Despite a ubiquitous state-of-the-art surveillance system manned by police, as well as private security contractors, nationalistically-motivated crimes against Israelis in the Old City has markedly increased over the past several months, a report, compiled by a private security firm stationed in the area, found.
The report revealed that 157 nationalistically-motivated assaults were reported in March, exceeding the preceding three months.
In February, 150 violent incidents were reported, 120 in January and 140 in December, the report said.
The Jewish neighborhoods in the Old City area are secured by civilian security companies contracted by the Construction and Housing Ministry, hundreds of Jerusalem police, who regularly patrol all four quarters, and aided by over 300 closed-circuit cameras.
On Wednesday, during Jerusalem Day’s annual Flag parade, dozens of Palestinians threw rocks at Israelis resulting in the injuries of two civilians and two officers.
Nine suspects were arrested by a subsequent police raid.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said on Thursday: “Police units in Jerusalem work 24/7 to make sure the Old City is safe, as well as the surrounding Arab villages.”
“Over the past few weeks there has been an increase [of attacks] on the Temple Mount, but Israeli police deal with that all the time. We are constantly around the area to ensure safety,” he said.
“I have lived here for the last 20 years, and instead of getting better, things have gotten worse,” said the middle-aged father of three, who requested anonymity out of fear for his and his family’s safety. “These young [Arabs] act as if they own the Old City and seem to relish terrorizing Jewish residents.”
“Look, this is not going to stop until the Palestinians get the message that attacking Jews will result in lengthy prison sentences and heavy fines that leave them bankrupt,” he said.
“How else will they stop?” Meretz councilman Meir Margalit, who holds the east Jerusalem portfolio in the municipality, said on Thursday that while he was dubious of a report compiled by a private security firm, he would not be surprised by heightened violence following the breakdown of peace talks.
Margalit said that many Palestinians have also reported heavy-handed tactics carried out by the Border Police, which, along with increased Arab home demolitions, has exacerbated the problem. “Parallel to this, has been a substantive increase of demolitions in east Jerusalem, so this wave of violence comes from both sides and feeds off each other.”
The councilman opined that the only way to stop the “vicious cycle” is to renew peace talks and reach an agreement. “Otherwise the city and region will be caught up in a wave of violence and bloodshed.”