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Nine arrested for snowball fight against haredim
By MELANIE LIDMAN
20/01/2013
Police arrest nine for assault in Jerusalem; Arabs pelted ultra-Orthodox victims with snowballs, shouted abuse.
 
Police arrested nine Arabs from east Jerusalem over the past week in connection with a snowball attack against two haredim during the snowstorm a week and a half ago.

Jerusalem was covered in over 20 centimeters of snow in the biggest storm since 1992.



A group of approximately 100 Arabs, mostly teenagers, spent much of the morning hanging out at Damascus Gate and pelting everyone who entered or exited the gate – Jews, Arabs and tourists alike – with dozens of snowballs, despite pleas to stop from various parties, including one woman with a baby carriage.

But the innocent snowball fight got out of hand when two haredim tried to leave Damascus Gate and were accosted by approximately 20 Arabs. The Arabs threw snowballs at them from less than a meter away and tried to steal one of their hats, while shouting obscenities.

A video taken of the incident went viral on Facebook with tens of thousands of people expressing disgust.

On Wednesday, police arrested three suspects and on Sunday night arrested six people from the Old City in connection with the attack. Both minors and adults were taken into custody.

Last week, the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court extended the remand of five of the recently arrested Arabs for three days and released one 13 year-old to house arrest.

They are to reappear before the court on Monday. On Sunday, the court extended the remand of six suspects.

Police also became aware of the incident due to the video.

The two haredim in the video initially did not file a complaint with police, according to Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby.

“They didn’t want to complain, but then when the police approached them they did file a complaint,” said Ben-Ruby.

Ruby denied that the police arrested the Arabs due to public outcry over the video.

“We didn’t arrest them because of public pressure; we wanted to know what happened,” he said. “It was going up on YouTube, it was going down on YouTube, we didn’t care, but we wanted to know what the haredim said.”

E., one of the haredim who appeared in the video, told Ma’ariv that he “wasn’t sure that he’d get out of there alive.”

He said that he told his friend not to run away because he was worried it would escalate into a lynching situation, or someone would pull a knife, but that he felt helpless since there were so many people throwing snowballs at the two of them.
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