The Knesset’s winter session opened with a rowdy meeting of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, which called an emergency meeting about the issue of Arab minors throwing rocks at cars in east Jerusalem. The meeting was organized after an incident on Friday in Silwan, when Elad head David Be’eri hit and lightly injured two Arab children who had thrown rocks at his car.
“We don’t want to see any children injured, period,” said Committee head Danny Danon (Likud). “But we also don’t want to see children involved in negative activities.”
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The meeting degenerated into a yelling match between MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List – Ta’al) and MK Michael Ben Ari (National Union). “Even a child, if he is endangering someone’s life, should be shot at,” said Ben Ari. “This meeting was organized because a kid was thrown into the air, and you guys are like a party of drunk people who have lost your heads!” said Tibi, calling the east Jerusalem residents a “company of fanatics.” Ben Ari repeatedly called Tibi a terrorist and told him to “go wear a dress with [Libyan leader Moammar] Kaddafi.”
In the past six months, the police have arrested 76 people for rock throwing incidents in Jerusalem. Thirty were youth, between the ages of 12-18, and 46 were adults. Of those arrested, 17 youth and 10 adults were served with indictments. Some of the youth are in detention, some are under house arrest. A representative of the Jerusalem police insisted that the police are doing everything possible to halt the rock throwing incidents, but the young age of the rock throwers makes stopping them difficult.
At the meeting, Jewish residents from east Jerusalem neighborhoods including Ma’aleh Zeitim and Beit Yonatan in Silwan shared stories and videos of frequent rock throwing episodes. The residents noted that every day past two weeks, groups of kids had been at the main intersection at Ras-al-Amud, near the Mount of Olives cemetery, and throwing rocks at passing cars for the entire day.
Rock throwing is nothing new in the area but it has picked up in intensity since a private security guard killed a Silwan resident on September 22 after he threw rocks at the security vehicle during an early morning patrol. Because of the high number of security cameras in the area, almost every rock throwing incident can be taped and made public almost immediately.
During the meeting, the police representative announced that they had arrested three suspects in connection with the episode on Friday afternoon with Be’eri. Be’eri was driving in the Silwan neighborhood on Friday afternoon with his son when he was confronted by four youths throwing rocks at his windshield. While trying to flee from the area, he accidentally hit two of the youth, the Elad spokesperson told the Post
. The incident was photographed by the international media, prompting outcry.
Meir Indor, the head of the Almagor Terror Victim’s Association, testified about his experience on September 29, when he said he was a victim of a lynch situation on the road between the Mount of Olives cemetery and Hebrew University, when he was stuck in a traffic jam with taxis on all sides and students from a nearby school pelted his car with rocks. “This is an area where Jews have been buried for 3,000 years, and now people are afraid to go to the cemetery.” He said he had been at two funerals of terror victims where people leaving the ceremony had been stoned at the same intersection. “Both times it’s happened when the funerals end at the same times as the school lets out,” he said. “It’s like [rock throwing] is part of their school program.”
“Every time a child throws a stone, they should arrest the father,” Indor told the Post
. “This worked in Yehuda and Shomron and it could work here.” Indor is starting a citizen’s forum to enforce security in the area near the Mount of Olives cemetery, following his attack.
Lack of police presence and action was a consistent complaint among the
Jewish residents of east Jerusalem. “I stand on my balcony with the
border patrol and I watch the kids throwing rocks, and the police leave
the scene even before they stop. They don't do anything to stop it… they
were even throwing rocks at 7:30 this morning!” said Beit Yonatan
resident Eldad Rabinovich. Danon showed a series of photographs
depicting a boy walking to school with his backpack, and picking up
large stones along the way and throwing them at cars.
“The police is trying to prevent reoccurrences of these serious events,
with a response to the events in the field or in discussions with
factions in the area,” said the police representative. He noted that
when the suspect is under 12, the age of criminal responsibility, the
police talk to the child’s parents.