A view of the Old City of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount from the Mount of Olives..
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
A vehicle carrying three Jewish passengers en route to Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives was attacked last week by over a dozen Arab youths who shattered its windows with rocks and cinder blocks, the driver said Thursday.
According to the car’s owner, Jeff Seidel, 57, of the Old City, the attack took place at 1:30 p.m. when the vehicle was forced to a standstill in the Arab neighborhood, which has become notorious for numerous unprovoked attacks against Jewish drivers attending funerals.
The majority of the attacks have taken place on the congested, narrow roads leading to the cemetery, and have been so pronounced over the years that many visitors have been forced to retain security escorts provided by the Construction Ministry.
Knowing the dangers of driving to the cemetery – where four prophets, former prime minister Menachem Begin, Hebrew revivalist Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, and leaders of revered rabbinical dynasties are buried – Jeff Daube, co-chairman of the Israel Steering Committee for the Mount of Olives preservation NGO, said he alerted police in advance of the funeral procession.
"I spent over two hours in a back and forth phone and SMS conversation with the police in order to get them to station someone there," said Daube.
Despite having notified police, however, who are stationed in a makeshift substation a few meters from the cemetery, Seidel said no officers were in sight when his car was besieged by the Arab mob.
“All of a sudden this kid between 12 and 13-yearsold kicked in the rear passenger door and we were right by Al-Makassed Hospital...
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I said we gotta get out of here, but there was nowhere to go because of the traffic.”
Within seconds, Seidel said, the car was surrounded by over a dozen boys who threw a barrage of rocks and cinder blocks, shattering the rear window and three other passenger windows, lightly wounding one of the passengers, whose eye was pierced by shattered glass.
“I called the cops in the car using my cell phone, but they didn’t show up, and the police station was right around the block,” Seidel continued. “So, when there was an opening in the other lane I tried to make a u-turn to get out of there but the kids were still throwing rocks.”
At this point Seidel said he beseeched an adult Arab passerby to tell the youths to stop and help him escape into the nearby hospital parking lot for safety, but no cars would make way.
“So I put my foot on the gas a little and drove ahead when the traffic cleared up a bit, but they continued to throw rocks,” he continued.
Seidel said he was eventually able to drive the car to the nearby police station, where officers took pictures of the damaged vehicle and escorted him to the Damascus Gate police station to file a criminal complaint.
A vehicle behind him carrying two IDF soldiers also pulled into the substation with a shattered rear windshield, he added.
“This really brought home how bad the situation is,” said Seidel. “It’s starting to wear on me. Why can’t a person go to the funeral of a friend? Arabs can go to the Old City to pray without any problems, but I’m not allowed to go to a funeral, or even a hospital, without being attacked?”
In June, Daube visited the cemetery with then deputy defense minister Danny Danon, to demand greater security for Jewish visitors.
The 3,000-year-old site is estimated to contain between 150,000 and 200,000 graves.
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