night, even as a number of Muslim countries forbid the practice and stipulate SMS messages instead.

"The problem is that they don't enforce the law in eastern Jerusalem as they do in western Jerusalem, both in terms of the noise pollution and environmental quality. They're testing the limits and they see that we aren't doing anything, and they go on from there."

50,000 Arabs occupy the capital

According to Antebi, the absence of enforcement has in recent years caused 50,000 new Arab residents to throng to Jerusalem, from Ramallah in Samaria and other locations.

"In this way (Prime Minister Binyamin) Netanyahu is bringing in more Arabs to Jerusalem," she said, accusing the Prime Minister and members of his coalition government for not giving backing to the enforcement efforts that the Jerusalem municipality is requesting.

As a result, she explains residents of Shuafat in northeast Jerusalem who have the financial means to do so are moving into western Jerusalem, while their homes in Shuafat are used to house Arabs who illegally enter sovereign Israeli territory from Shechem (Nablus) and other regions of Samaria.

"The passage between Ramallah and Shechem into the Shuafat neighborhood is a free passageway without any checkpoint, and the illegal entrants can easily move into Shuafat," explained Antebi.

"The more productive residents prefer to leave Shuafat, where there is crime and it isn't pleasant to live there because there is no education and no trash collection, so they move into Jerusalem," she added, outlining the Arab exodus deeper into the heart of the capital.

Hamas fills the vacuum, government shuts its eyes

The Deputy Mayor said that "apartments that go empty are immediately populated for a minuscule price by illegal entrants (to Israeli sovereign territory). We're causing it to be this way more and more."

"There is no vacuum. Hamas members are entering to provide services. You see Hamas flags flying there freely."

Antebi accused the government of ignoring the region, apparently out of a baseless hope that the phenomenon will stop on its own, although in practice the governmental silence is causing the opposite effect and encouraging the phenomenon to speed up.

Asked to give an example of the government's neglect of the region, she said, "around a year ago I saw with my own eyes the start of (illegal) construction. I contacted the Internal Security Minister and the Prime Minister. I told them there is the start of construction here, come put an end to it."

"I was answered with a cold shoulder. Some didn't answer at all, and some let their aides give answers disconnected to the reality. Last March I contacted the Prime Minister and told him that all my attempts to contact him were not answered and that he caused a serious increase in the Arab population in Jerusalem."

"They may be areas that are called Jerusalem, but in practice it is the division of Jerusalem," she warned.