Ben Packer, a resident of the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem's Old City, found himself under attack by Molotov cocktails and explosives on Wednesday. Israel National News - Arutz Sheva spoke with him about the frightening experience and his intention to return to the spot where the attack took place.
"We were on our way to the Maaleh Hazeitim neighborhood (on the Mount of Olives) for [councilman] Arieh King's Sukkot (Festival of Tabernacles) party. I go there often. I was with a friend that came from the US," says Ben.
"I saw a bunch of people at the traffic circle. It was very suspicious but I thought that maybe the police will come or the Border Police were already there."
Ben and his friend already noticed that explosives were being fired, but they assumed that security personnel would deal with it or that they were already dealing with the rioters.
"We got close. They saw that we were Jews and came toward us with stones and Molotov cocktails," Ben recounts. "When the first one came close I pulled out my gun. He saw it and ran away. The next one threw a rock. With my left hand, I blocked the rock which was heading towards my face, as though I was trying to catch a baseball," says Ben, explaining that when he lived in the US he would play the sport often.
After the rocks came the explosives. "They know how to launch them directly towards me," he explains and says how he told his friend, who is new in the country, to run to a hiding place in the area which he is familiar with. Ben himself also ducked into the shelter. "They didn't chase us because they knew that I have a gun."
After a short amount of time, a bus pulled up to the scene. The Arab driver asked Ben where the Border Police are. Ben had no answer. He's convinced that if he, a civilian, saw the fireworks before he got there, the authorities should have been able to see them and move to the scene. Ben says that the incident reminded him of the 2021 Arab riots, during which the Jewish residents were held up in their homes while calling for the authorities - who never came.
Ben says a firework hit him under the eye, but other than a slight burning sensation, he feels fine. When asked if he was frightened, Ben answers, "The only thing that scared me was the thought that they may come with rocks. I was in the army so this isn't my first time. I was in Gaza, here they weren't shooting bullets. The rocks and Molotovs are dangerous and I needed to protect someone else."
How did the American friend react? "He filmed it. I didn't think to film it, he did. He's American, they film everything."
So what's next? Will the incident cause Ben to think twice about going to Ma'aleh Hazetim?
"I'm going there again tonight," he answers confidently.